Southerners at War
Brian Duncan says he never realised the esteem held for Kiwi soldiers in Malaysia until he returned to the South-East Asian nation three years ago.
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The Invercargill man and wife Linda went back in 2007 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Malayan independence.
"They treated us like returning heroes until then I was unaware what they thought of us xx--xx so many thank yous.''
Forty-four years earlier, Duncan followed two brothers-in-law to Malaya, one who had served in the original SAS, the other had been part of the first battalion.
In 1963 it was his turn, going in November into Malaya with the 1st Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment. The name would change to 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment "just as President Kennedy got shot'', he says.
"We were the last to go into Malaya as a battalion, after that it was reinforcements.''
The D company private was stationed in Terendak, outside of Malacca, with most of his and his platoon's service concentrated around the Thai border chasing communist terrorists.
"We caught quite a few too.'' It was here he fired his first shots when confronted by a man trying to sneak into the camp.
"I spoke to him in Malay and he ignored me ... it turned out he did the laundry for us and was sneaking back in without a pass ... I got in trouble for missing him.''
In 1964, conflict in the region escalated, he says.
Indonesia would not recognise the new Malaysia and dropped paratroopers on the Malay peninsula and into Borneo.
Mundane jungle patrols punctuated with the odd contact with communist terrorists (known as CT), became more intense jungle warfare on operations against the Indonesians.
- © Fairfax NZ News