About The Malayan Emergency 1948-1960
The Malayan Emergency was declared in June 1948 when three European estate managers were killed by Malayan Communist Party (MCP) guerrillas. Denied the opportunity to gain Malayan citizenship, Malayan Chinese members of the MCP sought to use violence to overthrow British colonial rule after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War. The MCP’s assassination of the British High Commissioner in October 1951 made Britain more determined to meet the communist threat.
Australia’s involvement began in 1950 when Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft and personnel arrived in Singapore as part of the Far East Air Force. The first Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships the Destroyers HMAS Arunta and HMAS Warramunga sailed into the operational area off Singapore on 2 July 1955 closely followed on the following day by the Frigate HMAS Quadrant.
The first Australian ground troops, the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), arrived in Malaya in October 1955 and were followed in 1957 by 3RAR and by 1RAR in 1959. All were engaged in patrols, ambushes, and in guarding villages. Australian artillery, engineers, and an airfield construction squadron also served in Malaya.
Other ships that served in Malayan waters during the Emergency were HMA Ships Anzac, Melbourne, Queenborough, Quiberon, Quickmatch, Sydney, Tobruk, Vampire, Vendetta and Voyager some of which took part in shore bombardments against terrorist positions in the Johore State.
With limited support, the MCP was poorly resourced and lacked the numbers to succeed. By 1959 operations were winding up and many members of the MCP crossed the border into Thailand. The Emergency was declared officially over on 31 July 1960 but anti-MCP operations continued into 1963.
Australia’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency was one of the nation’s longest continuing military commitments.
The Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour lists the names of 44 Australians who lost their lives during the Malayan Emergency, the majority of whom were in the army.