Engaging Southeast Asia? Labor’s Regional Mythology and Australia’s Military Withdrawal from Singapore and Malaysia, 1972–1973

The decision in 1973 to withdraw Australian forces from Malaysia and Singapore constitutes a neglected but defining episode in the evolution of Australian postwar diplomacy against the backdrop of the Cold War.

A detailed examination of this episode sheds interesting light on Australian foreign policy from 1972 to 1975, the years when Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) served as prime minister. The Whitlam government’s policy in Southeast Asia was not as much of a watershed as the secondary literature suggests.


This is an important article that reinforces the reasons for the strategic deployment of the Rifle Company Butterworth

A first-hand view of fighting the communist terrorists — Hussaini Abdul Karim August 30, 2011 AUG 30

  1. A first-hand view of fighting the communist terrorists — Hussaini Abdul Karim, August 30, 2011
  2. AUG 30 — A week before we received our Agong‟s commission, which was to be held on April 14, 1972, all Royal Military College (RMC), Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur graduating officer cadets of Short Service Commission Intake 20 and Regular Commission Intake 14 were required to make our choices on which corps in the army we wished to serve.Tensions were very high among us even though we were all fully trained and equipped and were fully fit and ready to fight the communist terrorists (CTs) face-to-face in both West and East Malaysia. The training we went through was very tough. We were all very anxious to know where each of us was to be posted to, especially those of us who had made our choices to join the Infantry, Artillery or the Reconnaissance Corps in the army, all commonly known as the “Fighting Units” of the army. We were repeatedly briefed and reminded about the communist atrocities and how ruthless they were and part of our training was to get us all psyched up to defeat them, our national enemy and a threat to our developing nation. We had to stop them from destroying our country and our people to ensure a prosperous and peaceful future for all Malaysians.

Hussaini Abdul Karim

The writer receiving his Agong’s commission as Lt Muda (2nd Lieutenant, Malaysian Artillery Corps) from Sultan Abdul Halim at the RMC Sungei Besi on April 14, 1972.

I still remember very well the nervous smile of Officer Cadet Elias Ramli, a vertically challenged but stout fellow from Kangar, who was to be posted to 1 Ranger Regiment in Sarawak, the hotbed of the CTs at that time, as well as the sour face of Officer Cadet A. Rahman Koya, a tall and dapper fellow from Rantau Panjang, who was joining another Ranger battalion, also based in Sarawak. Officer Cadet Sallehuddin from Penggerang, Johor, who joined the Royal Malay Regiment, was another graduating cadet who I noticed was feeling very nervous. About an equal number of officers from our graduating class were sent to units operating near the borders of Malaysia/Thailand and Malaysia/Kalimantan to join the respective fighting units we were posted to. Two hundred graduating cadets were posted to the fighting units and the remaining number of newly-commissioned officers was posted to the services and administrative units. I was posted to the 3rd Artillery Regiment in Kuching, which was our temporary base and I was there for just over one year. My parents were less than happy when I told them about it. My second stint there, for about 11⁄2 years, was between early 1974 and mid-1975. Our permanent base was in Kamunting, Taiping.

Lt Muda Elias Ramli, Lt Muda A. Rahman Koya and Lt Muda Sallehuddin as well as a few others did not enjoy the privilege of the four-day break we were given between the time after accepting our commission as 2nd lieutenants and joining our respective units. They had to pack up immediately and were flown or sent by train or Land Rover trucks to Kuching and to other destinations like Ipoh, Sungei Petani, and Bentong that afternoon itself upon completing the passing-out parade. They were to join their colleagues to fight in the country‟s jungles due to a shortage of officers, especially in the infantry units, at the front lines in both theatres.

On April 15, the very first day of active service, we received the very sad news of the first casualty, Lt Muda Sallehuddin, then only 18 years old; the youngest to be commissioned, died after drowning in the Rejang River in Sibu during one of the pursuits of terrorists in his unit‟s area of operations. Over the years there were many more casualties, all young men, who were killed, injured, paralysed, maimed or crippled fighting the communist CTs. Some died or were injured from gunshot wounds or

accidents and some from air crashes after the Nuri helicopters they were in were shot at, all fighting for the country to wipe out the communists. A classmate at RMC Cadet Wing, Lt Fuad Chong from the Engineers Corps, had to have one of his legs amputated after badly injuring it upon stepping on a booby trap in an operation to clear booby traps set up by the CTs in the Perak jungle. My very good friends, Trooper Suandy, a soldier from the elite Commando Unit (MSSU) and Lt Muda (U) Wee Kong Beng, a co-pilot of a Nuri helicopter, died in one of the crashes with seven others including the aircraft‟s captain. In one of the major operations which I was involved in, the Bentong airstrip was even busier than Subang Airport with various types of aircraft such as the Caribou, Cessna, Nuri and Alouette regularly landing and taking off every day.

One officer from our batch, Lt Muda Basri, an infantry officer from 4 Ranger Regiment, was awarded the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) for bravery after successfully leading his platoon to defeat a group of CTs in 1973. This guy had burning red eyes and he always was full of spirit; though he was among the quieter ones at RMC, from his determination and passion shown when competing in team contests and games during our training sessions, I knew that one day he would be a hero. Another officer who was also a classmate by the name of Basri, also from the Royal Engineers Corps, a very affable fellow, was also awarded the PGB and he has since retired with the rank of Lt-Colonel.

Life in the army then was very tough and in my case, I spent most of my active military service in the country‟s jungles in Sarawak, Sabah, Perak, Kedah and Pahang, sometimes at a stretch for as long as six months. Of course, there were many like me. We young officers were still bachelors and were considered by our superiors that leaving us in the jungle for a long stretch of time didn‟t really matter. The married officers who had families had shorter stints. Sometimes, I did feel angry with myself, with a tinge of regret for joining the army instead of one of the universities like many of my classmates who completed pre-university did, and be able to sleep on very comfortable Dunlopillo latex foam mattresses, enjoy good food, had girlfriends and enjoyed the bright city lights.

We slept on makeshift tents created using our rubber “poncos” from branches of small trees and depending on the duty roster, we either slept during the day or at night. Sometimes, when there was not enough time, we just slept on the ground with the ponco used as a ground sheet. As we were always on the move, the tents had to be dismantled and the area cleared after every short stay of between two and three days. Our food was the dry rations supplied to us and sometimes, when we camped near rivers, we did manage to get fish and fresh vegetables. There were, among the soldiers, some very good cooks who were able to prepare delicious dishes from these fish, vegetables and some other fresh leaves eaten fresh like ulam. It was quite normal for us to camp on high ground near flowing rivers as the clean waters allowed us to bathe and do plenty of cleaning, cooking and washing. During the annual but short Hari Raya Aidilfitri periods, the food spread was quite large and we had lemang, ketupat, rendang and a good variety of kuih raya and that could last up to a week. Sometimes we found photos of young girls of about our age; they were volunteers who helped prepare the food packs who must have cheekily placed them in those packs just to cheer us up and that actually did the trick. However, morale of the soldiers was high and we were always supporting and comforting each other particularly when we received sad and devastating news about casualties and deaths of our friends and colleagues. Every time I heard news like these, I felt very angry, frustrated and most vengeful. I felt like, if I ever happened to encounter them, I would catch them, wring their necks until they could not breathe, hang them by their feet and make them suffer enough before shooting them. I had books and past newspapers delivered to me by my very considerate commanding officer, the late Maj-Gen Datuk Johan Hew, of and on and I read them all from cover to cover over and over again; including all the advertisements and notices, in the case of newspapers, until the next delivery. The news I read were sometimes a week old at best. Other reading materials included the Quran and some kitabs.

In one of the fire fights that I was involved, a supply convoy consisting of 12 vehicles escorted by a reconnaissance troop with Ferret scout cars and V-150 APCs was ambushed by CTs along the road flanked by sloping hills with thick undergrowth not very far from our Maong Gajah base camp in Kedah near Pedu Lake (before the dam was constructed) and very near to the Thai border. Casualties on our side were several and most of them were seriously injured but nobody was killed. The counter attack mounted by the RMR infantry company didn‟t come back with any captured or dead terrorists. My troops fired round after round of high explosive ammunition every night for the next three nights covering a very large area but there was still no captured or dead terrorists. Another

incident was near Kampung Lallang in the Sungei Siput area in Perak where a small group of CTs, three of them actually, was sighted on a small hill and the field commander ordered us to cordon the area with a two-layer, shoulder-to-shoulder, man-to-man ring surrounding the „target‟ with the aim to capture the enemies alive instead of killing them. When we closed in on the target, the enemies were nowhere to be seen and we were all puzzled. We were very sure that the sighting, based on our intelligence report which was categorised as A1, was accurate. That led to many theories and one was that they escaped via a tunnel somewhere in the jungle and the other was that these people had special powers and could hide behind leaves. We searched but did not find any tunnel. Many of us however, believed in the latter theory.

An artillery troop equipped with 105mm Howitzers in the „position ready‟ position. Firing starts upon orders received from the gun position officer (GPO).

The mode of operations those days required each infantry brigade involved in the search and destruction of CTs in both East Malaysia and the peninsula to have one three-gun 105mm Howitzer- equipped artillery troop to flush out CTs from their hideouts and we were engaged in many harassing fire missions and fired hundreds of rounds of high explosive ammunition, normally at night, at all the areas suspected to be CT hideouts but we never knew if there were any casualties among them. However, all the time, search-and-destroy operations carried out after the guns ceased firing rendered zero findings. Our jungles are very thick with severely undulating grounds and many meandering big and small rivers and it was very difficult and dangerous to carry out search-and-destroy operations. The situation was a lot worse when it rained and we had to face inclement weather quite regularly. The air force also assisted in the operations either by providing airlifting operations using Sikorsky (Nuris) helicopters to fly in the troops, guns and supplies to the designated gun positions in the heart of our jungles in Perak, Kedah, Pahang, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak, which were not accessible by road or foot, as well as “Eye Observation Posts” (Eye OPs), an air reconnaissance artillery gun control operations using the smaller Alouette helicopters. Communication was by means of fairly obsolete equipment and the PRK 55 mobile signal units. Most of the times we took turns to crank the batteries by hand continuously to provide power for the signal equipment because communication had to be maintained uninterrupted for 24 hours every day. Despite the shortcomings, we still managed it. Orientation was assisted by accurate topographical maps, compasses, rulers and protractors.

Only the CPM members would know the number of casualties they suffered.

In all of our further and advanced training sessions, courses, briefings and debriefings, we were told and reminded that our enemies were members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and their two illegal organisations viz the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), a group formed for their armed struggle, and the Malayan National Liberation League (MNLL). Another organisation was the CPM Marxist-Leninist Faction (CPMML) which was responsible for the constitutional struggle and certain aspects of the illegal or “militant” struggle and there was also the Malayan Communist Youth League (MCYL) recruited from youths aged between 15 and 30. In East Malaysia, we were fighting the North Kalimantan Communist Party (which had no direct links with the Malayan Communist Party), an offshoot of the clandestine communist organisation that was waging a guerilla campaign against the government. Names like Chin Peng, the CPM secretary-general, Rashid Mydin, Abdullah CD, Wahi Annuar, Shamsiah Fakih, Siu Cheong alias Ah Soo, P.V. Sharma, Ah Hoi alias Chen Jui, Sun Chek, Lim Chau, Soh Chee Peng alias Shi Meng and Musa Ahmad were regularly mentioned.

They were not fighting to liberate the country, which they claimed, but their aim was to form a communist republic to be known as the Malayan Peoples Republic and anyone who went against them, regardless of race or religion, shall be killed. We lost many soldiers, mostly young Malay soldiers (there were very few Chinese, Indian and people of other races in the army then), and we also received news that some civilians were also killed. I also remember reading a report about the communists in the early „50s, not long after the Japanese surrendered, and the „60s, where killings were also carried out in towns like Muar, Kluang, Ipoh and Sungei Petani, among others. In 1971, the then-IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim was assassinated at the junction of Lorong Weld and Jalan Tun Perak Kuala Lumpur on June 4, 1974; his driver was also killed and about 16 months later another senior police officer, Perak CPO Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong, was gunned down together with his driver at midday in Ipoh. These assassinations were carried out by members of the 1st Mobile Squad of the CPMML, a squad formed to carry out assassinations. Two other planned assassinations of the then-Chief of Armed Forces Staff, General Tan Sri Ibrahim Ismail (now Tun), and the then Singapore Commissioner of Police, Tan Sri Tan Teik Khim, were thwarted after two CPMML members were arrested and sentenced to death for the murders they committed earlier.

An artillery troop command post with the gun position officer (GPO) giving firing orders using a megaphone.

The communists were trained, both physically and mentally, to be brutal, ruthless and unsympathetic they‟d kill just anyone whom they wanted to. Killings to them were a duty and it was like food for them and they did it without feeling even an iota of guilt.

God save us if they were to take over and rule this country.

I was promoted to Captain in 1976 and left the army in 1979 to continue with my studies and to pursue other interests after feeling fully satisfied and my ambition fulfilled and that I have done my duty and contributed in whatever miniscule way to the continued peace and prosperity of our most beloved country. In my relatively short tenure in the army, I served the 1st Brigade, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 4th Brigade, 5th Brigade, 6th Brigade, 8th Brigade and Rascom and my last attachment was with the 3rd Field Ambulance in Kinrara, Selangor.

All my former classmates at RMC, Sungei Besi April 1972 graduating class have now retired and many made the army or the air force their career and held very senior ranks and positions and they are my very close friends such as Lt-Gen Tan Sri Wan Abu Bakar, Royal Malay Regiment (former director of military intelligence), Lt-Gen Datuk Seri Bashir, RMAF (former Deputy Chief of the Air Force), Maj-Gen Datuk Mokhtar Parman, Royal Artillery Regiment (former director of training), Maj- Gen Datuk Che Yahya, RMAF (former Chief of Staff, RMAF) and Maj-Gen Datuk Che‟ Hasni, Royal Armoured Corp (former director of army training). The others held ranks of no less than Lt-Colonel.

No, for whatever reasons, we must never allow Chin Peng or any of the still surviving members of the CPM to return to this country. They are all traitors!

We, former members of the security forces, can still feel the hurt and pain, both physically and emotionally, whenever we recall the terrifying years dealing with them.

Even though retired, we will take up weapons again and defend our country against any communist threats either by their members, supporters or sympathisers and I will be the first one to do that!

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

No RCB Review by an Incoming Coalition Govt

Have just received a reply letter from Senator Ronaldson, shadow minister for VA.
As you can read from its content, the incoming Lib Gov will not be reviewing the RCB issue when they take power.
Robert Cross

Service at Butterworth Air Base 1970 – 1989 in Context

Service at Butterworth Air Base 1970 – 1989 in Context
Prepared in Support of the RCB Claim for Recognition of Service
Posted by Ken Marsh (Swampy) at 8:34 PM

1. RCB on January 8, 2013 at 11:52 am said:
You may want to check this out
Reply ↓

In many ways Butterworth in the 1970s and 80s was an ideal posting. It offered air force families in particular the chance of an overseas posting with additional allowances and on the surface it appeared exotic and peaceful. Because of strict press censorship and the desire of the Malaysian Government not to unduly alarm the local populace or harm the economy little was said about the existing and serious communist threat. As the local population generally had little to fear from the communists from 1951 on this decision seems well founded. It is perhaps because of this decision that little has been written on the subject and that nature of the insurgency and its impact on the country is not generally understood.

As this paper demonstrates, Australian personnel on strength at Butterworth Air Base (BAB) during the period of the second communist insurgency were exposed to ‘objective danger’ and as such their service should be recognised as ‘war-like’.

The Threat
The second insurgency commenced on 17 June 1968 when ‘the MCP[1] launched an ambush against the Security Forces in the area of Kroh–Bentong in the northern part of [sic]Malaysian Peninsular. They achieved a major success, killing 17 members of Security Forces[2].’ Kroh-Bentong is less than 80 kilometres in a straight line from Butterworth. In the lead up to the second insurgency the communists had ‘developed new techniques of guerrilla warfare and learned much from the Vietnam War on the techniques of fighting guerrilla warfare’[3].

The modus operandi of guerrillas is hit and run attacks by small groups against much larger military forces. Tactics involve sabotage, ambush, raids and petty warfare. The elements of surprise and ‘extraordinary mobility’ are used to harass the enemy[4]. Following the communist split in the early 1970s (see below) Chin Peng’s group ‘sent out “Shock Brigades” – small units which moved south down the peninsula not only to pick off isolated police posts and Security Forces, jungle patrols but also through propaganda to rekindle support for the M.C.P.’ from, their base on the Thai-Malaysian border.[5]

A 1973 report prepared by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency describes a careful and methodical re-establishment of a very competent communist guerrilla force in North West Malaysia.

By mid-1968, some 600 armed Communist insurgents … began to move gradually from inactive to active status under stimulation from Peking. They moved back across the border [from Thailand], first to reconnoitre and then permanently to position themselves in small base areas in northern West Malaysia. The CTs – – that is, Communist Terrorists or members of the MNLA[6] – numbered about 600 regular armed cadres at the close of the Emergency (1948-1960), expanded to about 1,000 by 1968, to about 1,600 in mid-1970, and to about 1,800 in mid-1972. The slow upward progression in the number of armed insurgents represents a positive gain, and the existence of small bases capable of accommodating about 40-60 CTs points toward a long-term potential expansion.’[7]
The Peking-inspired revival of the armed insurgency can be fixed to the date of 17 June 1968 when a force of the MNLA for the first time since the late 1950s attacked a Malaysian security force unit on Malaysian territory. This well-trained Communist force numbered about 40 armed and uniformed men, and their ambush was effectively carried out. The evidence is that the revival of the insurgency in mid-1968 reflected from the start considerable military competence: good planning, tactical caution, good execution. CT units were armed and given uniforms in Southern Thailand and were infiltrated skilfully into Malaysian territory with the initial mission of reconnoitring and re-establishing contacts with underground insurgents. Their mission later became that of making selective attacks on Malaysian security force units and undertaking selective sabotage of key installations in West Malaysia. Toward the end of 1968, the number of NMLA – or CT – incursions from southern Thailand gradually increased. In late 1970, it was solidly confirmed that small groups of CT infiltrators had permanently established small bases for inside-Malaysia operations – a development occurring for the first time since the late 1950s. Later, the base camps were reported to be capable of supporting 40-60 CTs, as they included food caches.
The CTs were still building their units and were not in a phase of general offensive operations. But they did engage in selective strikes against government forces. A major incident involving the mining by CT forces of the main west coast road linking Malaysia and Thailand took place in late October 1969. On 10 December, a strategic installation was hit: a group of CTs blew up the 100-foot-long railway bridge on Malaysian territory about two miles southwest of Padang Besar, Perlis Province, severing for a few days the main railway link between Thailand and Malaysia. Gradually the CTs increased the number of cross-border incursions, their calculation having been to demonstrate their ability to operate on Malaysian territory without suffering extensive combat losses. They wanted to test their own ability to safely infiltrate, to hit important installations and roads, and to move bigger units across undetected. Their planning was careful, the pace deliberate, and the actions generally low risk [emphasis added].’ [8]

According to Ong Wei Chong by ‘1971 … guerrilla strength had grown to an estimated 1,200 with another 3,000 cadres in the villages. By 1971, the Malayan Communists had infiltrated their former village-bases in Kelantan, Kedah and Perak and were operating along the same lines as they had done in the 1950s[9]. Penang’s Province Wellesley (now Seberang Perai), in which BAB is located, shares its northern and eastern borders with Kedah and its southern border with Perak. Kedah is identified as an area where the communists were most active[10], while Perak is described as being an ‘important and vital … bastion’ in the war against the communists during the second insurgency[11].

The communist’s 8th Assault Unit with ‘a strength of between 60 and 70 CTs’ was active in South Kedah, including the area around Kulim, until forced to withdraw by Malaysian security forces in 1978[12]. Kulim is less than 30 kilometres by road from Butterworth.

By October 1974 the MCP leadership had split into three different factions following internal conflicts going back to early 1970[13]. Cheah Boon Keng says that consequently ‘each faction tried to outdo the other in militancy and violence’[14].

Penang Attacked During ‘New Emergency
Writing for the journal Pacific Affairs summer edition of 1977 Richard Stubbs says:

In September 1975 the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Razak, described the recent resurgence of communist guerrilla activity in Peninsula Malaysia as the “New Emergency”. By making the comparison [to the 48-60 Emergency], the Prime Minister clearly signalled the seriousness with which the Malaysian Government viewed the renewal of the communist threat … Not only had there been a number of spectacular terrorist attacks – the bombing of the capital’s War Memorial; the assassination of Perak’s Chief of Police; and the grenade and rocket attacks on the Police Field Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur military air base and several camps in Johore, Port Dickson and Penang – but also, and perhaps more ominously, there had been a steady increase in the preceding three years in the number of police and security force personnel killed and injured. Moreover, the communists seem to have been able to attract recruits and solicit at least some support throughout the peninsula.[15]

Communist Successes
Major Nazar Bin Talib writes:
At the initial stage of their second insurgency, the MCP achieved a significant amount of success. Their actions at this stage were more bold and aggressive and caused considerable losses to the Security Forces. These successes were due to their preparation and the training that they received during the “lull periods” or the reconsolidation period after the end of the first insurgency. By this time, they also had significant numbers of new members, who were young and very aggressive. They had learned from the past that they could no longer rely on sympathizers from the poor or village people for their food and logistics[16].

• Major B. Selleck, the OC of the first RCB deployment to Butterworth, reported that on his second tour of Butterworth in June 71: ‘The CT threat was more serious on this occasion, with training activity limited to the Base and Penang. The CTs were very active, blowing up a bridge five miles North of the Base, and daily skirmishes with the local military and police forces’[17].

• A communist mortar attack destroyed a Caribou aircraft at Sungai Besi RMAF airbase on 31 March 1974[18].
• Malaysia’s third Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim was assassinated on 7 June 1974 by communists on Mountbatten Road (now Jalan Tun Perak), in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, on the order of Chin Peng[19].
• On October 1974 the Marxist-Leninist Faction ‘proclaimed its existence by displaying banners and anonymously distributing leaflets throughout Peninsula Malaysia … numerous terrorist incidents in major urban areas were attributed to its Faction, and their efforts certainly troubled the Government.[20]

• Malaysia’s National Monument in Kuala Lumpur was damaged by an explosion set by CTs[21].
• Perak’s chief police officer was murdered by CTs. Subsequently 3 attempts were made on the life of his successor[22].

• Two of the factions from the earlier split surrendered to Thai troops in December. Following the surrender ‘it was reported that only 1300 guerrillas of the original CPM’s 8th, 10th and 12th Regiments remained active. Peace finally came on 2 December 1989[23]

Malaysian Government Response
In response to Communist inspired fatal race riots in Kuala Lumpur in May 1969 the ‘Government acted promptly … by reintroducing counterinsurgency measures that proved effective during the Emergency years [1948 – 1960]… To guarantee internal security the government maximised the employment of police and provided additional powers to the military to conduct police operations by revisiting the Internal Security Act of 1960’[24]. According to Stubbs they ‘gradually reintroduced counter-guerrilla measures that proved effective during the Emergency years.’ These included ‘short-term curfews … and food-denial programmes’ in those areas thought to be targeted by CTs[25].

Major Nazar Bin Talib provides commentary on the Government’s response to the emergency:

The … Government … introduced a new strategy of fighting the MCP. It was known as Security and Development, or KESBAN, the local acronym, and focused on civil military affairs. KESBAN constituted the sum total of all measures undertaken by the Malaysian Armed Forces and other (government) agencies to strengthen and protect society from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency which effectively broke the resistance…

The government also instituted other security measures in order to meet the MCP menace, including strict press censorship, increasing the size of the police force, resettling squatters and relocating villages in “insecure” rural areas. By mid 1975, when the MCP [Malayan Communist Party] militant activities were at a peak, the government promulgated a set of Essential Regulations, without declaring a state of emergency. The Essential Regulations provided for the establishment of a scheme called a ‘Rukun Tetangga,’50 ‘Rela’ (People’s Volunteer Group). The concept of “Rukun Tetangga” (Neighborhood Watch) had made the Malays, Chinese, and Indians become closer together, and more tolerant of each other. [26]’

The Government decided against ‘declaring a state of emergency during the second insurgency. The reason was a desire to avoid the fears of the populace (leading to increase in ethnic antipathy) and to avoid scaring away needed foreign investment.’[27]

Crisis in the Malaysian Government
While the government responded to the emergency effectively, as demonstrated by its final victory, the Communists unsettled the government. According to one of Malaysia’s leading historians[28], Cheah Boon Kheng:

The communist threat was so serious during the administration of the third Prime Minster Hussein Onn (1976-81) that it was alleged the government had been infiltrated and there was communist influence among UMNO politicians. These allegations arose in the heat of UMNO politics during the party’s annual elections for top posts, and were taken so seriously that two UMNO deputy ministers and several Malay journalists were detained for communist activities[29].

According to Stubbs, ‘Abdul Samad Ismail (former managing editor of the New Straights Times) had communist affiliations and there were suspicions around Government members, ‘particulalry Abdullah Ahmed and Abdulla Majid, close associates of the late Prime Minister, Tun Razak’.[30]

Contrast to 48 – 60
In June 1948 the murder of three planters in the state of Kedah marked the start of the Malayan Emergency, or first insurgency[31]. From the start the communists looked to the local population for support with food and money and coerced cooperation with acts of murder and violence[32]. By 1951 Chin Peng had recognised that terrorism against the civilian population had backfired and gave a directive that there be no more attacks on civilians or the infrastructure on which they relied for their livelihood and well-being[33].

General Sir Harold Briggs arrived in Malaya in 1951 and shortly thereafter developed and implemented the ‘Briggs Plan’[34]. This ‘brought about a serious food crisis for the insurgents because it isolated them from their food suppliers – the Chinese squatters living on the jungle fringes who were forcibly removed by the government and transferred to fenced-in ‘new villages’ that came under government control’[35]. This, along with other military initiatives, saw the guerrillas driven ‘‘deeper and deeper into the jungle’[36].

In the spring of 1953 Chin Peng, the communist leader, fled Malaya to direct operations from Thailand. This had a devastating impact on the morale of the CTs. To quote Barber, ‘it seems that in many ways the heart had gone out of ‘the cause’’[37].

Before the end of 1953 General Sir Gerald Templer, British High Commissioner to Malaya, expressed the view that the ‘military war’s nearly over’ and that only ‘the political one remains …’[38] It was in this year that Malacca was declared the country’s first ‘white area’. A white area was one considered ‘out of the war’. All restrictions such as curfews, rationing and police checks were lifted. By 1955, 14,000 square miles of Malaya had been declared ‘white’. Almost half the country was ‘white’ by the end of 1956[39] and the communists had been reduced to 3,000 fighting personnel[40].

By the time the Second Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment arrived in Penang in 1955 it was a white area[41]. After 1955 ‘when it was evident that the communists were on the run and the government had gained the upper hand’, Penang was a popular ‘rest and relaxation centre’ for many Commonwealth troops and support personnel’, many of whom drove from Kuala Lumpur while others caught the overnight train[42].

At the time the RAAF received ownership of BAB in 1957 the Australian government decided to base three operational units there, which meant providing accommodation for the families of RAAF members. This despite Malaya being ‘an ‘operational’ zone, albeit a fairly benign one …[43].

RAAF School Penang was established in 1958. ‘Prior to 1958, the Australian commitment at Butterworth was the Airfield Construction Unit. The few primary school-aged dependants of these men attended either the RAF School at Butterworth (which closed when the RAF returned to England in 1960) or the British Army Children’s School at Georgetown, Penang. Secondary pupils attended either the British Secondary School at Cameron Highlands or at Singapore.’[44]

It is worth noting the difference between the above circumstances and those at Johore which remained one of the few ‘black’ areas in 1955. The area was considered too dangerous for army wives and they remained in Singapore, but would occasionally be invited to spend a weekend in Kluang if the police could guarantee the safety of the houses in which they would stay[45].

By September 57 only 1,360 CTs remained in Malaya, with another 470 over the border in Thailand[46]. This had reduced to 250 active CTS in the country by the end of 1958[47].

While it seems the number of active terrorists during the first insurgency were significantly more in the early years history shows they were effectively defeated early on, with Chin Peng fleeing the country in 1953. The picture painted by Noel Barber in ‘The War of the Running Dogs’ and other sources is of an demoralised enemy being forced further and further into the jungle where they were hunted down by the security forces. From 1953 on more and more areas were declared ‘white’, meaning they were effectively ‘out of the war’.

By the middle of 1970 there were around 1,600 well trained, bold, aggressive and competent CTs active in Malaysia supported by a greater number of cadres. The CIA estimated that by 1972 this number had risen to around 1800. Richard Stubbs, in his 1977 paper, estimates the number of guerrillas at around 2,600 with Ching Peng’s group being around 2000. It is further estimated that there were approximately 15,000 supporting cadres in Peninsula Malaysia.[48] From the start of the insurgency they targeted security forces, including military establishments, and public infrastructure with their activities peaking in 1975.They successfully conducted terrorist activities from the Thai border in the north to Johore in the south and penetrated areas that had been declared white – and therefore out of the war – since the mid-1950s.

These forces had learned to operate without reliance on the support of the local population – a factor that had contributed to their defeat during the Emergency. Following the surrender of two factions in 1987 around 1300 guerrillas remained active. For almost 20 years they had maintained numbers at a higher level than at any time since the end of 1957 and were not contained in the jungles as they had been for much of the first insurgency.

Butterworth Air Base
Seberang Perai (Province Wellesley) where BAB is located , has an area of approximately 700 square kilometres on the mainland of North West Malaysia. As stated above it shares its northern and eastern borders with Kedah and its southern border part with Kedah and the remainder with Perak. The communists, as noted above, were active in both these states during the second insurgency.

It was against the background described above of growing communist activity in the states immediately surrounding BAB that a 1971 intelligence assessment of the threat to the Base to the end of 1972 considered it ‘possible, but still unlikely, that the CPM/CTO could take a decision to attack the Base …’ However, it also concluded that; ‘There is definitely a risk that one or more CTs or members of subversive groups could regardless of CPM/CPO policy and / or acting on their own initiative, attempt an isolated attack on or within the Base at any time’ [emphasis added]. It was believed these ‘isolated’ attacks could occur at ‘any time’ without advanced warning. Anticipated methods of attack included penetration of the base at night by one or more (up to 20) CTs, sabotage, booby traps, small arms fire or mortar attacks ‘if the CTs acquired this capability …’[49] Clearly, the CTs were using mortars in early 1974 (see above). It must be noted that communist activities continued to escalate after the date of this assessment and that following the split in the early 70s ‘each faction tried to outdo the other in militancy and violence’[50]

Against this background it seems highly unlikely that an Australian military commander would do anything less than take all necessary precautions appropriate to the assessed level of risk to defend Australian assets and personnel. Documents cited in the Rifle Company Butterworth’s submission clearly indicate an increased concern regarding base security and this is supported by the testimony of members of the Company. Confirmation of the existence of Australian intelligence reports indicating several incidents involving CT and Australian troops is contained in an email sent by a Mr Allan Hawke of the Department of Defence to Mr C. J. Duffield[51] Armed patrolling and rules of engagement authorising lethal force can only mean one thing – these men were on a combat footing. Any other conclusion denies the evidence.

In the February 2000 Review of Service Entitlement Anomalies in Respect of South-East Asian Service 1955-1975[52] Justice Mohr addressed the matter of ‘objective danger’. Mohr stated:

To establish whether or not an ‘objective danger’ existed at any given time, it is necessary to examine the facts as they existed at the time the danger was faced. Sometimes this will be a relatively simple question of fact. For example, where an armed enemy will be clearly proved to have been present. However, the matter cannot rest there.
On the assumption that we are dealing with rational people in a disciplined armed service (ie. both the person perceiving the danger and those in authority at the time), then if a serviceman is told there is an enemy and he will be in danger, then that member will not only perceive danger, but to him or her it will an objective danger on rational and reasonable grounds. If called upon, the member will face that objective danger. The member’s experience of the objective danger at the time will not be removed by ‘hindsight’ showing that no actual enemy operations eventuated.
… It seems to me that proving that a danger has been incurred is a matter to be undertaken irrespective of whether or not the danger is perceived at the time of the incident under consideration. The question must always be, did an objective danger exist? That question must be determined as an objective fact, existing at the relevant time, bearing in mind both the real state of affairs on the ground, and on the warnings given by those in authority when the task was assigned to the persons involved.

Clearly, in relation to service at BAB, an armed enemy clearly existed. There was an ‘objective danger’. Additionally, evidenced tendered by members of the RCB, ‘rational people in a disciplined armed service’, were ‘told there is an enemy’ and that they were ‘in danger’. According to the precedent established by Mohr, this ‘objective danger’ cannot ‘be removed by ‘hindsight’ showing that no actual enemy operations eventuated’.

Mohr had earlier stated:

I am fully conscious of the provisions governing the award of medals, qualifying service, etc, in Warrants, Acts and guidelines, The point is however, that so many members of the ADF served in South-East Asia during the period of the Review had no idea of the necessity for themselves or their unit to have been ‘allotted’ before they received qualification for a medal or repatriation benefits and now find themselves disadvantaged years later because those who ordered them to do their duty, which they did, took no steps to ensure the required allotment procedures were attended to when quite clearly they should have been.
There is a procedure available for retrospective allotment but this appears not to have been followed in many cases.
It seems unfair that members of the ADF in this situation should be denied the opportunity to put forward for consideration the nature of their service, which would in many cases, amount to operational and/or qualifying service because of this action, or rather lack of action, of their superiors.[53]

This statement has relevance for the RCB claim.

Reasons for Denying Active Service Classification
Three documents are referred to that provide reasons for rejection of the claim for recognition of ‘war-like service’ at BAB in the period 1970-89:
• A letter from the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General D.J. Hurley, AC, DSC Inquiry into the Recognition of Members of Rifle Company Butterworth for Service in Malaysia between 1970 and 1989, 23rd June 2010, file reference VCDF/out/2010/492;
• 2011 Nature of Service Branch Review ADF Service at RAAF Butterworth 1970-1989, Nature of Service Branch, 14 October 2011; and
• Background Information Paper Nature of Service Classification – ADF Service at RAAF Butterworth, Nature of Service Branch, 14 Oct 2011,

Lieutenant General Hurley’s letter, in paragraphs 8 and 9, cites the March 1994 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Defence and Defence Related Awards, that considered ‘service at Butterworth was clearly or markedly no more demanding that normal peace time service …’ The reason for this conclusion is no doubt the comment cited in paragraph 8, ‘Some of these submissions argued that a low level communist threat continued to exist until … 1989’ (emphasis added).

This ‘low level communist threat’ took 21 years to defeat, compared to the 12 taken to defeat the first insurgency. The communists maintained their numbers throughout the duration of that 21 years at levels in excess of those that had existed in the Malay Peninsula from the end of 1957 (more than two years prior to the end of the first Emergency) and their success in being able to effectively strike at targets in urban areas stands in stark contrast to the 1953 statement of General Sir Gerald Templer that the ‘military war’s nearly over’. This was clearly a dangerous threat that the Malaysian Government considered serious. It was, in the words of the former Prime Minister Tun Razak, the ‘New Emergency’.

While the second document cites a number of documents purported to support the above conclusion those cited by the RCB that clearly indicate real concerns regarding security at the base are not addressed. This evidence should not be discounted.

Paragraph 30 of the second document states that the Ground Defence Operations Centre ‘was never activated due to a shared defence emergency’ and therefore retrospectively concludes that ‘service at Butterworth must have remained as peacetime service subsequent to 8 Sep 1971’. This statement violates the precedent established by Mohr above.

Reference is also made in paragraphs 32 to 36 to the civilian and domestic environment in the Butterworth region. Evidence provided above shows that much of the Malay Peninsula had been declared white by 1955, including Penang which was a popular recreation area for troops serving in Malaya at the time. The author remembers armed police and military roadblocks in Butterworth on more than one occasion during the period July 1977 to January 1980. These would not have been in place in White Areas during the first insurgency.

At paragraph 52 the writer says that the Governor-General cannot make a declaration in regards to the nature of service without prior determination by the Government and a declaration by the relevant Minister. Paragraph 53 then states:

The Minister will only act after firstly considering the informed advice of the CDF, and secondly having obtained the agreement of the Prime Minster. The briefing provided by the CDF would be expected to take into account the impact of collateral financial benefits costed by the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Finance and Deregulation, and any views expressed by these agencies.

The document Background Information Paper Nature of Service Classification – ADF Service at RAAF Butterworth, at paragraphs 73 and 80 make reference to cost, with paragraph 80 stating: ‘The cost of including this service in the DVA budget is assessed as significant.’

Compare this with the following enunciated in Principle 10 of the March 1994 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Defence Awards (CIDA).

Matters relating to honours and awards should be considered on their merits in accordance with these principles, and these considerations should not be influenced by the possible impact, real or perceived, on veterans’ entitlements.

It would appear reference to ‘significant’ costs in the above mentioned document was designed to influence the decision of the Minster and the Prime Minister in violation of this principle.

In a letter to Mr Robert Cross, dated 19 May 2012, Senator the Hon David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, states on page 3:
For any ADF service at Butterworth from 1970 onwards to meet the original intent of hazardous service, the service would need to be shown to be “substantially more dangerous than normal peace time service” and “attract a similar degree of physical danger” as “peacekeeping service”. Peacekeeping service generally involves interposing the peacekeeping force, which may be unarmed, between opposing hostile forces. The immediate threat to peacekeepers is by being directly targeted or by being caught in the crossfire of the opposing forces.

Senator Feeney correctly points out that service at Butterworth was not peacekeeping service. ADF personnel were not interposed ‘between opposing hostile forces’. Rather, they shared the facility at BAB with members of the Malaysian Security Forces who were prosecuting a war against a competent and deadly enemy who during the second insurgency successfully attacked military and police targets, including the air base at Kuala Lumpur. Regardless of any security action taken or not taken by Australian Defence Authorities members of the ADF were opposed to an ‘objective danger’ as discussed by Mohr above, whether they were being ‘immediately targeted or by being caught in the crossfire of the opposing forces’. This danger existed ‘irrespective of whether or not the danger … [was] perceived at the time’ by Australian Forces.

The Minister also notes on page 4 that the ‘Clarke Report accepted that RCB was involved in armed patrolling to protect Australian assets, but concluded that training and the protection of Australian assets were normal peacetime duties.’ The author of this paper has had 20 years military experience, including guard duty at Williamtown and Richmond air force bases. While service rifles were carried on after hours patrolling no ammunition was available and there were no rules of engagement. Further, the author is unaware of sentries at the entrance to any defence establishment in Australia carrying weapons – with or without ammunition. In the author’s five years of service at Butterworth sentries always carried weapons. The Clarke statement does not ring true.

Any fair assessment of the facts can only conclude that Australian personnel at Butterworth during the second insurgency were serving in conditions that meet the criteria for ‘war-like service’. The risk to those personnel serving within the confines of BAB was significantly higher than those who served in the same location from at least the mid-1950s to the end of the 1948 – 1960 Emergency who were granted qualifying service for repatriation benefits as a consequence of that service.

Principle 3 of the CIDA principles states: ‘To maintain the inherent fairness and integrity of the Australian system of honours and awards care must be taken that, in recognising service by some, the comparable service of others is not overlooked or degraded’. This ‘inherent fairness and integrity’ will remain compromised until ADF members serving at BAB during the second communist insurgency are recognised as having participated in ‘war-like service’.

[1] MCP – Malaysian Communist Party
[2] Nazar Bin Talib, Major, Malaysian Army, Malaysia’s Experience in War Against Communist Insurgency And Its Relevance To The Present Situation In Iraq, submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of master of military studies, AY 2004-05, United States Marine Corps, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps Combat Development, Marine Corps University, at http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA505882, accessed 12 Sep 2012, p.17
[3] Ibid.
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerrilla_warfare
[5] Richard Stubbs, Peninsular Malaysia: The “New Emergency”, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer, 1977), University of Brittish Columbia, p.251, accessed at http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2756301?uid=3737536&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101243992931, 6 Oct 2012
[6] MNLA – Malayan National Liberation Army
[7] Directorate of Intelligence (Central Intelligence Agency, USA (CIA)), Intelligence Report: Peking’s Support of Insurgencies In Southeast Asia (Reference Title: POLO LIII), April 1973, p.p. 115, 116, at http://www.foia.cia.gov/CPE/POLO/polo-37.pdf, accessed 12 Sep 2012
[8] Ibid, p.p. 117, 118
[9] Ong Wei Chong, Voice of the Malayan Revolution: The Communist Party of Malaya’s Struggle for Hearts and Minds in the ‘Second Malayan Emergency’ (1969-1975), Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Singapore, 13 October 2006, p.19, at http://www.rsis.edu.sg/publications/WorkingPapers/WP116.pdf, accessed 12 Sep 2012
[10] Ibid, p.26
[11] Ipoh World: Saving Yesterday for Tomorrow, at http://www.ipohworld.org/search8/result.asp?strid=2889, accessed 12 Sept 2012
[12] Ian Ward, Chin Peng, My Side of History, Media Masters, Singapore, 2003, p.41.
[13] Op.cit., Nazar Bin Talib, p.18
[14] Cheah Boon Kheng, The communist insurgency in Malaysia, 1948-90: contesting the nation-state and social change, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 11, 1 (June 2009), p.149, at http://www.nzasia.org.nz/downloads/NZJAS-June09/14_Cheah_3.pdf, accessed 12 Sep 2012
[15] Richard Stubbs, Peninsular Malaysia: The “New Emergency”, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer, 1977), University of Brittish Columbia, p.249.
[16] Op.cit, Nazar Bin Talib, , p.17
[17] A.H. Maple, Lt Col, A History of the Deployment of an Australian Rifle Company to Butterworth, at Annex B: AHU:03-092, file 755-1-20 dated 12th December 2003, cited in RCB Review Group, Submission: Review of Australian Army Rifle Company’s Military Service as Warlike 1970-1989 Butterworth (RCB), undated, p.10
[18] Military Analysis: PASKAU, at http://militaryanalysis.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/paskau.html, accessed 12 Sep 2012.
RCB Review Group, Submission: Review of Australian Army Rifle Company’s Military Service as Warlike 1970-1989 Butterworth (RCB), undated, p.5.
[19] Malaysian Institute of Geomancy Sciences, www.mingsweb.org/kv_art22.asp, accessed 8 Sept 2012
The Star on Line at http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2009/11/29/lifefocus/20091128170722&sec=lifefocus, accessed 8 Sept 2012
[20] Op.cit, Richard Stubbs, p.251
[21] Tugu Negara (National Monument), Kuala Lumpur, at http://www.asiaexplorers.com/malaysia/tugu_negara_national_monument.htm, accessed 12 Sep 2012
[22] Op.cit, Ipoh World
[23] Op.cit,Cheah, p.150
[24] Mohd Zakaria Yadi, Malaysian Emergencies – Anthropological Factors in the Success of Malaysia’s Counter Insurgency, Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, December 2004, accessed at http://calhoun.nps.edu/public/bitstream/handle/10945/1295/04Dec_Yadi.pdf?sequence=1, 1 October 2012.
[25] Op. cit, Stubbs, p.259
[26] Op.cit , Nazar Bin Talib, p. p.19-21
[27] Ibid.
[28] National University of Singapore, at http://www.nus.edu.sg/nuspress/subjects/history/978-9971-69-274-2.html, accessed 12 Sep 2012
[29] Op.cit,Cheah, p.149
[30] Op.cit, Stubbs, p.259
[31] History of the Australia – Malaysia Defence Relationship, at http://www.malaysia.embassy.gov.au/files/klpr/History%20of%20the%20Australia-Malaysia%20Defence%20Relationship.pdf, accessed 30 September 2012.
[32] Noel Barber, The war of the running dogs – How Malaya defeated the communist guerrillas 1948 – 1960, William Collins, 1971, 2004 Paperback Edition by Cassell, early chapters.
[33] Ibid, Barber, p.p. 159, 160
[34] Wikipedia, Brigg’s Plan, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Briggs%27_Plan, accessed 13 Sep 2012.
Op.cit, Barber, p.116
[35] Op.cit, Cheah, p.141
[36] Ipoh World, General Sir Gerald Templer GCMG KCB KBE DSO High Commissioner of the Federation of Malaya, at http://www.ipohworld.org/search8/result.asp?strid=2841, accessed 12 Sep 2012.
[37] Op.cit, Barber, p.230
[38] Ibid, p.232
[39] Ibid, p.p. 234, 279, 302.
[40] Britain’s Small Wars, The Communist Defeat in Malaya, at http://www.britains-smallwars.com/malaya/def.html, accessed 10 Sep 2012.
[41] Biography of R.G.E. Betts, at http://www.justinmuseum.com/famjustin/Bettsbio.html, accessed 10 Sept 2012
[42] MM2H Malaysia My Second Home Forum, at http://www.my2home.info/index.php?topic=1436.0, accessed 10 Sep 2012.
[43] Radschool Association Magazine – Vol 38, at http://www.radschool.org.au/magazines/Vol38/Page10.htm, accessed 8 Sept 2012.
RAAF School Penang Official Website, http://www.raafschoolpenang.com/photopages/raaf.htm, accessed 8 Sept 2012.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Op.cit, Barber p.286
[46] Ibid, p.305
[47] Ibid, p.319
http://www.myfareast.org/Malaysia/emergency.html, accessed 10 Sep 2012
[48] Op. cit, Stubbs, p.251. For details of estimated numbers see footnote #4.
[49] Document: ANZUK Intelligence Groups 1/1971 – The Threat to Air Base Butterworth up to the End of 1972, dated 30th November 1971, cited by RCB Review Group, p.p. 17,18
[50] Op.cit, Cheah, p.149
[51] Email, Hawke, Allan SECRETARY [email protected], sent Monday, 4 September 2000 9:46 AM.
[52] Mohr, Review of Service Entitlement Anomalies in Respect of South-East Asian Service 1955-1975, Feb 2000, p.9
[53] Ibid, p.p. 7,8
Posted by Ken Marsh (Swampy) at 8:34 PM No comments:

Research on RCB Commanders Diary Notes

Its a marvelous invention the internet, it allows us to research and to communicate effectively.I have done a little research and have documents titled Commanders Diary Notes – 6RAR for the period 1971 – 1973.

During this period 6RAR were stationed in Singapore as part of the tri nation 28 ANZUK Brigade.
There are two documents which are of relwevance to our cause, the first is a document titled CT Mine and Booby Trap Markings and Indicators.the second sets out the objectives for D.Coy deployment to Butterworth in Jan 73 direct from Singapore,

The argument that I am trying to put across is that whther it was ANZUK Brigade service or RCB service there was an inherant danger which the government knew about, yet it did at the time sell the service as normal training activity.These documents clearly expose the fact that we were placed in harms way with an expectation of casualties.As follows:

Document a

Instruction of 5 pages
Annex N to 6RAR – R841/1/61
Dated October 1972
CT Mine And Booby Trap Markings and Indicators

The first paragraph sets out the purpose of the instruction, which no doubt was issued by intelligence to 6RAR Comand.

1he purpose of this instruction is to provide a means of identifying CT mine and booby trap marker indicators.

2 The markings and indicators described in this instruction have been found throughout South Vietnam and SE asia, a knowledge of which may prevent friendly casualties.

The instruction goes through a wide range of situations regarding types of markers and indicators however the following highlites the possibiity of danger.

(n) Vehicle Track Markers. The CT have capitalised on our habit of following old vehicle tracks by placing mines into these tracks.The mines may be under the marker or up to 400m away.
(p) an M1A1 anti tank mine with approximately 25lb TNT was discoverd under this marker.The mine had been marked with sticks at each corner and two sticks forming an X over the mine.
5 Placement Procedures. ——————————The best preventive measure so far is to develop in conjunction with local populace an effective inteligence system to discover enemy plans for mining.This will enable friendly forces to conduct ambushes and destroy or capture CT attempting to lay mines.

Conclusion —————Friendly forces are constantly being menanced by CT mine placementsImproved or unimporoved roads,road shoulders,trails,and any probable avenue of approach are subect to mining.The only doctrine that has appeared concerning the placements of mines requires the CT units to know the location of mines within theiir operating area.Mine indicator are only those which have been reported to date. Many more are suspected and if any new mine indicators or mine markings are found they should be reported as knowledge of these markers by friendly forces will aid in the reduction of mine and booby trap casualties.

It is very clear from reading this document that anybody whether or not it be with ANZUK brigade or with RCB were placed at risk when operating in training mode in Malaysia.Malaysia was at war internally and we were placed into a country riddled with mine and booby trap placements, the government was aware of this,yet coninued to exploit the situation.It was very poor risk management to say the least.How would they have explained a casualty to the Australian public, it would possibly never have been revealed to the public.

The second document reinforces the intent of the government to maintain an Australian Army presence in Malaysia knowing full well that Malaysia was at war and that an inherant danger existed not through direct contact with the CT but indirectly through mine and booby trap placements.Have no doubt we were all placed at risk.

AWM 95
Item No 7/6/68
Item 6 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment
1 – 31 December 1972

Deployment of D Coy Group to Butterworth – General Instructions.

The objectives of the deployment is to
1 Provide an Australian Army presence in Malaysia
2 Supplement normal protective security of Air base Butterworth and RAAF families when aproved by 29 ANZUK Brigade.

OC D coy has power of detachmeny command for duration of deployment.
10 The company is the only representative Australian Army organisation in Malaysia and also on RAAF base.
11. The company group is subject to the following standing orders.
a Formation standing Orders
b Base squadron standing orders
c 28 ANZUK brigade standing orders
d 6 RAR company Group staning orders
e 6 RAR staning orders

12 The Coy group is also to be fully conversant with the Base Defence Plan.

Annex B to DCoy
R 841/4/2
Dated December 1972


Prepare for and move to Butterworth using Excercise name of Mountain Stream
Introduction to Butterworth Air Nase
Introduction to RAAF
Introduction to Butterworth / Penang
The Threat
Base Defence Orientation
Mirage Introduction/ familiarisation
Orentation Butterworth / Penang

Once again it is clearly obvious that a threat existed , we were lectured on the threat by 65 Liason Group.

I think it would be important for us to fully exploit the issues that arise from these documents, simply because they are factual and recorded which leave the people like Feeny nowhere to go but other than to listen.


#Research conducted by a former RCB soldier.

Senator the Hon David Feeney – Parliamentary Secretary for Defence 19th May 2012

To see the full letter click on the excerpt below:


Dear Fellow Infantrymen,

A major issue for some time now has been the recognition of service at Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) as “War Like” service. This has been an ongoing issue since 2006 with a small group, RCB Review Group and some individuals fighting to get the proper recognition.

I know some senior officers (mainly from ones that did not serve in RCB) think it was a bit of a jolly and not comparable to their war, Vietnam. We do not make the rules and regulations on the “War Like” situation, but following obtaining some SECRET AUSTEO documentation, it was quite clear RCB was deployed to protect Australian assets in Malaysia against a Communist Terrorist threat. They decided to hide the facts of the deployment under a ruse of calling it a “training activity”.

This training ruse is still accepted by Defence and DHAAT despite much evidence from Senior Defence Officials and Officers, which state otherwise.

Quite clearly Defence and Government officials do not want another 9000 veterans getting access to Repatriation Benefits or publicly acknowledging their deceptive behavior in 1973.

What can we do? We have been working through the normal administrative chain with no successful result. Defence continues with its well-known stonewalling approach to these things by acknowledging your communications, never discussing the content and finally not answering letters or returning phone calls.

The DHAAT approach was totally flawed by receiving coloured evidence from Defence and not even acknowledging evidence provided by the RCB Group, to come up with their desired result.

Where to now? Now we have to take to the legal approach with appeals to the Defence and Commonwealth Ombudsman. Take the case to the Court of Public Opinion with a feature article planned for publication in The Australian. Take the case to sympathetic journalists like Alan Jones and the Bolt Report. They all love stories about Defence’s continuing deceptive behavior. Next all ex members write to your Liberal members or candidates requesting assistance in solving the problem. If you wish write to your Labor member or candidate or the current Minister responsible Senator Feeney who has only just started to talk to us.

The last legal avenue open is to appeal to the Federal Court but with Defence’s legal firepower and prior history of financially persecuting unsuccessful claimants most of us do not want to loose our house or super, so this is an unlikely approach.

How can you help firstly if you have evidence supported by documents or a statutory declaration please send it to Mike Dennis at [email protected] or if you wish to add your name to the RCB Review Supporters Group please send your details to Robert Cross at [email protected]

Attached to this portal are the following submissions, letters and evidence provided by the RCB Supporters Group. We have the support of the RARC, which we appreciate, but only those who made submissions can take the next step under law.

Duty First

LtCol Mike Dennis, MBE

RCB 1977

Chronology of Events

1. 1970 – 1989 Service of RCB in Malaysia

2. 18 Aug 2006 RCB Review Group Submission to Defence Honours and Awards Directorate, DOD (Plus 2.5 inch dossier of attached written evidence).

3. 25 May 2010 LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) submission to Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service.

4. 10 Jun 2010 RCB Review Group Submission of 2006 to Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service (Plus a 2.5 inch dossier of attached written evidence). (Same as Serial 2)

5. 10 Jun 2010 RCB Review Group Addendum Submission to

Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service.

6. 18 Feb 2011 Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal Report into the Inquiry for Members of Rifle Company Butterworth for Service in Malaysia between 1970 and 1989.

7. 7 Jun 2011 Successful FOI request for Defence Submission to the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal VCDF/OUT/2010 dated 23 Jun 2010.

8. 14 Aug 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to the VCDF and Director Defence Honours and Awards Directorate, DOD highlighting the flaws in the Defence Submission.

9. 25 Aug 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to the Acting Chair Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal on the flaws and inconsistencies in the RCB Service Inquiry Report.

10. 6 Sep 2011 Letter From Director Honours and Awards DOD on behalf of the CDF with a non descript negative answer and not addressing any of the issues I raised.

11.  18 Sep 2011 Letter from the Acting Chair Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal acknowledging my letter and referring it to the new Chairman DHAAT. (No further response received)

12. 30 Sep 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to Director Honours and Awards DOD on behalf of CDF response questioning and requiring simple Yes/No answers to his response on behalf CDF. No response or returned telephone calls!



[Download the full document by clicking here.]

From our detailed research we assert that previous Reviews, the latest being the 2003 – Review of Veterans’ Entitlements – (Clarke Report), were flawed because in applying the criteria for determining warlike service they inadvertently did not consider all the relevant facts and therefore incorrectly concluded that RCB service was peacetime service. Accordingly, we request that a further review be conducted to consider all the relevant facts as detailed in this submission.

From an analysis of all the data released to us on the subject, including that provided under the FOI Act from national sources, from international sources and applying that data to the Australian Government’s criteria for warlike service; the role, threat, rules of engagement and the expectation of casualties, we contend that RCB service was warlike and not peacetime service for the following reasons which are detailed in the following Parts of this submission:

  1. The RCB’s operational deployment was authorised by the Australian Government1 but not prescribed by the Governor General as an operational area at the time because of political sensitivities for both Australia and Malaysia. The specific area designated by the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) and repeated in all Commanders’ Directives to the Officer Commanding (OC) RCB was the area within the Butterworth Air Base (BAB).
  2. The deployment was defensive “to protect Australian assets at the Butterworth Air Base” in a country, Malaysia, that was actively involved in armed operations (2nd Malaysian Emergency 1968 – 1989) against a real, clear and present danger from its enemy, the Communist Party Malaya/Communist Terrorist Organisation (CPM/CTO)’s terrorists who were being supported by China and North Vietnam.2 The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), were fighting under their active service classification.3
  3. The RCB’s security role in a military application is Defence. Defence is a specific phase of war, requiring specific deployments,

[Download the full document by clicking here.]

1 Hansard 25th February 1969, pages 33-37: Australian PM John Gorton’s announcement to Parliament. 2 Book: My Side of History by Chin Peng – 2003
3 Letter dated 11th October 2004 from Lim Kui Lee, The Legal Department Ministry of Defence Malaysia.

RCB Doc 3. Mike Dennis RCB Submission

Submission in Support of the Award of the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 and 1975 – for Personnel Who Served in Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) in the Period 1970 to 1989.

[Download the full document by clicking here.]


My name is 860351 Lieutenant Colonel P. M. Dennis, MBE (Rtd). Contact details are as below. I write this submission based on personal observations and of soldiers who served with me when I was the Second in Command of A Company (A Coy) 3 RAR, at RCB in the period July to November 1977. I am aware of a more detailed technical submission to be made by others, which I support, but I thought some personal experiences and observations would be valuable in support of the submissions generally.


A Coy 3 RAR was warned for service in Malaysia as RCB at the beginning of the 1977 training cycle. We were also warned that our deployment would be longer than normal as we were to be the first Australian Army unit to exercise with the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) for many years. It was planned, that we were to be attached to a Royal Malay Regiment Battalion as the fourth company under command of the RFMF Commanding Officer.

Our preparation was extensive as we received intelligence briefings on the Communist Terrorists in Malaysia, conducted the sub unit training course at Land Warfare Centre, Canungra, received combat medical training, full medical and dental checks and were Warned for Whilst On War Service (WOWAS) from a disciplinary point of view.

We were also brought up to full strength with additions from 1 Brigade of a Forward Observation Party, Rear Link Signalers, an Engineer Splinter Team and extra drivers. The full strength of the company was 133 personnel.

From the soldier’s point of view, who on average were aged between 18 and 23 years of age, this was all very real and had very real potential dangers.

[Download the full document by clicking here]

RCB Doc 4. RCB Supplementary Submission


[Download the full document by clicking here]

This submission seeks to determine our claim that RCB service was warlike and

therefore its company members are eligible for the AASM and for qualifying

service for VEA entitlements.

It is an addendum to Reference 2. It specifically addresses:

1. Reference 5. The three conditions required of the The Repatriation

(Special Overseas) Act 1962 within the strategic environment existing in

South East Asia (SEA) at the time and Australia’s involvement in it and

2. References 4 and 5 matters relating to its comments and rejection


We assert that the RCB was a strategic deployment by the Australian

government under its Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) to

protect/defend the Australian assets at the RAAF Base Butterworth (which

included the FPDA’s HQ of the Integrated Air Defence System (IADS)) and was a

strategic ready-reaction force on call for deployment by the Australian

Government as required.

We contend that the RCB’s deployment was covered by The Repatriation

(Special Overseas) Act 1962 because it was a deployment for a specific strategic

role related to the FPDA. This involved a specific allotment for duty requiring it to

defend the Air Base within a country that was at ‘declared war’ with internal

insurgents supported by external communist countries, and where the Base was

being used by the Malaysian Armed Forces (air and ground forces) for offensive

operations against its enemy.

We believe that the RCB’s deployment must be considered within the context

and perspective of: strategic events within the South East Asian (SEA) regional

area, the existing security threats and consequent political and policy decisions

made by the Australian Government at that time.

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