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Watch In Their Footsteps online: Episode 5 Sergeant Bill Brandis

Today, some Australians take Special Forces (SAS) for granted, an indispensable arm of our Defence Forces. But it wasnt always so. With the outbreak of World War II, as Australia confronted an expansionist Japan, there were no commandos, no SAS. So, when Billy Brandis enlisted in 1941, he had no idea, after serving with distinction as a signaller, he would be handpicked to join a covert new unit. It would be commonly known as Z Special Unit. In January 1944 Sergeant Brandis is deployed to British North Borneo as a member of Operation Python II. Poorly trained or prepared for the operation, Billy was separated from his unit and was lost in the dense and unforgiving jungle. What followed is an extraordinary story of endurance and courage and now, nearly seven decades later, Billys niece is following in his footsteps through the jungle, humidity and mud. For Tracy Brandis-Gray, from Beaconsfield, Tasmania, her Uncle Billys fate has remained a secret history much like the covert operation that took him to Borneo. She wants to discover the truth and pay tribute to the uncle she never knew.

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