Veterans mark 'forgotten war'
It was called an emergency for insurance purposes but to those who served, it was definitely a war, Sven Herselman reports.
The New Zealand men who served and died in the Malayan Emergency were yesterday remembered at a memorial service in Blenheim.
The event also celebrated the end of hostilities 54 years ago. The conflict, which was never officially declared a war, lasted 12 years, of which New Zealand servicemen were involved for 11.
The country began marking Malayan Veterans Day only in 2012.
This was only the second year that Marlborough had celebrated the end of the conflict and commemorated the fallen servicemen, but the Marlborough Malayan Veterans' Association has decided to hold a ceremony every year.
Founding member Peter Callahan spoke of the invaluable service the New Zealand armed forces made. "It's New Zealand's most forgotten and least known war. It was the only war the West won against the East since the end of the Second World War," he said.
Veteran Peter Jones, who moved to Picton from Auckland three years ago, still recalls the harsh conditions: "I actually liked the jungle but it was the heat, it was just relentless, and the rain made things very tough," he said.
He also remembers the Malayan people for their hospitality. He served in the army and has been back to the country twice since the end of the conflict, the last time in 2000.
Commemorating the end of the hostilities and remembering those New Zealanders who died for the cause were important, and he was glad to be a part of it, Jones said.
New Zealand forces first entered the conflict when the air force began airdrops in 1949.
The navy and the army joined in later.
The "guerrilla war" was fought between Commonwealth forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army, the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party.
The conflict first began when three European rubber plantation managers were killed, but plantations and tin-mining industries pushed for the use of the term "emergency" because their losses would not have been covered by insurers if it had been termed a war.
- The Marlborough Express