On active service in Sarawak DPR/TV/248

Accession Number F04667
Collection type Film
Measurement 13 min 22 sec
Object type Actuality footage, Television news footage
Physical description 16mm/b&w/silent
Maker Defence Public Relations (DPR)
Place made Borneo: Sarawak
Date made May 1965
Access Open
Conflict Indonesian Confrontation, 1962-1966
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Australian troops on active service in Borneo are coming to grips with some of the toughest jungle country in South East Asia. Moving on foot and by helicopter the troops, members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), patrol from Bau, a remote township near the chain of mountains that mark the Sarawak-Kalimantan border. One of the hazards of patrolling the mountain region is cloud masses that linger in the valleys, often until midday and sometimes throughout the day. For recreation, off duty soldiers swim in a large mountain lake near their headquarters at Bau, or visit Bau township itself which comprises a single main street flanked by coffee shops, general stores, a barber's shop and Chinese run cafes. It is a town which is typical of many to be found in the outback of South East Asia. Despite confrontation, life goes on normally at Bau. Dayak women still wash their clothes at the communal water pipe and exchange the talk of the town. In the rice paddy fields, that flank Bau, these women are at work with primitive hoes tilling the soil from dawn until sunset in the same fashion as their ancestors. On the outskirts of the town, a fortified compound is home for 3rd Battalion which is normally based at Camp Terendak, Malacca, with the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group. In rotation with other infantry units - New Zealand and British - the Australian battalion is now on active service in Borneo. To these men one of the most welcome sights is the regular appearance of Royal Air Force supply transports from Kuching carrying rations, stores and mail for parachuting to the troops at Bau. At Bau, the word has come through from Kuching that the supply aircraft with jet fighter escort is on its way. A 3 RAR soldier climbs to the compound observation tower to send up a flare which guides the aircraft to the supply drop zone cut from the jungle. As the aircraft approaches the Bau dropping zone RAF despatchers prepare to send out the loads on a signal from the pilot. Meanwhile, on the ground the Australian troops are ready to receive the supplies, and follow the progress of the sleek RAF Javelin jet fighter escort as it sweeps past overhead. Assisted by Dayak labourers the troops gather the supplies as they hit the ground and fold the parachutes to be returned to the RAF at Kuching. Under administrative command of the British Army West Brigade while in Sarawak, the 3 RAR is visited by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier W. W. Cheyne, who had flown in to Bau aboard an RAF helicopter from Kuching. After many days patrolling the rugged mountain country that marks the Sarawak-Kalimantan border a 3 RAR patrol returns to base at Bau watched by wide eyed Dayak children. When the patrol commander has checked that weapons are clear of ammunition the patrol relaxes with waiting tea and biscuits and collects mail and newspapers from home. As the patrol relaxes back at Bau, members of 102nd Field Battery, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, carry out daily training with 105 mm pack howitzers, and 3 RAR troops on stand-down from patrol duties test Owen Machine Carbines with an empty can target floating down a jungle stream. The men of the 3 RAR on active service in Sarawak realise that these lightweight weapons are one of their best forms of insurance on jungle patrols and that daily fire training periods ensure that their automatic weapons will not let them down should the need to use them arise. Also identified: Major Ivor Hodgkinson of Perth, W.A. a senior officer with 3 RAR.

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