Army operations

The Australian Army was involved in the Malayan Emergency from 1955, and Australian soldiers remained in the region until 1963, three years after the conflict's official end. The 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) arrived in Malaya in October 1955. Stationed initially on Penang Island, the battalion crossed to the mainland on 1 January 1956 to begin operations as part of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade. The battalion mainly operated in the northern areas of Kedah and Perak, which had been centres of guerrilla activity. Although there were few contacts with the guerrillas when the battalion patrolled these areas, heavy fighting took place in June 1956 during the Pipeline Ambush, in which three Australians were killed.

The 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) replaced 2 RAR in October 1957. After training at Johore in southern Malaya, 3 RAR began patrolling operations in Perak and Kedah. These operations were mainly intended to cut the guerrillas off from their food supplies. The battalion's patrolling resulted in two notable successes: in July 1958, acting on information received from a surrendered communist, members of the battalion destroyed several local guerrilla camps; and on 20 November 1958 another camp was attacked. One of the guerrillas killed in the latter operation was found to have taken part in the infamous assassination of the British High Commissioner in 1951. The clearest indication of the battalion's success came in April 1959 when the British announced that the state of Perak was secure.

The 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) replaced 3 RAR in October 1959. On its tour of duty 1 RAR conducted patrols in northern Malaya, sometimes crossing the border into Thailand in order to follow communist guerrillas and drive them back into Malaya. The battalion's tour continued after the Emergency was declared over on 31 July 1960. Replacing 1 RAR, 2 RAR returned for a second tour of duty in October 1961 and carried out patrols in Perlis and Kedah. Elements of 2 RAR also took part in SEATO exercises in Thailand. The Australian Army's involvement in Malaya ended when 2 RAR returned to Australia in August 1963.

Last updated: 10 March 2020

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2020), Army operations, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 3 October 2023,
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