Some reflections of the Emergency

The Emergency

No 1 Squadron returned from Malaya

On this day, five Lincoln bombers of No 1 Squadron arrived at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, under command of Wing Commander K.V. Robertson, after an absence from Australia of eight years spent bombing the jungle hideouts of Communist Terrorists in Malaya. The return flight home entailed a tour of Australian cities, beginning at Darwin and taking in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, before finally reaching the unit’s home base. On hand to greet the Lincoln crews when they arrived at RAAF Base Laverton, outside Melbourne, on 13 July was Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, first Commanding Officer of 1 Squadron in 1916. During nearly 4000 sorties flown in Malaya, the unit delivered 14 385 tonnes of bombs which was 85 per cent of the total tonnage dropped during the campaign. At Amberley, 1 Squadron began retiring its Lincoln Mk 30s and replacing them with Canberra jet bombers.



The memorial stone at Sungei Suput, the area where the first planter was murdered by Communist Terrorists on 16JUN 1948

Malayan Timeline

19 Jun


RAAF Dakotas joined Malayan Emergency

On this day, the first C-47 Dakotas belonging to No 38 Transport Squadron arrived at Changi airfield, on SingaporeIsland, to fulfill an Australian Government commitment to assist Britain during the ‘Emergency’ declared across Malaya. Commanded by Wing Commander J.F. (‘Ginty’) Lush, the unit’s eight aircraft were used to move cargo, troops and VIPs, sometimes as far as Ceylon, Hong Kong or Japan, carry out supply and paratroop drops and casualty evacuations, and participate in psychological operations involving leaflet drops. Australia’s commencement of a concurrent commitment in Korea, within a week of the Dakotas’ arrival, led to the transfer of half the squadron’s aircraft to that theatre of operations in November 1950. Two years later, with the RAAF’s commitments having continued to escalate beyond the capacity of its transport fleet, 38 Squadron was withdrawn to rejoin No 86 Transport Wing at Richmond, New South Wales.

The Malayan Emergency.  MALAYA: Circa 1948 - 1960:

The 12 years jungle war was fought by the Malayan Security Forces, British, Australian, New Zealand army, British Commonwealth Forces against the communists (CT) who were led by Chin Peng.     


BANGKOK (AFP) - Malaysia’s renowned former communist fighter Chin Peng, who led a guerrilla campaign against British colonial rule, died in exile in Thailand on Monday 16SEP13, according to his military liaison.

The 89-year-old, who left Malaysia around five decades ago, had been hospitalised in Bangkok for several years.

“He died this morning of cancer,” said General Pisarn Wattanawongkiri, a former Thai military commander and point of contact between Chin Peng and the authorities.

Chin Peng was actually awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service to Malaya during WW2.... then he changed sides.

The Terrorist Soldier

The CT (Communist Terrorist) soldier was well used to living in the jungle. ... Food and other supplies came from the jungle gardens of the fringe squatters and surrounding kampongs (villages).
He had jungle workshops to repair his weapons and equipment, jungle hospitals for first aid treatment, a network of agents and sympathisers in village, town and city, and a cowed rural population to coerce for food, money, information and sanctuary.
His discipline, fieldcraft, navigation and minor tactics were good and his weapon handling skills were reasonably adequate.
He relied on surprise in ‘hit and run’ tactics such as the ambush and, (initially) could be ruthlessly cruel in murdering, mutilating or kidnapping people of influence and their families, including village headmen, teachers, local government officials etc.
Most guerrillas were Chinese, though there were some Malays, Indonesians and Indians. (Chin Peng, now 80 plus, his Malay wife, his comrades-in-arms Abdullah CD, Rashid Maidin are today living in Southern Thailand).

Australian Involvement

The Malayan Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948, after three estate managers, Allison, Christian & Walker, were murdered in Perak, northern Malaya. The men were murdered by guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which had emerged during the Second World War. Despite never having had more than a few thousand members, the MCP was able to draw on the support of many disaffected Malayan Chinese, who were upset that British promises of an easier path to full Malayan citizenship had not been fulfilled. The harsh post-war economic and social conditions also contributed to the rise of anti-government activity.

The Malayan government was slow to react to the MCP at first and did not appoint a director of operations to counter the insurgency until March 1950. The new director planned to address the underlying economic, social, and political problems facing the Chinese community while, at the same time, bringing government control to the fringe areas where the MCP received much of its support. Before this plan was fully implemented, however, the situation deteriorated further with the assassination of the British High Commissioner in October 1951. The attack galvanised British resolve to meet the threat posed by the MCP; the Malayan government, in turn, stepped up counter-insurgency measures. Prolonged operations were undertaken against the communists in an effort to destroy their base of support in local communities and to drive them into the jungle, where it would be difficult for them to receive supplies from supporters.

Australia 's involvement in the Emergency began in 1950 with the arrival of RAAF aircraft and personnel in Singapore. Dakotas from 38 Squadron were deployed on cargo runs, troop movements, and paratroop and leaflet drops in Malaya, while six Lincoln bombers of
No 1 Squadron provided the backbone of airlift operations. As the capacity of army and police units operating against the communists improved however, the need for air power decreased, and by 1952, RAAF &RAF Lincolns were increasingly used as part of combined air-ground assaults against the communists. One of the major military successes of the conflict was one such coordinated operation in July 1954, east of Ipoh, in Perak state. In Operation Termite, as the exercise was known, five RAAF Lincolns and six from a RAF squadron made simultaneous attacks on two communist camps, followed by paratroop drops, a ground attack, and further bombing runs ten days later. The operation destroyed 181 camps and killed 13 communists; one communist surrendered.

By October 1955, when the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), arrived in Penang, the outcome of the Emergency was no longer in doubt, although a lengthy "mopping up" stage followed, largely undertaken by Australian troops. After several false starts 2RAR crossed to the mainland in January 1956 to begin anti-communist operations. Over the next 20 months, as part of 28 Commonwealth Brigade, 2RAR participated in a variety of operations, mainly in Perak, one of the main areas of communist activity. Their work consisted of extensive patrolling, watching for contacts in the rubber plantations, and mounting a perimeter guard on the New Villages, settlements which the government had established to provide infrastructure and services in outlying areas in the hope of denying the guerrillas access to their support base. Contacts were rare, however, and the battalion had a mixed record, killing two communists in an ambush on 25 June 1956 but losing three of its own troops.

2RAR left Malaya in October 1957 and was replaced by 3RAR in the same month. After six weeks of training in jungle warfare 3RAR began driving the insurgents into the jungle in Perak and Kedah, separating them from food and other supplies. Early successes for the battalion confirmed the growing ascendancy of the security forces over the communists and by April 1959 one of the main communist centres, Perak, was declared secure. By late 1959 operations against the communists were in their final phase and many communists had crossed Malaya's northern border into Thailand. 3RAR left Malaya in October 1959 to be replaced by 1RAR. Although operating in the border region 1RAR made no contact with the enemy and was forbidden to move into Thailand, even when the presence and location of communists was known.

As the threat continued to dissipate, the Malayan government officially declared the Emergency over on 31 July 1960, though 1RAR remained in Malaya until October the following year, when 2RAR returned for a second tour. In August 1962 the battalion was committed to anti-communist operations in Perlis and Kedah, completing its tour in August 1963.

In addition to air and infantry forces, Australia also provided artillery and engineering support, and an Airfield Construction Squadron built the main runway for the air force base at Butterworth. RAN ships also served in Malayan waters had occasion to fire on suspected communist positions in 1956 and 1957. Australian ground forces in Malaya formed part of Australia's contribution to the Far East Strategic Reserve, which was set up in April 1955 primarily to deter external communist aggression against countries in south-east Asia, especially Malaya and Singapore.

Lasting 13 years, the Malayan Emergency was one of the longest continuous military commitments in Australia's history. Thirty-nine Australian servicemen were killed in Malaya, although only 15 of these deaths occurred as a result of operations, and 27 were wounded, most of whom were in the army.


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RUSTY FRASER | Reply 21.09.2016 13.43

I was HQ 28 Comwel Bde, D&E Platoon from Sept 59 to May 62. I have some photos that I would not mind sharing with old mates.
Would like photos.

Ken McNeill 21.09.2016 14.04

Can you send them electronicaly ? If not, please send them to:-
u2/21 Scott St
Beauty Point
TAS 7270
Alternatively, phone me on (03) 6383 4677

Fred Lynch | Reply 03.11.2015 15.54

Excellent site - Information on the site stirred the memory bank, which as I have aged has tended to fade somewhat.
Congratulations on the site - well done.

Trevor Young | Reply 30.10.2015 20.10

Well done-thanks for the written history. I served with 2RAR during their second term. We had confirmed contact during operations near Thai border!!

Ken McNeill 31.10.2015 13.03

Please email me any photos you would like to share.

bob(whiskey)walker | Reply 17.07.2014 22.08

I served in 2 tp rae at same time as 3 rar 57 to 59 info here very good

Graham Henry | Reply 12.08.2013 22.58

nteresting read this history of the Malaya CT campaign and to get information that was lost to me over the years since I served with No 2 SQN at Butterworth.

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Latest comments

21.09 | 16:16

Our Association accepts all members who served in and around Malaya/Malaysia. Please send me unit histories so they may be put onto this website.

21.09 | 14:04

Can you send them electronicaly ? If not, please send them to:-
u2/21 Scott St
Beauty Point
TAS 7270
Alternatively, phone me on (03) 6383 4677

21.09 | 13:43

I was HQ 28 Comwel Bde, D&E Platoon from Sept 59 to May 62. I have some photos that I would not mind sharing with old mates.
Would like photos.

21.09 | 09:37

Don't forget that 1 RAR served at Terendak Garrision Malaysia and Selerang Garrision.Singapore for a period of 2 1/2 Years Approx 1969/71.Cheers L/Cpl 2412472

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