Work hard and play hard

21:52, Apr 22 2012
Southland Times photo
Fred Ryan with some of the photos he amassed from his time in Malaya.
Southland Times photo
Fred Ryan looks over the photos he amassed from his time in Malaya.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Private Fred Ryan and cobber in the Malayan jungle.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
The T Rex theatre in Ipoh.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
The Majestic Theatre in Ipoh.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
The Capitol Theatre in Ipoh.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Private Fred Ryan and a fellow platoon member attempt to dry laundry in the Malayan jungle.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Gordon Branks poses with a puppy adopted by his company as a mascot.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Fred Ryan stalks around his barracks in Ipoh.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Kiwi soldiers prepare to release a balloon to signal supply choppers.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Kiwi soldiers at a beach camp. The soldiers were required to spent two days in these camps after coming back from the jungle before being allowed to go on leave.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
The D company swimming team poses with a trophy won after beating the others in a competition. Fred Ryan is pictured in the back row second from right.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Fred Ryan (left) and mates enjoy a beer in the battalion's NAAFI in Ipoh. "Obviously that was taken early on,'' he says.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Gordon Branks carries his platoon's stocks of booze into the jungle.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Fred Ryan (left), Gordon Branks (centre) and another mate superimposed on a Malayan banknote.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
(From left) Rex Maraki, Gordon Branks, Don Murray and Fred Ryan are feeling the effects of a heavy night on R and R.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
A captured python lies on a Malayan street, having gorged itself on a pig.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
A photo from Fred Ryan's album.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
A snake charmer performs on the street, Fred Ryan (left) looks on.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
New Zealand soldiers take a rest stop in the Malayan jungle.
Southland Times photo supplied by Fred Ryan
Fred Ryan plays with pistols.

Distance in the Malayan jungle was measured in yards, not miles, Bluff veteran Fred Ryan says.

"If you did 100 yards in a day you did well.''

Despite his platoon's efforts to gain ground on their targets, the 1st New Zealand Regiment D company private admits to never finding communist terrorists (CT).

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Not that they weren't there, Ryan says.

In impenetrable jungle, there were plenty of places to hide.

"They used to dig holes and pull a leaf or something over as a lid like trapdoor spiders.'' After spending a month hunting the CT on patrol, troops had spend a couple of days at Lumut Beach camp, to rest and be checked for illnesses before they could go on leave, he says.

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One leave story involves a good mate – and tattoos – and Ryan's version is as amusing as Gordon Branks' take on the same incident.

"It was a bet with a guy in the navy, I was dressed as a sailor ... I fell in the door of the tattoo shop pissed and the wee Chinaman couldn't roll me over, so he put it on my back.''

Posing as navy caused problems when he was recognised and questioned but somehow he managed to talk his way out of it. "That fella swore I had a dead-ringer.''

A lasting memory, backed by veterans from throughout the conflict, is jumping off personnel vehicles to avoid ambush by communist terrorists.

This was done at 50kmh meaning to anyone listening, the vehicles passing by did not give the impression of having stopped or even slowed.

What was good for drivers could be hair-raising for soldiers who, if they landed wrong, could be left cartwheeling in gravel, he says.

The Southland Times