Malaya - Borneo - Brunei

 
  • C05 Corporals Les Rogers and Dick Jones Hard at Work Servicing an Auster of 14 Flight at Brunei

    Corporals Les Rogers and Dick Jones hard at work servicing an Auster of 14 Flight at Brunei

  • C06 10 Flight Personnel in a mess tent at Long Pa Sia Borneo in 1964

    10 Flight Personnel in a mess tent at Long Pa Sia, Borneo, in 1964

  • C07 One of the Squadron Scouts on a raised platform at Long Pa Sia

    One of the Squadron Scouts on a raised platform at Long Pa Sia

  • C08 Beaver XP817 Bario Borneo early 1965

    Recovery of Beaver XP817 in Bario, Borneo, in early 1965

  • C081 The Sioux was introduced into Malaysia in 1965

    The Sioux was introduced into Malaysia in 1965

  • Gurkha Rifles Air Platoon Borneo 1966 John Charteris

    The Gurkha Rifles Air Platoon in Borneo, 1966 (John Charteris)

  • 7 Flight pilots at Taiping in September 1961

    7 Flight pilots at Taiping in September 1961

  • M37 Two Austers at Taiping Airfield Malaya

    Two Mark 9 Austers at Taiping, Malaya

  • M38 Auster AOP9 taking off from the airstrip at the Asahan Ranges in Malaya in 1962

    An Auster taking off from the airstrip at the Asahan Ranges in Malaya in 1962

  • 7 Flight pilots at Taiping in September 1961

    An Auster overhauled by Squadron Workshops in Kluang arriving at Kuching in an RAF Beverley

  • M40 members of a 7 Flt Detachment pose with Iban workers at Belaga in Oct 1963

    Members of a 7 Flight detachment pose with Iban workers at Belaga in October 1963

  • M41 Airstrip at Belaga in Nov 1963 note Austers parked in background

    Austers dispersed on Belaga airstrip in November 1963

  • A Scout Landing at Gunong Sepadang in Sarawak, a hilltop rebroadcasting station code named Red 267, close to the Kalimantan border

    A Scout Landing at Gunong Sepadang in Sarawak, a hilltop rebroadcasting station code named Red 267, close to the Kalimantan border

  • Pilots WO2 'Red' Meaton, Sgt Barrie Davies and SSgt Tony Horsey, after taking off from HMS Albion and landing at Sibu in Sarawak, en route to Brunei, January 1964

    Pilots WO2 'Red' Meaton, Sgt Barrie Davies and SSgt Tony Horsey, after taking off from HMS Albion and landing at Sibu in Sarawak, en route to Brunei, January 1964

  • Pilots WO2 'Red' Meaton, Sgt Barrie Davies and SSgt Tony Horsey, after taking off from HMS Albion and landing at Sibu in Sarawak, en route to Brunei, January 1964

    Long Seridan was a typical jungle airstrip not far from Long Pa Sia in Sarawak; this photo was taken from Beaver XP817 in mid-1963

  • M46 Lt John Charteris picks an unusual landing site for his Sioux in Borneo

    Lt John Charteris picks an unusual landing site for his Sioux in Borneo

  • Army Pilots could never resist opportunity to add a carrier landing to their log books; this is HMS Albion

    Army Pilots could never resist an opportunity to add a carrier landing to their log books; this is HMS Albion

  • The Squadron's Scouts and Sioux line up at Paroi ready for its final fly-past in Malaysia on November 17 1969

    The Squadron's Scouts and Sioux line up at Paroi ready for its final fly-past in Malaysia on November 17 1969

 
During 1961 there were many changes in the Malaya Theatre.  28 Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group, 're-roled', reducing time for conventional Warfare and training to 'Airportable Equipment Scales', whilst fulfilling a strategic reserve role for the South-East Asia Treaty Organization.

This change of emphasis particularly involved 7 Reconnaissance Flight, which began to concern itself more with the air movement of its vehicles and stores, combined with the potential requirement, at short notice, to fly in support of 28 Commonwealth Brigade. Just prior to its departure from North Malaya it was involved in the first major airportable exercise – 'Trinity Angel'.

From this point on, all light aircraft tasks in support of 2 Federal Infantry Brigade would be carried out by 2 Reconnaissance Flight, stationed at Ipoh. This Brigade was by then the only military force campaigning against the CTs in the border security area.

The Federation Police Field Force continued to mount operations against couriers and camps in North Malaya, and over the Thai border, in conjunction with the Thai Border Police. Visual and contact reconnaissance flights continued at a much slower pace than before, which was hardly surprising, as there were only an estimated 350 hardcore CTs left.

At Sembawang, 11 Flight supported 99 Gurkha Infantry Brigade Group on Singapore island, its main task being 'Internal Security'. Based at Paroi Camp airstrip, Seremban, 14 Flight remained as 17 Gurkha Division’s Liaison Flight, and with 7 Flight commenced airportable training.

11 and 14 Flights each took delivery of three Beaver DHC-2s in September, whilst retaining three Auster Mk.9s as well.

The Beaver was a tough, high-wing, six seat, monoplane, with a capacity to carry half a ton of freight. It first flew in August 1947, with 1,631 eventually being sold worldwide, including forty-two to the British Army. It was a very reliable, robust aircraft, powered by a 450 hp Pratt and Whitney, engine, having an excellent short take-off capability, and was a joy to fly.

Six pilots were converted initially, also the CO and 2i/c.

16 Flight, which had been reformed earlier in the year to act as a Recce flight, for 48 Gurkha Brigade, was being run down prior to disbandment on 01 April 1962, and re-formation in Aden as one of the four Royal Armoured Corps' manned reconnaissance flights. What remained of the Flight was placed with the Squadron HQ.

Squadron exercises were held on the East coast during the year, with successful deck landings being carried out on HMS Hermes and HMS Bulwark by 11 Flight, and several other pilots from SHQ and other flights.

In conjunction with 2 and 26 Regiments R.A., a number of pilots undertook successful shoots at Asahan Range'. 11 Liaison Flight also conducted many shoots with the Royal Navy. Other various tasks, described as ‘funnies’, included the night illumination by flares of a jungle helicopter LZ for a casualty evacuation by an RN helicopter, dropping mail to the C-in-C Far East Station at sea, and 'flour bag', bombing of a minesweeper flotilla, as well as numerous casualty evacuations.

There was also another close encounter with a large yellow and black striped snake in the cockpit for Captain James Adair of 2 Flight, which hissed at him and slithered about as he banked his Auster, and eventually came to rest somewhere out of sight.

Three major search and rescue operations were carried out in quick succession in October and November. The first was for a Royal Malaysian Air Force Single Pioneer, which crashed in the Bentong Pass area, with the loss of all five on board. They were looking for a party of seventy schoolboys (and one schoolgirl) which were behind schedule on a jungle expedition.

The second incident involved a Canberra B.2 of 75 Squadron RNZAF, which took off on a night cross-country from Tengah to Butterworth in October, the period of the North East monsoons. Of the three aircraft taking part, the first turned back severely damaged by hail and lightning. The next went missing, and the third completed its flight. The missing aircraft flew into a cumulo-nimbus cloud at 40,000 feet, the pilot lost control and, after repeatedly telling his navigator to eject from what he believed to be an inverted spin, ejected himself at 8,000 feet. This was the third occasion on which this pilot had abandoned an aircraft. He walked out of the jungle after a series of lucky escapes. Two days later WO2 Standen of 11 Flight, and his observer, Corporal Goodey, found the wreckage. The navigator’s body was found with the aircraft when the jungle rescue team arrived.

The third and final search was for Captain Peter Hill of 2 Flight, who went missing while on a visual reconnaissance from Ipoh over South Thailand on 22 November 1961. His passenger in Auster AOP Mk. 9, XK374 was Captain O’Grady, of the Royal Army Dental Corps. In spite of an intensive air and ground search lasting seven weeks, no trace of the crew or aircraft was found, until 1967.

The air search was controlled by the RAAF at Butterworth, and, besides 656 Sqn. aircraft, included aircraft from the RAF, RMAF, RAAF and RNZAF. The ground search was carried out by units of the Federation Army and Federation Police, in conjunction with the Thai Frontier Police Force. Only the latter two forces were permitted to search in Thailand.

During 1961 the Squadron flew 9,436 hours in Auster Mk. 9s, and 314 hours in Beaver A.L.1s,

It was also noted that two new pilots, Lieutenants R. Andrews, and C. Brown, of the New Zealand Army, joined the Squadron in December, for continuation and conversion training, before posting to 7 Flight early in 1962.

The major news for the first part of 1962 was very well described in the Squadron’s report for the 'Army Air Corps Journal',

"In the bad old days new arrivals to the Squadron were met by the Flight based in Singapore. They were introduced to the Navy at Sembawang, and gradually filtered to SHQ, thus ensuring that the newcomers were always well indoctrinated with the big city life before going 'up country'. This happens no more, for this year was 'movement year', and there was no longer a 'Singapore flight'.

To the consternation of all, the Squadron not only moved to Kluang, but remained there! Whether this was due to a high sense of  Military discipline, or the advent of the Northeast Monsoons, is hard to say. Nightlife in Kluang certainly had nothing to do with it!

Kluang, for those who knew it, had not changed much. For those who have never been to Malaya, it is a small town in Johore, about 60 miles north of Singapore, and is distinguished in so much as the tourist has the choice of whether he comes to Kluang or not!  The Squadron settled in, backed by that well-known, if slightly hackneyed phrase, a “Get-you-in Service.”

On the 'Bricks and Works' side, amongst other things, was the leaky hangar, and an almost completed new control tower! In fact, they were told that the tower was 'the first permanent building to be erected in Kluang for many years'. The move was not without its humour, the Squadron, having been settled in Mala', for many years in their old locations, endeavoured to bring their treasured belongings, which had reached fantastic proportions, with them. Someone even wanted to bring the pierced steel planking from Noble Field!"