Jungle survival course Malaysia DPR/TV/1486

Accession Number F04547
Collection type Film
Measurement 10 min 55 sec
Object type Actuality footage, Television news footage
Physical description 16mm/b&w/silent
Place made Malaya
Date made 1972
Access Open
Conflict Period 1970-1979
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Eight Australians recently spent more than a week in the Malaysian jungle, learning to live off the land. Soldiers of the Singapore-based ANZUK Base Transport Unit made the most of the last meal before the course began. Crewcut Private Robert Wright of the Sydney suburb of Doonside, NSW, and Private Graeme Toll of Minyip, Vic, were two Diggers who attended the course. After the meal the soldiers were stripped, weighed and issued with distinctive black uniforms, a water bottle, fishing line and hooks, and a jungle knife. These were to be their only possessions for the next eight days. Sergeant Fred Chapman of Taree, NSW, another volunteer for the course, looked a little apprehensive as he swapped his familiar jungle green uniform for the course's black one. The 60-mile truck-ride took the soldiers from their Singapore base to Johore State, in Malaysia, at a point on the east coast where the thick jungle made an ideal setting for the course. The troops had to live off the land for the entire eight days. Before being allocated their areas in the jungle, the soldiers were briefed on what to expect. The area teems with wild life including mouse-deer, wild pig, monkey, snakes, and according to local inhabitants, the occasional tiger. Instructor, Warrant Officer Gary Cole of Windsor, NSW (with waxed moustache) gave the soldiers a quick lesson on how to make life bearable in the jungle. Then it was into the steamy bush for a first-hand taste of nature. Sergeant Chapman was one of the first in to have a look at his temporary new home. The following day it was a sore and hungry bunch of soldiers who attended the first jungle lecture, which told them where they had gone wrong, and where and how to obtain food and water supplies. They were shown a spiral plant which bears an edible, though rather tasteless fruit, and shown areas where jungle mushrooms grew in abundance. Coconuts and green bananas were also to be found at the jungle edge. Then with their hunger partly satisfied, instructors set about showing the soldiers how to erect adequate shelters, using only what materials they could find in the jungle. Elephant leaves were folded into strips for overhead cover, bamboo cut for supports and the entire structure secured with strips of stringy bark and jungle vines. Corporal Manny Van Rijswijk (pronounced Ridge-swick) found he quickly developed the knack of using creeper and vine in place of rope and string. He was assisted in his efforts by Corporal Phillip Edwards of Forster, NSW, who cut the uprights for the shelter. Another form of cover the soldiers were shown was the folding of thin palm leaves between split sections of green timber. This is known as attap, and is commonly used throughout Malaysia for house construction. With somewhere to rest, it was again time to think of food and the sea was harvested by the still-hungry soldiers. An oyster-clad rock was stripped bare, and several soldiers had luck when they tried their hands at fishing. Another lesson for the survival students was in the art of manufacturing cooking impleents from bamboo. Boiling pots, steaming vessels, and eating utensils were fashioned from the bamboo. Private David Earle, of the Brisbane suburb of Mount Gravatt, Qld, experienced little difficulty when he set about making some cooking gear. Lighting fires proved to be simpler than expected and it was not long before the soldiers welded the lessons taught into a satisfactory meal, cooked on the beach. While some soldiers enjoyed their first hot meal in days, others such as Sergeant Chapman and Corporal Edwards, had developed quite a taste for jungle berries. Quite obviously, the hunger experienced in the first days of the course was not to be repeated by the now jungle-educated soldiers. For soldiers of the Singapore-based ANZUK Base Transport Unit, learning to live off the land has added a new and important skill to their military training, and given them greater self confidence.

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