M.C. London Gazette 1.1.1941 'In recognition of distinguished services in the Middle East during the period August 1939 to November 1940'.
Major Edward Henry Muldoon, M.C., was serving in the Gold Coast Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force, at the time of receiving the above award, in itself an early and interesting scenario worthy of further research. It was, however, for his exploits in the Sea Reconnaissance Unit that he is best remembered.
Joining this new hazardous service unit in the Summer of 1943, Muldoon was appointed Executive Officer by its founder and organiser Lieutenant-Commander Bruce Wright, R.C.N.V.R., a swimmer of Olympic standard who first developed 'his idea of assault swimmers after recalling an article on the Californian divers who went down, without breathing equipment, for the edible abalone'. In September 1943, with the full backing of Mountbatten, Muldoon took the 40 members of S.R.U. to the United States for training at a U.S.M.C. base at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Southern California. Despite every man having been hand picked by "Blondie" Hasler of the Cockleshell Heroes fame, and as such representing the best material of those volunteering for 'hazardous service' from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and R.A.F., Wright was dismayed by their poor physique when compared with American Marines.
Having been instructed in the use of the unit's main means of projected water-borne travel - the 14 foot paddle board - as well as explosives, camouflage, unarmed combat, and, among a myriad of other skills, how to fend off the attentions of sharks, barracudas, killer whales and estuarine crocodiles, the unit completed its training at Salt Cay, Nassau, with a top secret and impressive demonstration of their capabilities before a suitably impressed H.R.H. the Duke of Windsor. Despatched to the U.K., the unit, now unofficially known as the 'Surf Board Commandos', qualified as parachutists at Ringway, and in October 1944 proceeded to the Far East. By January 1945 Muldoon, in command of No. 1 Section, S.R.U., had made his first reconnaissance across the Irrawaddy for 19 Division. Then transferred to 20 Division further south and attached to 100 Indian Infantry Brigade, his Section was employed on their paddle boards reconnoitring the long stretches of river prior to the intended crossing, 'mapping sandbanks, examining landing beaches, and charting currents, all matters of vital importance since the crossing was to be made at night'. On the afternoon of D-Day the river rose unexpectedly, and new embarkation points and landing places had to be selected and surveyed at the last minute. When it came to the night of 100 Brigade's cross river assault, on 13 February, Muldoon and his men guided the first wave over at 0400 hours, using buoys and shaded torches. Some grounded on sandbanks, but the majority landed directly though under fire. And by 0800 hours the whole Brigade was safely over.
Muldoon's Section duly rejoined 19 Division, where Wright found them in poor shape: 'They had been in the field continuously for ten weeks, and the nature of their living conditions had brought about physical deterioration. Both Muldoon and Elder had become medically unfit to enter the water. As Wright pointed out to the fiery Major-General Pete Rees, the Division Commander, when asking for the Section to be withdrawn to refit, they had had to march with the soldiers during the day and work under arduous conditions in the river throughout the night during the advance'. Following the fall of Rangoon, when Wright turned over the command of the S.R.U. to the rehabilitated Muldoon, it was his proud boast that 'Forty men went into Burma and forty men came out'.