Malaya & Borneo Veterans’ Day
Friday 9 August, 2019
Each year on August 31 we commemorate Malaya & Borneo Veterans’ Day, honouring two historical campaigns involving Australian Defence personnel – The Malayan Emergency and the Indonesian Confrontation (Konfrontasi).
The Malayan Emergency
Bombs drop from Lincolns of No1 Squadron on terrorist camp in Johore. Twelve seconds later 14 terrorists met their deaths in the strike – the first official kills since squadron arrived in Malaya, 1950-07-16
The Malayan Emergency was declared after the murder of three estate managers in Perak, northern Malaya on 18 June, 1948. Guerillas from the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerilla movement, were responsible for the murders. The MCP were distraught that British promises of an easier path to full Malayan citizenship had not been fulfilled.
Australia’s involvement commenced in 1950 with the arrival of RAAF aircraft and infantry forces in Singapore. Australia also provided artillery and engineering support and over the course of the Emergency, nine Royal Australian Navy ships were deployed to Malayan waters.
Lasting 13 years, the Malayan Emergency was the longest continuous military commitment in Australia’s history.
39 Australian servicemen were killed in Malaya, although only 15 of these deaths occurred as a result of operations. A further 27 were wounded, most of whom were in the Army.
The Indonesian Confrontation (1962 – 1966)
Indonesia and Malaysia fought an undeclared war between 1962 and 1966, known as the Confrontation. The conflict was a result of the Indonesian President’s (President Sukarno) belief that the creation of the Federation of Malaysia was a British attempt to maintain covert colonial rule. The war began in early 1963 when Indonesia launched a series of cross-border raids into Malaysian territory.
Australian units which fought during Confrontation did so as part of a larger British and Commonwealth force under overall British command. Australia’s commitment to operations against Indonesia in Borneo and West Malaysia fell within the context of its membership in the Far East Strategic Reserve.
Continuing negotiations between Indonesia and Malaysia ended the conflict, and the two sides signed a peace treaty in Bangkok in August 1966.
23 Australians were killed during Confrontation. A further 8 were wounded.
In the half light of dawn, with their 105mm L5 Pack Howitzer at full recoil, an Australian artillery crew of the 102nd Field Battery, Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), let fly at a target from their forward company base in North Borneo, close to the Sarawak-Kalimantan border
The peace treaty was ratified by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, and the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Adam Malik.