A State of Emergency was declared in Malaya 18 June 1948 following attacks on planters by Malay Chinese Terrorists. The fight was taken to the CTs by seventeen British, Gurkha and Malay battalions which drove the terrorists deeper and deeper into the jungle and away from villages that were made to help them. A campaign of ‘Hearts and Minds’ encouraged the villagers onto the side of the Security Forces.
The 1st Royal Hampshire after training in jungle fighting quickly made their name in many successful contacts with the CTs particularly in the swamps an especially difficult environment. Patrols spent long periods of time in the jungle being supplied by helicopter or parachute drops. The bulk of the men were National Servicemen, most from Hampshire, who spent eighteen months of their two years’ service in this way.
The success of their operations was largely due to the Lt Col Man, the CO, but as in many counter-insurgency operations the hard slog was done by the junior NCOs who led the sections. Helping were the highly skilled Iban trackers from Borneo who guided the hundreds of patrols with an expertise that could not be equalled.
A quote from an unknown soldier of the battalion: ‘The veteran of Malaya is a soldier. Proud of a superb physical fitness, conscious of a real sense of adventure, he has not allowed hardships or discomfort to blunt his alertness. He has dealt with the repulsive leeches, myriads of insects, snakes, and rain and short rations all in his stride. He has lived and slept under the tall canopy of the jungle for long unbroken periods. He has learnt the sounds and the feel of the jungle, so that the brightly-coloured birds, the monkeys and even the insects have a message for him as he tracked his enemy. He has carried and cooked his own food, rinsed his clothes in the clear jungle streams. When the test came and he contacted the enemy he emerged triumphant. Looking back on it, it was a man’s life and it appealed to men’.