3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment

In 1945 Australia sent three units to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). Originally known as the 65th, 66th and 67th Infantry Battalions, they were raised from Australian divisions stationed in New Guinea at the end of the Second World War. On 23 November 1948, the battalions were renamed the First, Second and Third Battalion, The Australian Regiment, respectively. The prefix “Royal” was granted by King George VI on 31 March 1949.

The Australian battalions sent to the Malayan Emergency formed part of the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group (CIBG). CIBG was part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR). FESR comprised British, Australian, New Zealand and Malayan troops. Australian officers commanded the Australian battalions in Malaya, although operations were part of a larger strategy, requiring co-operation between the FESR units. Efforts were directed against the Communist terrorists.

3RAR arrived in Malaya in September 1957. While in Malaya, the battalion was stationed at Minden Barracks, in the foothills on the eastern side of the island. Although Minden was the nominal home of the battalion while it was in Malaya, it rarely spent any length of time there. Operations through the jungle lasted for days or even weeks at a time, and breaks between operations were brief. During its service in Malaya, the battalion operated with three rifle companies, instead of the usual four.

The battalion trained at Kota Tinggi throughout October and November. It began operations on 1 December, joining Operation Shark North. Shark North was a search and security mission that aimed to destroy the communist influence in the Kuala Kangsar and Upper Perak districts. The operation had begun in May 1956.

In January 1958, the battalion joined Operation Ginger. Ginger aimed to disrupt food supply by searching the areas between terrorist bases and food stores. Ginger was waged across an estimated area of 3,100 square kilometers, searching for approximately 170 terrorists and 24 hostile native inhabitants. The majority of the work involved tracking, searches and setting ambushes. It was monotonous and frustrating work that rarely yielded measurable results. It was not uncommon for rain to wipe out tracks that had been followed for over a week, or for the terrorists to cross the Thai border, where the battalion was unable to pursue them. Operation Ginger was ultimately a success, and when it ended on 21 April 1959, Perak was declared a safe area.

In addition to participation in anti-terrorist operations, the battalion took part in “major war training” throughout March-September. 3RAR was withdrawn from operations on 12 September, departing for Australia on 5 October.

Glossary

Casualties

  • 4 killed, 14 wounded

For more information please see the Roll of Honour database.

Decorations

  • 2 MBE
  • 10 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

Collection Items

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References

  • Colin Bannister, An inch of bravery: 3RAR in the Malayan Emergency, 1957 - 59, (Canberra: Directorate of Public Affairs, 1994)
  • Peter Dennis and Jeffrey Grey, Emergency and Confrontation: Australian military operations in Malaya and Borneo 1959 - 66, (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 1996)
  • David Horner (ed.), Duty first: the Royal Australian Regiment in war and peace, (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990)
  • Neil C. Smith, Mostly Unsung: Australia and the COmmonwealth in the Malayan emergency, 1948 - 1960, (Melbourne: N.C. Smith, 1989)