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  1st Battalion
Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment
in Malaya and Borneo
1965 - 1967
    By 1967, when Victor Company deployed to Vietnam from our base in Malaya, New Zealand battalions had been on continuous service in Malaya as part of Commonwealth forces for ten years, since late 1957, when the New Zealand Government sent a battalion to serve against the Communist Terrorist uprising. It replaced the New Zealand SAS Squadron which had been on active service in Malaya for two years.

The Malayan Emergency ended in July 1960. The New Zealand infantry presence was retained in Malaya, and in August 1964 was again placed on active service, during the period of "Konfrontasi" mounted by Indonesia against the newly formed Malaysian federation. It conducted operations in Pontian on the Malay peninsular, and in Borneo, with two separate six-month deployments in 1965 and 1966.

The battalion had built up considerable expertise in jungle warfare, and had an unrivalled reputation.

In May 1967, when the original Victor Company deployed to Vietnam, about two-thirds of the company had already been in the South East Asian theatre for eighteen months. The balance had been in Malaya for about six months.

Most of us arrived in Malaya around October 1965. The battalion was stationed at Terendak Garrison near Melaka (Malacca), as part of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade comprised of British, Malaysian, Australian and New Zealand forces.

When we arrived, 1 RNZIR was still classified as being on active service, following operations in Malaya and Borneo throughout 1965, helping defend against the Indonesian "Konfrontasi". Half of our battalion had been involved in those operations, and they passed on their knowledge and skill to us.

In Malaya we mostly went on training exercises, and we patrolled beaches and guarded vulnerable points against the decreasing likelihood of Indonesian, or Indonesian inspired, landings and sabotage.

From about May to October 1966 the battalion was again on operations against the Indonesians in Sarawak in Borneo. This time we were part of 99th Gurkha Brigade of the 17th Division. We were known to the Indonesian side as the "Big Gurkhas" due to the number of Maori in the battalion, and the reputation of the unit in jungle warfare. 17 Div was the old 17th Indian Div that had been prominent in India and Burma during the 2nd World War.

Battalion HQ was at Balai Ringin, inland from the capital city, Kuching, towards the border with Indonesia. C Company was in reserve at Balai Ringin, and operated all over the battalion area. A, B and D Companies were stationed in two forward bases near the border.

We returned to Terendak after Borneo, and once again there was a half battalion changeover around November 1966.

Leave, rest and recuperation, and Christmas, was followed by another round of re-training as the battalion absorbed the latest reinforcements from New Zealand and became operationally ready again.

Then in March or April 1967 1 RNZIR was ordered to send a company group to South Vietnam to operate as part of the 1st Australian Task Force. The original Victor Company was formed.

Malaya Borneo Veterans 1948 / 1966

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