Artillery and engineers

Australia's commitment to the Malayan Emergency comprised naval and air forces as well as an infantry battalion with supporting arms that included an artillery battery. The 105th Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, equipped with eight 25 pound artillery pieces arrived at Penang in October 1955.

Australian artillery had operated in jungle conditions during the Second World War, but since then had trained mainly for open warfare. Now, facing a jungle-based insurgency, the artillery was in an environment in which the enemy consisted of scattered, small groups of insurgents, often located deep in the jungle and who seldom offered themselves as a target for concentrated fire.

During the early stages of the Australian artillery's involvement in the Emergency, one troop was used to support a British and a Malay battalion while the other supported the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. For the most part the Australian batteries were engaged in providing harassing fire into areas where the communists were thought to be. Sometimes the fire was observed by forward observers or from the air; more often, however, the Australian gunners engaged predicted targets.

Artillerymen also found themselves acting as infantry during the Emergency. On occasions they manned roadblocks, engaged in patrolling, acted as a tactical reserve and performed garrison and security duties.

The battery served in Malaya until October 1957, losing one man – the victim of a road accident. They were replaced by the 100th (A) Battery which performed broadly similar duties, this time in support of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, as well as other British, Gurkha and Malay battalions. By the end of their tour, two members of the battery had lost their lives, one in a vehicle accident.

The 101st Field Battery relieved A Battery in October 1959, less than a year before the Emergency was declared over. Firing in support of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment among other units, the battery also carried out ambush and patrolling tasks.

Engineers

4 Τroop, Royal Australian Engineers, arrived in Malay in the latter part of 1955 and by January 1956 were engaged in road and bridge construction to assist the security forces needing to move into remote areas as well as to assist local economic development. In July the troop were moved to Butterworth to undertake bomb disposal work before moving again, this time to carry out construction work in the Ayer Kring area. The Troop's tour ended after a period of road construction in northern Kedah Province.

The work in northern Kedah was continued by the Troop's successors, 2 Troop. For much of its tour 2 Troop were involved in bridge and road construction. Australian engineers, during their time in Malaya, made a significant contribution to the transport infrastructure in the north of the country.


Last updated: 12 January 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Artillery and engineers, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 15 August 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/malayan-emergency-1948-1960/australians-operations/army-operations/artillery-and-engineers
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