Southerners at War
Detecting the enemy in impenetrable jungle was based on gut instinct, Invercargill man Des Weavers says.
|ANZAC 2010, soldiers of South-East Asia
|We remember the forgotten conflicts
|Fighting for recognition: 'The forgotten army'
|Telling their stories: A sense of brotherhood
|Service left a mark: Malaya, Gordon Branks
|Kiwis held in high esteem: Malaysia, Brian Duncan|
|Memories will go to the grave: Malaya, Ken Barton|
|Health problems: Borneo, Neil Hogan|
|A hard slog: Malaya, Rangi Rickard|
|Work hard and play hard: Malaya, Fred Ryan|
|Serving an adventure: Malaya, Colin Rooney|
|Plenty of eyes in the jungle: Malaya, Des Weavers
|Families well looked after: Malaya, Graeme Henderson
|Fancy an overseas trip?: Malaya, Alan Waldron
|Memories of ambush remain: Malaya, Clive Locker
|'Emergency' dragged on for 12 years|
|Not all are allowed to wear their badge of honour|
"It was quite scary – you felt someone was looking at you the whole time.''
But those eyes weren't always just those of the communist terrorists.
Indigenous elephant, tiger, buffalo, rhinoceros, crocodiles, pythons and huge spiders stalked the jungle patrols.
However, the most efficient predator was also one of the stealthiest leeches.
They could attack undetected, Weavers says.
"You wouldn't know they were on you until you saw the blood...you could trek through the jungle and see them coming to you.''
Private Weavers served from 1957 in 1st Battalion New Zealand Regiment as part of D company based initially at Tanah Hitam camp in northern Malaya.
His platoon patrolled jungle in areas suspected of housing CT after an aerial assault by British bombers.
"They bombed different areas where they thought the CT were, then sent us in to see if they had been there...sometimes they were, sometimes they weren't.''
The closest he came to a firefight was in June 1958.
"I was on guard duty and heard all this firing, all hell broke lose around the camp.''
The next morning all was revealed when his company brought back the body of a CT shot during an ambush for identification, he says.
Conversely, New Zealand casualties were few and confined to soldiers that could easily be isolated by the enemy.
"One of our dog handlers got killed.''
He returned home after two years to find most people were ignorant to why he had gone.
"It wasn't in the news.''
- © Fairfax NZ News