National Service Malaya and Hong Kong

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by jagman, Oct 26, 2011.

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  1. Chatting to my father today and despite never once discussing it over the years I asked him today about his National Service
    Apparently he did is time in the ACC, travelling to Hong Kong on the MV Empire Windrush via Singapore and spending a few weeks in Malaya on the way. Due to ship breakdowns and a typhoon the journey was around two months!
    Due to the Windrush catching fire and sinking his return was by another ship the MV Empire Fowey. Both ships being German ships during the war and taken by Britain at the end of the war.

    He reckoned he was given a medal for being in a transit camp in Malaya for a fortnight on the way out, he seemed to think it a bit daft (and the medal itself lost years ago) but I was curious as to how that worked and thought some of the older Arrser's might be knowledgable on such things. Did they really dole out medals to national servicemen for that kind of thing?
  2. I believe you had to be in the active service zone for no less than 3 months.
    Of course now days I believe it to be 1 month, unless of course you are a visiting MP. :wink:
    If I'm wrong I'm damn shore someone will correct me :lol:
  3. The clasp 'Malaya' to the GSM 1918 - 1962 was awarded for one or more days' service on the strength of a unit in the Federation of Malaya. (source Spink British Battles and Medals).

    Choo woo - is that the 1937 to clapham coming through!!
  4. I think it does depend on dates to justify the qualifying period for the medal.
    Need year dates?
  5. According to Spink BB&M the clasp 'Malaya' was awarded with the GSM 1918 - 1962 for service in the Federation of Malaya between 16th June 1948 and 31st July 1960. (The Naval GSM clasp 'Malaya' was awarded for 28 days afloat or one day ashore with 3 Commando Brigade or other eligible force or for one operational sortie by Naval air crews over land during the same period.)

    Not to be confused with the clasp 'Malay Peninsula' awarded with the later Campaign Service Medal for service between 12th August 1964 and 12th June 1965. This clasp required 30 days' service within the operational area as opposed to 1 day for the former medal and clasp.

    As the OP's father was a National Serviceman then it is the earlier GSM 18-62 with clasp 'Malaya' that he is on about.
  6. Yes, it was a day's service.
    Being a NS man would have no bearing on it, the qualification would have been the same, but I would expect it would depend on his being on the strength of the troopship (and thus by extension, the transit camp). Do you have the possibility of seeing his Certificate of Service (Red Book) which should indicate his time in theatre. Sounds like the transit camp would have been Nee Soon in Singapore. Singapore also qualified for the Malaya clasp.

    The best story I heard along those lines was that during the Korean war, the British support base was in Japan but the detention barracks for British troops in Japan was in Korea so those sentenced served their time in Korea.
    Whether or not that's true or an army myth, I don't know, but medal criteria doesn't mention anything about SUS being excluded.
  7. Yes understand now.
    Also find this very interesting as my dad was in Malaya from 1951, (and self but a kid).
    The ribbons were also different.

    The Malaysian Peninsula may be a conflict on dates though. The following is what I believe to be correct but?

    A campaign was operated in the Malaysian Peninsula and Singapore area as an extension of the concurrent Borneo conflict.
    Service on operations in Malaysia and surrounding waters was recognised by the institution of a separate campaign clasp,
    Malay Peninsula for the general service medal.
    The qualifying period was 30 days service between 17th Aug 1964 and 11th Aug 1966.
  8. You're correct my dates were wrong = 17th August 64 - 11th August 66
  9. I think you were right both times, I don't have a source at the moment but I believe the 1965 end date referred to land operations in the peninsula but the extension to '66 referred to operations in Malay waters by RN and possible RAF also.
  10. Thanks, i've checked BB&M and there was a different end date for ops on land and at sea (or flying patrols over Malay waters) 12th June 65 for land, 11th August 66 for sea.
  11. Cheers gents!
    He did say everyone on the troopship got a medal for being in the transit camp and he thought it a bit daft.
    As far as I can tell, of the two years national service he did he spent nearly four months in transit (there and back) which is a hell of a contrast between 60 years ago and now.
  12. Never thought to ask him to be honest. Was quite surprised that he never mentioned he spent a couple of years in the far east as a young national serviceman. Allhe said was I'd never asked so he's never mentioned it.

    Apparently the Empire Windrush was in a bit of a state when they went out east on it. Broke down on the wya to Suez and had to be towed into Port Said for repair. He was sheduled to return on the same ship but it sank and they were delayed to return on the Empire Fowey.
    Anybody know what the normal passage time from Southampton to Hong Kong would have been? Presumably the Empire troop transports were all clapped out by the 1950's?
  13. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Along similar lines. I changed cap badge and in my new role I met a guy (who became a good friend and I did once meet him in the corridor outside where I now sit, but I haven't seen him for years now). He had been with (iirc) 1 Queens who had handed over Alanbrooke Bks, Paderborn to 15/19H. So we had a lot in common.

    He told us how they'd been in West Berlin at some time. Some bigwig was visiting. The streets were to be lined for the drive past. Opposite 1 Queens, who were fresh back from Belfast, was a battalion of Septics in transit to their zone in West Germany. The Queens were all wearing GSM 1962 with clasp Northern Ireland, as you do. (Except the CO, who took over the battalion after the tour and not being proud wearer of said inch of glory. When he realised he was the only person in the battalion without a GSM, he did some research and discovered some strange connection between the battalion and some Austrian prince or something and he took to wearing the sash on behalf of the battalion. Austrian Prince walt!)

    This septic warrant officer noticed all these Queens on the street opposite, all wearing this inch of glory, so he bimbled over the road (the motorcade was not due for a long time) and asked about it. When it was clear to him that it was For Campaign Service, he commented "Ah shit yeah, we get a medal like that because we all stage here in Berlin, it's classed as an occupied war zone and we get a medal for it." He had explained to him what they had had to go through to earn a GSM, he quickly walked back across the street and whispered to his men, who immediately stopped standing and leering at the ******* Limeys on the other side of the street and started to smile respectfully.

    Made up story? Who cares. It's the sort of bullshit story we'd all tell, nicht wahr?
  14. My Uncle fought in Malaya in the 50's and tells very funny dits about his time out there, one of the blokes he was with wrote a book about their experiences and the cover has my Uncle on it with his trusty Bren Gun. I may have spelt this wrong but the trackers they used where called Eban and where paid for killing the bad guys. Proof of said killing was ears and they pretty quickly cottoned on that if you cut both off you got paid for 2 dead commies. After a while the brits switched on to this and it was 1 pair of ears for a dead commie.......Oh and THEM where nuts even back then.
  15. That, and talk of Malaya has revived a long-dormant memory.

    Eons ago, I was on Salisbury station waiting for a London connection and I got chatting to a USAF guy who was in uniform, not a common sight outside East Anglia. He was, I suppose, getting towards the end of his service and had quite a few ribbons up. Amongst the fruit salad (and not at the end, either) was an unmistakable GSM 1918-62 ribbon.

    Isn't that a British ribbon?, I asked. Yes, he said, It's for my time in Malaya.

    Too young at the time to wonder about the whys and wherefores, I just accepted it without delving further.

    I have little doubt that both he and his claim to the GSM were genuine. But two things must have happened, firstly he must have been granted the medal by UK and secondly, permission to wear it, maybe even at presidential level, must have been given.

    The only US involvement in the Emergency I have come across is the account of a US Army office seconded to a British battalion. It's quite feasible that the US might have been involved, not directly but in a technical role, our helicoptor force was in its infancy for example.

    There was probably a good incentive to assist; the 'Domino Theory 'of one country falling to communism after another was quite in fashion at the time and even a decade after the Emergency, Britain would be training South Vietnam (ARVN) troops at the Jungle Warfare School at Johore Baru.

    So, I'm guessing that there was some US back-room assistance in the Malayan Emergency- not trumpeted at the time and now pretty well forgotten.