Malaya Emergency shows the way to fight

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
The example set by the British Army during the Malayan Emergency holds the key to winning modern wars, Malaysia's deputy prime minister said as his country prepared to celebrate 50 years of independence.

The war between 1948-60, which was the last successful counter-insurgency campaign by a Western army, "set the benchmark" for such actions, said Najib Razak.

"If only other nations took a leaf from our experience maybe some parts of the world would be better than they are today."

The British defeat of Communist rebels in what was then Malaya allowed the country to become a capitalist democracy and one of Asia's richest economies.

It was during the Emergency that General, later Field Marshal, Sir Gerald Templer coined the phrase "hearts and minds".

Some of the strategies used, such as the "oil spot" principle of securing rebel-free areas then expanding them, have indeed been studied by the Americans in Iraq.

Col H R McMaster drew on the experience to secure the northern Iraqi town of Tel Afar in 2005 before being recalled to the Pentagon to help plan the war.

But not all of the methods used in Malaya might be acceptable to public opinion today.

Under a raft of strategies called the Briggs Plan, 500,000 mostly ethnic Chinese villagers - about 10 per cent of the population at the time - were corralled into "New Villages" that the veterans refer to bluntly as "concentration camps".

The strategy denied the enemy access to food and information from the civilian population.

"The whole area would be surrounded at the crack of dawn," said K L Chye, a member of the Malaysian home guard. "Every family was allocated a truck. It was a long convoy of 200 trucks with armoured cars."

They would be resettled inside a barbed wire and chain-link fence with floodlights. Nevertheless, it took British forces 15 years to defeat an enemy whom they outnumbered by 40,000 to 7,000.

Today British Army veterans will join the Independence Day parade through the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has awarded them medals for their help, which the British government has allowed them to wear for the next few days after initially objecting.

Britain does not normally allow foreign awards where a British medal already exists or when the campaign was more than five years ago.

The veterans recalled the terror of jungle warfare, in which an ambush could come at any moment.

Warrant Officer Ron Stevens, 82, said: "A lot of the lads would be in the jungle for weeks on end chasing the Communists. We'd take them to the leave centre and some of them was [sic] nearly crazy."

As with contemporary counter insurgencies, awkward questions were raised about human rights abuses. Allegations that British forces collected insurgents' heads were raised in Parliament and strongly denied.

"I saw them coming back in with heads," said Mr Leslie Davidson, 75, who worked in the palm oil industry at the time.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/31/wirq231.xml

We used to get it right!
 
#2
Some history....
Chen Ping was also given the OBE by King George 6th!
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
boris7 said:
Some history....
Chen Ping was also given the OBE by King George 6th!
And trained by British officers in insurgency tactics to fight the Japs.

Incidently, I spent a drunken evening once with 2 retired Malaysian Army officers who'd cut their teeth as junior officers patrolling northern Malaysia in the mid-60's in search of Chinese Communist guerillas.
 
#6
"But not all of the methods used in Malaya might be acceptable to public opinion today"

Understatement to say the least.
 
#7
Nevertheless, it took British forces 15 years to defeat an enemy whom they outnumbered by 40,000 to 7,000.
Yes, 15 years, and we were in control of all civil administration, internal security forces and military assets from the outset!
 
#9
barbs said:
Nevertheless, it took British forces 15 years to defeat an enemy whom they outnumbered by 40,000 to 7,000.
Yes, 15 years, and we were in control of all civil administration, internal security forces and military assets from the outset!


...but in todays Britain, we only have an attention span of 5 minutes before progress needs to be reported.
 
#10
rickshaw-major said:
"But not all of the methods used in Malaya might be acceptable to public opinion today"

Understatement to say the least.
Mores the pity.
 
#12
The_Cad said:
rickshaw-major said:
"But not all of the methods used in Malaya might be acceptable to public opinion today"

Understatement to say the least.
Mores the pity.
Seconded. In those days the micro examinations of certain elements of the media were non existant. There was no CPA fiddling about in the early days of Malaya either.
 

Alsacien

LE
Moderator
#13
rickshaw-major said:
"But not all of the methods used in Malaya might be acceptable to public opinion today"

Understatement to say the least.
Collecting heads would go down well with at least the subset of public opinion represented on this forum :wink:
 
#14
I believe (in Malaya) there was a controversial photo of a Royal Marine carrying a head that caused a few lefties to flip. However the Marine may have just been clearing up the mess so to speak.
 

Alsacien

LE
Moderator
#15
FARMBOY said:
I believe (in Malaya) there was a controversial photo of a Royal Marine carrying a head that caused a few lefties to flip. However the Marine may have just been clearing up the mess so to speak.
Sgt's mess or Officers mess :?
 
#16
FARMBOY said:
I believe (in Malaya) there was a controversial photo of a Royal Marine carrying a head that caused a few lefties to flip. However the Marine may have just been clearing up the mess so to speak.
Some of the photos were proved to have been faked by the commie newspapers here in the UK.
 
#17
Alsacien said:
FARMBOY said:
I believe (in Malaya) there was a controversial photo of a Royal Marine carrying a head that caused a few lefties to flip. However the Marine may have just been clearing up the mess so to speak.
Sgt's mess or Officers mess :?
Probably the Officers after a rather rough game of mess Rugby.
 
#18
My father learned Chinese during the war and having joined the Malayan Colonial Service post-war and Army was drafted to the Police when the Emergency started. He ran an anti-Communist Tracking unit up near the Thai border and was also involved in the "resettlement" of villages. He once described how they cordoned villages suspected of supplying the Communist Chinese and every person going in and out of the village was searched for food - the only decent stuff the Communists were getting.

There must have been some extraordinary things going on. Would love to know more but like so many of his generation he thinks it's not very interesting to anyone else.
 
#19
Bouillabaisse said:
boris7 said:
Some history....
Chen Ping was also given the OBE by King George 6th!
And trained by British officers in insurgency tactics to fight the Japs.
Two good books to check out on those very issues are:

- The Jungle is Neutral by Col Spencer Chapman (he spent a fair amount of time time with Chin Peng and/or his associates during WW2)
- The War of the Running Dogs by Noel Barber - excellent book

My old man did his NS with 1 Loyals - from the photos I have and the few stories he told me the impression I have is that Malaya was a very long & tedious slog with only the occasional warm beer at the end of the day :D

lancslad
 
#20
My Uncle was in the Manchesters (now part of Kings I believe) and was in the Malayan Emergency, he is dead now but my Dad is still in touch with my uncles mates. One of them wrote a book called "Jungle Bashers" about the Manchesters in Malaya - a very good read about another largely forgotten conflict.
 

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