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AN08 HISTORICAL INFORMATION RELEVANT TO THE PERIOD OF THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY AND INDONESIAN CONFRONTATION
Advisory from Disability Compensation Branch
This is an advisory note only. It is not a Repatriation Commission Guideline or a Departmental Instruction. It is provided for your information and intended only as a guide. It is not meant to replace any fully researched material. Additional material may be added from time to time. Readers are asked to supply corrections and additions to National Office.
HISTORICAL INFORMATION RELEVANT TO THE PERIOD OF THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY AND INDONESIAN CONFRONTATION
1 February 1948 - The Federation of Malaya constituted
The Federation comprised the four Federated Malay States of Pahang, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Selangor, and the five Non-Federated States of Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu, also the two British Settlements of Malacca and Penang.
18 June 1948 - Malayan Emergency begins
The Malayan Government declared an official 'State of Emergency'. Communist Terrorists ('CTs') had been attacking isolated towns and farms. A campaign of intimidation and propaganda by the 'CTs' commenced.
Australian air forces committed to defend the Malayan Federation.
The Emergency was slowing down by this time as the 'CTs' lost support and influence and were forced to retreat into jungle areas.
1955 - Far East Strategic Reserve Formed
FESR was formed with the intention of deterring Chinese aggression against the countries of South-East Asia by having substantial forces on the spot. Whether or not Australian ground forces would be used in the Malayan Emergency was much debated and coloured by political developments in Australia, Singapore and Malaya.
Australian ground and naval forces committed to fighting the last of the 'CT' forces. By the end of the year the Emergency was largely over but trouble continued to break out periodically for the next 5 years.
31 August 1957 - Malayan Independence
The Federation of Malayan States became an independent nation.
31 July 1960 - Emergency Ended
On this date the Government of Malaya officially declared the Emergency at an end.
December 1962 - Brunei Revolt
A revolt broke out in Brunei against its inclusion in the proposed Malaysian Federation. Indonesia supported the revolt.
The revolt is considered as the start of Confrontation. It was suppressed with the help of British and Gurkha troops. Some Australian personnel were attached to these forces.
In the end Brunei did not join the Malaysian Federation.
20 January 1963 - Confrontation Began
This date represents the declaration of confrontation policy ('Konfrontasi') by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Subandrio.
16 September 1963 - Federation of Malaysia
The Federation came into being and comprised the former Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah). Brunei was not included.
Confrontation with Indonesia
The Philippines (which claimed Sabah as a former dependency) and Jakarta refused recognition of the Federation of Malaysia. Indonesia rejected the findings of the UN Mission to Borneo, and adopted a 'Crush Malaysia' stand. The brunt of confrontation fell on Sabah and Sarawak where the Indonesians made military incursions along their common borders.
Commandos also landed on the Malayan peninsula in August and September 1964. On 29 October 1964 two parties of infiltrators landed at the mouth of the River Sungei Kesang, just south of Malacca. There were several landing scares along the coast in November-December 1964 and March and May of 1965.
9 August 1965 - Independence for Singapore
Singapore withdrew from the Federation of Malaysia to become the independent Republic of Singapore.
11 August 1966 - Confrontation Ended
The Treaty of Bangkok was signed on 11 August 1966. This officially ended 'Confrontation'.
Description of Periods in Schedule 2
Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation
Item 2 of Schedule 2 - 29 June 1950 to 31 August 1957 - Malaya
This covers the period of the emergency from the beginning of Australian involvement to the date the Federation of Malaya acquired independence on 31 August 1957. It represents the period of highest activity. By 1955 the situation had become mainly a clean-up operation.
Item 3 of Schedule 2 - 1 September 1957 to 27 May 1963 - Malaya & Singapore
The start date is a continuation from Item 2. The end date represents the day before the commencement of the Repatriation Special Overseas Service Act 1962 (SOS Act).
Although the Emergency ended in 1960, the possibility existed that the remnants of the CT forces could possibly pose a threat to Australians stationed in Malaya. However these forces only posed a threat to Australian personnel in operations on the Thai-Malay border.
Item 5 of Schedule 2 - 28 May 1963 to 19 April 1967 - North Malaya/Thai border (Not Butterworth)
The start reflects the commencement of the SOS Act. The significance of the end date has not been able to be established.
Australian involvement on the Thai border came to an end on 30 November 1964.
Item 6 Schedule 2 - 8 December 1962 to 30 September 1967 - Borneo
The start date is the date the rebellion broke out in Brunei. The end date is on advice from Defence. The significance of this date has not been able to be established. (see also Item 7)
No Australian units served in Brunei during the rebellion, however individual members of the ADF were attached to British units in Brunei.
Order for all British and Commonwealth units to crease operations came into force on 12 August 1966 following signing of the accord to end hostilities. The withdrawal was completed in November 1966.
Item 7 Schedule 2 - 17 August 1964 to 30 September 1967 - South Malaya & Singapore
The start date reflects the first Indonesian landing on Malay Peninsula. End date is on advice from Defence. The significance of this date has not been able to be established. (see also Item 6)
On the night of 1-2 September 1964, Indonesians parachuted into Johore. On 29 October 1964 two parties of infiltrators landed at the Sungei Kesang river mouth, just south of Malacca. There were several landing scares along the coast in November-December 1964 and March and May of 1965.
Acts Relating to Service in
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956
This Act provided benefits to certain members of the Forces who served in Malaya with, or in connection with, the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve, and for purposes connected therewith. Assented to 1 September 1957.
The Act was amended in 1962 to say that Malayan service of a member of the forces does not include service after the commencement of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1962.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1962
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1962, which came into effect on 28 May 1963, was to provide benefits for certain members of the Defence Force who served on 'Special Service' outside Australia, and for purposes connected with that service. This service includes Malaya and Vietnam. The Act gained Royal Assent on 14 December 1962.
Medals - Malayan Emergency
GSM with Clasp 'Malaya' and Naval GSM with Clasp 'Malaya'
The GSM 'Malaya' was awarded to Army and RAAF for service in:
- Malaya between 16 June 1948 and 31 July 1960
- Singapore 16 June 1948 to 31 January 1959
- Air crew over Malaya 1 February 1959 to 31 July 1960
The Naval GSM 'Malaya' was awarded to the RAN for service between 16 June 1948 and 31 July 1960:
- off the Malayan Coast
- up a river or creek in the Federation of Malaya
The medal was awarded to approximately 4,500 veterans of the Australian Defence Force including about a dozen RAN personnel. All Australian Defence personnel who have either the GSM 'Malaya' or Naval GSM 'Malaya' are also eligible for the Australian Active Service Medal 'Malaya'.
- ArmyOne or more day's service on the strength of a unit in the Federation of Malaya or the Colony of Singapore since the first qualifying date inclusive.
- Air Force Same as for the Army. Service with detached squadrons based elsewhere also qualified.
- Navy There are two criteria. The first is, 28 days service afloat in ships or craft patrolling off the Malayan Coast in support of operations against bandits. The second is, one journey in a harbour defence launch, motor boat or other small craft up a river or creek, in the Federation of Malaya, in close support of operations against bandits.
Australian Service Medal (FESR)
The Australian Service Medal (FESR) is awarded to the RAN for 30 days or periods amounting in aggregate to 30 days service between 2 July 1955 and 30 October 1971 for service with the Far Eastern Strategic Reserve.
It is proposed that Naval GSM with clasp 'Malaya' and AASM 1945-75 with clasp 'Malaya' and the Returned from Active Service Badge (RASB) be awarded for RAN service with FESR between 1955 and 1960.
All contacts concerning medals should be by the claimant direct to the respective Medals Areas.
RAN personnel or Merchant Mariners
Navy Medals Section
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Australian Army personnel
Army Medals Section
GPO Box 5108BB
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
Air Force Medals Section
Department of Defence
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Recommended reading materials
The Official History of Australia in SouthEast Asian Conflicts 1948-1975 has three parts that are of interest
“Emergency and Confrontation”, Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1996. This is Army operations.
“Up Top”, Jeffrey Grey, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998. This is Navy action.
“The RAAF in Vietnam”, Chris Coulthard-Clark, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1995. This is RAAF beginning in Thailand and ending in Vietnam.
Thanks to Ann Donnelly and Anthony Staunton for the summaries provided for this advice.
If you have any additional information please contact them on (02) 6289 6439 (Ann) or (02) 6289 6640 (Anthony).
John R Douglas
Policy Eligibility and Research
31 May 2000