Serving in Malaya an adventure

21:51, Apr 22 2012
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
Despite its innocuous appearance Happy Land was one about 140 brothels that lined the 24km stretch from Terendak Camp to Malacca in Malaya.
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
Private Colin Rooney (left) and mates scan letters from home in their barracks.
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
Members of Colin Rooney's battalion have a sing-a-long in barracks.
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
Private Colin Rooney poses in front of a British Bedford army vehicle in Malaya.
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
"Aussie'' Wilson, a member of Invercargill man Colin Rooney's platoon, poses with artillery shells. "He was an Australian transplanted here who joined the New Zealand army,'' Rooney says.
Southland Times photo supplied by Colin Rooney
Private Colin Rooney.
Southland Times photo
Colin Rooney holds his medals.

Where soldiers go, women always follow.

About 140 brothels lined the 24km from Terendak Camp to Malacca, according to an Invercargill veteran.

Being fair to Colin Rooney, at no point does he admit visiting the establishments, but he says plenty did ... repeatedly.

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Brothel creeping on R and R (rest and recreation) was a fact in Malaya, he says.

A private with 1st Royal Battalion New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Rooney left with 1203 other men in 1963.

For him it was an adventure. "I was pretty excited being a young fella, it was about meeting mates ... that was the big thing for me.''

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They had plenty to bond over, a medic in B company, his platoon patrolled the Thai border looking for communist terrorists ... or their remains.

"B company was involved in bring those (communist terrorists) killed out of the jungle for identification.''

Dead were trussed to poles to be carried out it could take days, the soldiers had had to march deep into the jungle to engage CT, in the heat the task quickly became unpleasant.

When Indonesian President Sukarno decided to crush the new Malaysia, his company shifted back into the centre of the country to focus on Sukarno's paratroopers.

Like CT, they proved elusive.

"You could go out on patrols and not see anything, you might come across locals doing their thing ... it was unnerving, you didn't know why they were there or who they were.'' In 1965 he transferred to Borneo, firstly with B company before being shuffled into C company.

"I got into a bit of a scrap and they thought it was a better place to put me.''

The Southland Times