Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

50 Years Pass since Malayan Emergency

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

50 Years Pass since Malayan Emergency

Article excerpt


JULY 31 this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Malayan Emergency where 39 Australian servicemen were killed and a further 27 wounded.

Starting so soon after World War II and with Australian ground troops only committed after the Korean War had reached an armistice; the Malayan Emergency is one of Australia's least known or discussed wars.

The Malayan Emergency was declared on June 18, 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak, northern Malaya.

The men were murdered by guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an

outgrowth of the anti-Japan- ese guerrilla movement which had emerged during World War II.

Despite never having had more than a few thousand members, the MCP was able to draw on the support of many disaffected Malayan Chinese, who were upset that British promises of an easier path to full Malayan citizenship had not been fulfilled.

The harsh post-war economic and social conditions also contributed to the rise of anti-government activity.

The Malayan government was slow to react to the MCP at first and did not appoint a director of operations to counter the insurgency until March 1950.

The new director planned to address the underlying economic, social, and political problems facing the Chinese community while, at the same time, bringing government control to the fringe areas where the MCP received much of its support.

Before this plan was fully implemented, however, the situation deteriorated further with the assassination of the British High Commissioner in October 1951.

The attack galvanised British resolve to meet the threat posed by the MCP; the Malayan government, in turn, stepped up counter-insurgency measures.

Prolonged operations were undertaken against the communists in an effort to destroy their base of support in local communities and to drive them into the jungle, where it would be difficult for them to receive supplies from supporters.

Australia's involvement in the emergency began in 1950 with the arrival of RAAF aircraft and personnel in Singapore.

Dakotas from 38 Squadron were deployed on cargo runs, troop movements, and paratroop and leaflet drops in Malaya, while six Lincoln bombers of 1 Squadron provided the backbone of air operations.

As the capacity of army and police units operating against the communists improved, however, the need for air power decreased, and by 1952 Lincolns were increasingly used as part of combined air-ground assaults against the communists.

By October 1955, when the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), arrived in Penang, the outcome of the Emergency was no longer in doubt, although a lengthy "mopping up" stage followed, largely undertaken by Australian troops. …

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