The Royal Australian Regiment’s role in Korea ended in March 1956 when 1 RAR was brought home. The battalion was based at Enoggera and was presented with new Colours by the Governor General Sir William Slim, GBC, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ on 30th March 1957. After an extensive training period the battalion prepared to move to Malaya. The C O, Lt Col Bill Morrow and the RSM, W O 1 F G Buchanan were WW2 veterans who had experienced jungle fighting against the Japanese in New Guinea and the pacific islands.
1 RAR arrived in Singapore on 2nd October 1959 and after 10 days of acclimatization and issuing of equipment underwent jungle training at Kota Tinggi. The battalion was dispersed with A Coy going to Lasah, B Coy going to Sungei Siput, C Coy going to Lintang and HQ and Spt Coy going to Kuala Kangsar.
The first of many operations was conducted in the Betong Salient with the battalion HQ setting up at Grik. A large number of the enemy had been reported in this area and camps had been found close to the Thai border.
During the next two years the battalion was on patrol on the Malaya / Thai border spending weeks at a time searching and laying ambushes. The area was rain forest covered high mountainous country where the rivers could be raging torrents in the wet and dry beds in the dry season. Re-supply was often done by helicopters as platoon size patrols could be out for six weeks. The local people were scattered through out the area in small villages and often supplied the communists terrorists with food and shelter.
Patrolling on a regular basis and the use of tracker teams contained the enemy north of the Thai border. The Australian patrols were not permitted to cross over the border and this became frustrating when the patrols knew the enemy was a few hundred yards away and could not do anything about it. Many of the battalion had served in Korea but the training and the experience gained in Malaya was to serve the battalion well in the coming years.
The Emergency was declared ended on the 31st July 1960. 1 RAR continued patrolling to the Thai border and in October 1961 the battalion returned to Australia and was based in Gallipoli Barracks Holsworthy, Sydney. The battalion was placed on the new pentropic establishment, which increased the strength to around 1300 men and within months was commanded by Colonel K R G Coleman MC. The RSM was WO 1 W H Jones.
Source: Duty First edited by D Horner
Sgt Bill O’Shea (photos)
Dickie Johns (photos)
Steve Jenkins (photos)
The Battalion was involved in United Nations War Games / Exercises in the South East Asian region during 1959/60. This involved landings in Borneo by combined infantry forces.
The photos above were taken by Bill “Shadey” O’Shea and show the B Coy lines at Sungei Sukit. Note the thatched roofs and the open style living plan. More to follow.