This was a guerrilla war fought in the Federation of Malaya which lasted from 1948 until 1960 and cost the lives of 44 Australians. The Malayan Emergency was a conflict fought between the UK, Commonwealth and other security forces against Communist insurgents led by Chin Peng in Malaya.
The Federation of Malaya, a federation of eleven states (nine Malay states plus two of the British Straits Settlements, Penang and Malacca), came into existence on 1 February 1948. Essentially, the Emergency began on 16 June 1948 when European plantation managers in Perak were executed by members of the Malayan Communist Party.
The British declared a State of Emergency in Perak on 18 June, and then enacted emergency measures country-wide from July.
It was an ‘undeclared war’: the rubber plantations and tin-mining industries urged the use of the term ‘emergency’ since their losses would not have been covered by Lloyd’s insurers if it had been termed a ‘war’.
Amazingly, the battle was never branded a war due to insurance purposes.
The Malayan Government officially declared the Emergency over on 31 July 1960. Continuing negotiations between Indonesia and Malaya ended the Confrontation, and the two sides signed a peace treaty in Bangkok in August 1966.
Twenty-two Australians were killed during Confrontation, seven of them on operations, and eight were wounded.
An official party of senior Malaysian dignitaries visits the troop transport HMAS Sydney on its arrival in Singapore from Sabah. From left to right the group includes the commanding officer, Captain John P Stevenson, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, the Chief of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General the Tunku Osman and the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Chief of Naval Staff, Commodore Anthony M Synott who was on loan from the RAN.