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History Of New Zealand's Involvement In Malaya/Malaysia

During the hectic struggle against the Japanese in March 1942, the proposal to create a special Unit was mooted where SOA (Special Operations Australia) was born. In June 1942 the Unit became Z Special Unit named after the Z Experimental station near Cairns in Queensland. In 1945, this Unit with, British (51), Canadian (2), Netherlands (3), Australian (258), New Zealand (22), and civilian - Portuguese and Timorese (6) Personnel in the field were responsible for Intelligence operations, sabotage actions, coast watching, and observation of anchorage, strait or aerodrome on the Peninsula of Malaya, the Island of Singapore, Borneo, Brunei and Portuguese Timor. They operated a combination of 66ft Trawlers (Country Craft), one by the name Krait and small boats (canoe) and motor submersible canoes (MSC) in attacks on Japanese merchant shipping (38,000 Tones) in Singapore Harbour, and assisted by US Submarines, 2 man canoeists against targets of opportunity. They also parachuted into target zones with manpower, equipment and supplies. Operators were at times betrayed, captured, tortured and killed/executed. Z Special Unit Casualties KIA (Executed/missing) 112, POW (recovered) 8 Japanese Killed 1846, Japanese POW 249. This Unit was the forerunner to the establishment of the New Zealand Special Air Service. During 1941-42, the No 488 Squadron RAF and RNZAF's Aerodrome Construction Unit in Malaya and Singapore and later in Java represented the RNZAF. A state of Emergency was declared in Malaya on the 16th of June 1948 due to the murder of three British rubber planters and the infiltration of Communist insurgents led by Chin Peng of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), the aim was to make Malaya a Chinese Communist State. This twelve-year war was the only war the West won against Communism. New Zealand Armed Forces first served in Malaya, Post World War Two, in 1949, known as 'A Flight' 41 Squadron RNZAF, it consisted of three DC3s based at Changi Air Force Base, Singapore. This Unit was returned to NZ in 1951. With the advent of the issue of leased 'Venom' Bombers to 14 Squadron RNZAF this Squadron was posted from Cyprus to Tengah Air Force Base Singapore, in 1954. They shifted with the assistance of 40 Squadron with Mk3 Handley Page Hastings aircraft, to be part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. Flt Lt McIntyre launched the first 14 Sqn offensive leading a formation of Vampires to strike CT positions on the 1st of May 1955.This Squadron was to be replaced by 75 Sqn flying leased 'Canberra' Bombers in 1958 as part of 224 Group FEAF. In 1955, 41 Squadron RNZAF returned to Changi with 'Bristol Freighters'. Both these Squadrons continued at their bases respectfully up until 1972. Sqn Ldr Tie was to lose his life in a supply drop sortie on 10th of December 1956. All Squadrons took part in Operation 'Firedog' from 1946 to 1960, an air campaign against Communist terrorists in Malaya. From the start of the hostilities New Zealand was involved in, RNZAF units were commanded by the following:

A Flight No41 Squadron

Sept 1949Mar 1950Flt Lt R.A. Manners
Mar 1950Aug 1950 Flt Lt L.J. McLean 
Aug 1950Oct 1950 Flt Lt D.J. Phillips DFC 
Oct 1950 Dec 1951 Flt Lt S. Mills 
Dec 1954 Oct 1956 Sqn Ldr R.A. Manners MBE 
Nov 1956 Dec 1956 Sqn Ldr A.S. Tie 

14 Squadron

May 1954Sep 1956Sqn Ldr N.H. Bright 
Sep 1956Jan 1959 Sqn Ldr A.F. Tucker DFC 

New Zealand Army Staff served on secondment with the Fiji Battalion in 1951/56 Commanded by Lt Col Ron Tinker, where they served with distinction. The Special Air Service Squadron Commanded by Lt Col Frank Rennie was present during this time in Malaya for 17 months from 1955 until 1957 as part of 22 SAS Regiment, this Unit suffered One casualty - Killed In Action, Tpr A R Thomas on 2/5/56. When the 1st Battalion NZ Regiment was formed on the 1st of August 1957 it replaced these Units. This occurred through the reactivating of New Zealand Infantry Corps after it had been disbanded after British Commonwealth Occupational Service in Japan. From 1953 ships from the RNZ Navy were on duty throughout the waters of Malaya and were based at HMS Terror Naval Base at Sembawang in Singapore as part of the Far East Fleet. These ships being;
Black Prince05/05/55-20/07/55Commander Capt J F Whitefield DSC. RN.
Pukaki21/09/53-02/03/54Commander LtCdr A V Kempthorne.
28/0455-27/04/56Commander LtCdr E C Thorne.
1st deployment to Commonwealth Strategic Brigade
04/05/59-09/04/60Commander Cdr W R Williams.
06/06/61-10/06/62Commander Cdr P L Bardwell
Kaniere28/07/53-02/03/54Commander LtCdr L G Carr. DSC.
19/07/54-23/07/55Commander Cdr S F Mercer.
06/02/56-29/05/57Commander LtCdr V W Were.
Royalist20/05/57-04/07/58Commander Capt G D Pound. DSC.RN
07/02/59-26/06/59Commander Capt C C Stevens
23/01/61-22/08/61Commander Capt H D Stevenson RAN
25/02/63-09/07/63Commander Capt J O¹C Ross
15/03/65-17/10/65Commander Capt J P S Vallant -
Rotoiti08/04/58-03/08/59Commander LtCdr L E Hodge
11/04/60-09/03/61Commander Lt Cdr R L Harding
Otago10/02/62-10/10/62Commander Cdr J F McKenzie
01/04/64-13/12/64Commander Capt E C Thorne
13/12/64-26/05/65Commander Cdr R H L Humby
07/02/66-02/09/66Commander Cdr R H L Humby
Taranaki11/09/62-01/04/63Commander Cdr N D Anderson
11/09/63-07/09/64Commander Capt L G Carr DSC
13/08/65-05/05/66Commander Cdr K M Saull
Blackpool06/10/66-24/05/67Commander Cdr J I Quinn -
06/10 arrived from UK

and other ships supporting Garrison Troops from 1966, Canterbury, Wellington, Southland and the Waikato up until 1971.

On the 28th of November 1957 the New Zealand Regiment 1st Battalion, Commanded by Lt Col W R K (Kim) Morrison DSO paraded through Wellington, they embarked on the SS Captain Cook bound for Malaya where training commenced at Jungle Warfare School - Kota Tinggi until relieving the Royal Lincoln Regiment in the State of Perak. The Regiment was based as - Battalion Command Post at Ipoh. Battalion HQ, and HQ Company at Taiping. A and C Companies at Sungei Kuang. B Company at Tanjong Rambutan, and D Company at Tanah Hitam. In December 1957 the Battalion was engaged in a 17th Gurka Division operation (Ginger) to clear Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan of Communist Terrorists. According to Brig H J Mogg Commander 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, 1 NZ Regt had over double the number of captures and surrenders unexcelled by any other Unit in the Brigade. A total of 31 eliminations, with the loss of Two Killed In Action, Private B J Tuxworth, and L/Cpl P Brown. One Accidentally Killed, with no members wounded. Notable CTs killed or captured; Man Ko, Itan Bin Pandak, Bah Payani, Kwong Ming, Anjang Bin Pandak, Ah Yoong, who was the personal bodyguard of Chan Hong the senior State Committee member of the Communist Party of Perak. The political Commisar Yeung Cheong from the East Manong Armed Work Cell, Lo Pak Yuen, Li Hak Ming, and 13 CTs captured from the Command of District Committee Member Tsai KoYin. RNZAF presence was with 41 Squadron commanded by Sqn Ldr G H S Tosland. AFC Jan 1957 ­ Aug 1959 A special Sub Unit, The Tracker Team, was established commanded by Lt F H Woods (Ex NZSAS). 25 Kiwis, 23 Iban Trackers from the Sarawak Rangers and 3 surrendered Terrorists made up this Team who were very successful in all their operational activities. In February 1959 Private F E Burdett was dragged from his hammock by a tiger while sleeping, not only was there danger of enemy but danger by the natural wildlife as well. After sailing from New Zealand on the S.S.Captain Cook via Fremantle to Penang, the 2nd Battalion NZ Regiment Commanded by Lt Col D J (Jock) Aitken saw the relief of 1 NZ Regiment on the 28th of November 1959. 2 NZ Regiment was based as - Forward Command Post and Admin at Grik. Battalion HQ and HQ Company at Taiping. Alpha and Charlie Companies at Fort Chabai. Bravo Company at Ali¹s Landing and Delta at Fort Kemar. RNZAF 41 Squadron commanded by Sqn Ldr O D Staple. DFC from Sept 1959 was tasked with resupply and transport. The 'Emergency' officially ended on the 31st of July 1960 where a previously large terrorist army was defeated and reduced to a few hundred men near the Thai border. The Battalion reverted to exercises and short operational patrols along the Malaya/Thailand border at this time. This Battalion captured 4 Terrorists including the surrender of an infamous terrorist 'Kerinching' in November 1960 to Lt A R Fraser. The Sakai Aboriginal eluded all his pursuers for over two years and during Operation 'Bamboo' was regarded a priority target, he was always the ³one jump ahead jungle shadow. Upon his surrender he was given $M600.00 and established a Ladang, a cultivated jungle clearing, close to the Battalion operational Camp, Kampong Delta. On the 4th of March 1962 the 2nd Battalion New Zealand Regiment were presented 'Colours' the first time a Regular Unit in the New Zealand Army was to have that privilege. In November 1961 the 2nd Battalion was relieved by the airlifted 2nd/1st Battalion, NZ Regiment, commanded by Lt Col Les Pearce, which was moved from Ipoh and Taiping to be based at Terendak Cantonment (Camp) - Wellington Lines, near Malacca (Melaka). The Camp contained the entire 28th Commonwealth Brigade Group. The Battalion completed a series of exercises during their term namely 'Haere Mai' at Batu Arang and Kuala Kangsar, and 'Charity Angel' at Bahau, Gemas/Rompin areas. In April 1962 Bravo Company located a lost RNZAF Flg/Officer 77296 D L Finn who had crashed in the Rompin area, He was bought out and is buried in Kranji Cemetery. The Battalion also practiced de-planing and emplaning drills with Helicopters from HMS Bulwark. In May exercise Kiau Mau Li was in the Gemas area where water crossings were practiced in the Muar River, and in June Trumpeter had the whole Brigade exercising for Vietnam type operations, capturing fortified villages with approach marches and Helicopter transport, moving from Singapore to Triang in Pahang and then to the operational area. The 2/1 Battalion did operational patrols throughout the Malayan Peninsula and on the Malaya/Thailand border even though the 'Emergency' was long over, under the control of Brig Hamid of 2 Fed INF Bde the first time NZ Troops were under the command of a Malayan Commander. Further Exercises were 'Te Riri Watea' in Kongkoi Training area, and Dhanarajata in Thailand a SEATO Exercise accompanied by the Maori Concert party. In July to August the Battalion (2 Rifle Coys and a small HQ) was committed to Border Operations in Detong Salient in Kedah/Perak. This was to be the last operational act by this Battalion. During 1962, 41 Squadron RNZAF Commanded by Sqn Ldr B A Wood. AFC was deployed to Korat in Northern Thailand as part of Joint Task Force 116 (US), until December where it returned to Changi. Also the move for replacement aircraft saw a major shift from British to American Aircraft being more compatible with our Allies, Hercules and Orions along with Iroquois and Sioux Helicopters all arriving during 1965. The tour of this Battalion 2/1 was planned to end in November 1963 but with the decision to form a 'new' Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR) a reinforcement process was developed where the 2nd/2nd Battalion commanded by Lt Col R M (Bob) Gurr, relieved up until the 31st of December 1963 the date the New Zealand Regiment was formerly disbanded. Sqn Ldr I F Garrett commanded 41 Squadron from Oct 1963, this Squadron continued with resupply and transport of the Battalion. In 1964, under Sqn Ldr G Wallingford, 14 Squadron RNZAF based at Tengah in Singapore were issued with New Zealand owned Canberra Bombers replacing the Venoms and shifted between Tengah and Butterworth in the North of Malaya and as part of the Commonwealth build up of Forces to counter Indonesian insurgency into Borneo until the end of 1966. On the 1st of April 1964 the 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment came into being and was posted to the Malaya/Thailand border for a six-week period in the States of Kedah and Perlis. Battalion HQ was situated at Sik in central Kedah. Seven terrorist camps were discovered and destroyed, no contacts were made but several suspects detained. The Battalion returns to Terendak. President Soekarno objected to the formation of Malaysia where on the 17/18 August and 2nd of September 1964 Indonesian insurgents landed and parachuted into Labis and South Johore at Ayer Panas embarking on an undeclared war known as 'Confrontation'. The Battalion was moved to Majidi barracks in Johore under the command of the 4th Malaysian Brigade. In support of the 10th Gurka Rifles (Princess Mary¹s Own), the Battalion started operations against the paratroopers in the Labis and Ayer Panas areas. At this time RNZIR was responsible for the capture of 3 Paratroopers and driving others out into the Malaysian Army and Police Field Forces arms. At the end of the operation the entire 96 strong Indonesian group had either been killed or captured. Included in the capture was Lt Soetikno the leader of the Group. The Battalion was deployed then to Benut in Pontian to pursue 30 Indonesians, HQ was in the Police Station but moved to Rengam, during this operation 2 Indons were killed and 12 captured. They were led by an aggressive WO named Suparmin, the hard-core having to be trapped and Supamin killed before they gave up. Again employed as sweepers the Battalion operated at driving the enemy out of their refuge while the Malaysian Army and Police easily captured the exhausted insurgents at the end of the net. At the conclusion of this operation the Battalion returned to Terendak with B Company to be called out 24 hrs later to operate in Kesang an area north of Muar under operational control of 3 RAR, the rest of the Battalion with 28th Commonwealth Brigade - 3 RAR, 1/10th Gurka Rifles worked for two days to drive the enemy along the coast with the Battalion killing 6 and capturing 3, ending hostilities. A return to Terendak to coast watching and patrolling until May of 1965 when the Battalion was deployed to Sarawak 2nd Division in Borneo as part of the 19th UK Infantry Brigade known as Mid West Brigade. The Battalion was transported to Borneo by RAF Aircraft, MV Auby and a RCOT LST, the Maxwell Banner relieving an old friend, the 1/10th Gurkha Rifles. Headquarters and HQ Company based at Simanggang, Alpha Company at Lubok Antu serviced by boat from Engkilili, Bravo Company at Jambu, serviced by Helicopter only, Charlie Company at Batu Lintang (Pork Chop Hill) by internal road, Delta Company on the road to Kuching at Sungei Tenggan, and a small Platoon Base (Anti Tank) at Nanga Mepi. These bases were jungle forts and all within 3 to 4 thousand yards of the Sarawak- Kalimantan Border. The Battalion was supported by 'B' Battery Malaysian Artillery, ŒA¹ Squadron Queens Dragoon Guards with Armoured Cars and an Auster Aircraft, 3 whirlwind Helicopters of RAF, sub Units of the Sarawak Police Field Force, and later, 2 Sioux Helicopters of 40 Commando RM Air Troop were assigned to support. The Battalion had a troop of Armoured Cars (The Flying 9) that serviced the 'black' roads in the area escorting vehicles and urgent non-transmittable dispatch duties. NZSAS were present from February 1965 to November 1966 being involved with in-depth reconnaissance and intelligence work throughout the 2nd Division Sarawak and Kalimantan which proved to be of high class, and very helpful to the Battalion based in Borneo. During the six months tour of duty the Battalion inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy without loss of life by any Member of the Battalion. Numerous clashes occurred sometimes with groups of up to 100 or more, all Companies were engaged and enjoyed success in ambushes and other clashes. In October 1965 1RNZIR was relieved by the 1st Battalion The Malaysian Rangers and returned to Terendak.

The RNZ Navy had two minesweepers that had been mothballed in Singapore, which deployed to Malayan/Borneo waters, as part of the 11th Minesweeping Squadron, Far East Fleet. They were used for patrolling Malacca Straits, between Singapore and Rioiow Archipelago, the South China Sea between Malaya and Borneo and the coastal waters/rivers of Sarawak and Sabah. The,
Hickelton10/04/65-03/01/66Commander LtCdr M N Weymouth
03/01/66-29/08/66Commander LtCdr P N Wright DSC
29/08/66-29/12/66Commander LtCdr D G Bamfield
Santon10/04/65-13/08/66Commander LtCdr L J Tempero
13/08/66-04/12/66Commander LtCdr G W Glyde

Hickelton was to intercept a sampan when she was fired upon by its crew, Hickelton replied killing two, the other two surrendered and were taken for questioning. This action was to be the last New Zealand ship to fire a shot as the 'Confrontation' was to end in October 1966. Both these minesweepers served with credit that contributed to support of the Commonwealth Brigade Group admirably. In 1965 Hercules of 40 Squadron RNZAF, were airlifting NZ troops into Vietnam and 41 Squadron commanded from Sept 1965 by Sqn Ldr I A Hutchins. AFC, began regular resupply missions from Singapore. In 1967 the first NZ helicopter pilots commenced duties attached to No 9 RAAF Squadron in Vietnam. In all there were a total of thirty NZ Pilots who served in Vietnam between 1967 and 1971. Changeover of personal continued by reinforcement process and in November 1965 the Battalion was under the command of Lt Col Brian Ponanga. During the lead up to being deployed to Borneo the Battalion trained and participated in exercise 'Lion's Roar' involving the entire Commonwealth Brigade under the control of HQ 17th Malaysian Infantry Division. In May 1966 the Battalion was deployed back to Borneo by air and sea including old faithful, MV Auby into the 1st Division at Balai Ringin as part of the 99th Gurka Infantry Brigade relieving the Durham Light Infantry Regiment. Battalion HQ, HQ Company and Charlie Company at Balai Ringin. Alpha and Bravo Companies at Gunan Gajack, with Delta Company at Planan Mapu and Ad Hoc Platoon at Pang Sept 1965 by Sqn Ldr I A Hutchins. AFC Amo. The area of responsibility included approximately 30 miles of Border, the right flank being the Balai Ringin -Tedebu Road, with other roads being Kuching-Simanggang Road and Tedebu-Muara Monkos Bazaar Road. It was very disappointing that as soon as the Battalion became settled, the 'Confrontation' negotiations to end it began, where the Battalion engaged in mainly patrolling without contact with the enemy. There were a few short operations directed at elements of the clandestine Communist Organisation also without success and with the withdrawal on the 1st of October 1966 the last Commonwealth Unit to leave the West Brigade Group and Borneo, returned to Terendak Camp for strategic reserve training for the 28th Commonwealth Brigade in support of SEATO operations over aggression in Thailand. The deteriorating situation in Thailand and Indo China saw commitment by New Zealand troops to South Vietnam where in March 1967 in addition to 161 Battery RNZ Artillery a rifle company was sent, Charlie Company (Victor) based at Nui Dat under control of the 1st Australian Task Force. December 1967 saw the posting of Delta Company (Whiskey) to Vietnam formalising the term 'ANZAC Battalions'. These deployments of Infantry Companies were to continue with the highest possible degree of operational preparedness maintained with the remaining Troops in Terendak and Dieppe until December 1972 where upon Victor and Whiskey Companies returned to the Battalion they reverted to their original designation of Charlie and Delta Companies respectfully. In December 1969, 1 RNZIR moved south to Singapore occupying the Punjab Lines in Nee Soon Garrison and then in 1971 to shift to Dieppe Barracks, HMS Simbang, Semawang. Training and exercises continued in the Kota Tinggi dry training area. It was in 1970 the RNZAF presence with 41 Squadron changed from Changi Air Base to Tengah where it was to become the support Unit for the Battalion using Strikemaster Jet Trainers and Iroquois Helicopters replacing the ageing Vampires. With the disbandment of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade on the 8th of October 1978 New Zealand was left alone in this area, which increased the co-operation with Singaporean and Malaysian Armed Forces. Reinforcement continued on an annual basis with the troops exercising and training within the Malaysian and Singaporean arenas, there were also some significant Parades marking milestones in the activities of the Battalion one being the 25th Anniversary on the 3rd of December 1982. A record of continuous overseas service, which is thought to be unequalled within the British Commonwealth of Nations in recent times, drew to a close with the final sad farewell parade of 1RNZIR at Dieppe Barracks in 1989. This parade closed a Military era for New Zealand and prompted the formal disbandment of the MCP and it¹s Armed Forces based in South Thailand. In December 1989. Chin Peng finally surrendered.

New Zealand Casualties
from 1949 to 1989 12 Killed in Action, Operation or Exercise, 55 Died, Drowned, or Killed in Accidents

This was the end of a very important era in military history for New Zealand unfortunately forgotten by politicians and the public of the Country where the three Services served with pride and determination. Remember this was a war that was won, not like Korea, a stalemate or Vietnam a loss. It must be pointed out that approximately 38,000 upwards, New Zealand Service personal served in Malaya and Borneo voluntarily, for which there has finally been New Zealand Government recognition for that service. This Association affiliated to RNZRSA has constantly reminded the politicians of the day of this since the Organisations original existence. This perseverance has paid off finally, we the Service Personnel of the three Armed Services have now been presented by way of medalic recognition the New Zealand Operational Service Medal as deserved accolades for protection of freedom and democracy of our Country and a thank you for an excellent job well done.