Veterans honoured for Malayan campaign

By John Maslin of the Wanganui Chronicle -
Orri Haddon of Wanganui was a raw-boned infantryman when he arrived in Malaya in 1961. Photo / Stuart Munro
Orri Haddon of Wanganui was a raw-boned infantryman when he arrived in Malaya in 1961. Photo / Stuart Munro

It is classified as a "small war" and like a lot of other conflicts pushed into the background, the Malaysian campaign from 1949 through to 1966, has largely been ignored.

But now, after years of battling to get some recognition, the surviving veterans will have their moment in the sun with an official parade in Wellington next month.

One of those taking part will be Orri Haddon of Wanganui. The 72-year-old was a raw-boned infantryman when he arrived in Malaya in 1961.

Mr Haddon said that by the time he was posted there, much of the conflict was at an end but the fight against communist insurgents across the Malayan Peninsular and into Borneo had lasted nearly 20 years from 1949 and involved Kiwi troops fighting alongside forces from the UK, Australia and Fiji.

He and a number of other Wanganui vets will join others from around the country taking part in the inaugural Malayan Veterans' Day parade in Wellington recognising their service and contribution to peace in Southeast Asia.

The commemorations will begin with a wreath laying under the Malaya plaque in the National War Memorial Hall of Memories, Buckle St, just after 11am on September 16 before a parade on Parliament grounds and service and reception in Parliament's Great Hall.

Governor General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will attend as will Government and Opposition representatives, diplomats, military chiefs and RNZRSA representatives.

"We've been trying to get this for a long while now," Mr Haddon said, remembering how he and his mates carried out border operations between Thailand and Malaya.

"We didn't get involved in any fire fights but we picked up a few insurgents. I only got into that sort of trouble when we were posted to Vietnam."

Mr Haddon and at least four other Wanganui veterans have registered.

"We're just going down on the day and coming home after the reception. I'm the driver because I'm the non-drinker," he said.

REMEMBERING

* More than 30,000 Kiwi sailors, soldiers and airmen, operating under higher British command, fought communist guerrillas, participated in armed border security patrolling and fought Soekarno's military in the Malayan Peninsular and Borneo for almost 20 years from 1949.

* RNZ Navy ships bombarded known or suspected communist guerrilla encampments and during "confrontation" patrolled the Malacca Straits

* Kiwi SAS and infantry soldiers pursued and harassed the guerrillas in extensive jungle operations

* Kiwi airmen flew De Havilland Venoms and English Canberras on missions against guerrilla locations while RNZAF Bristol Freighter aircraft flew resupply missions

* The campaign came with a cost - 55 dead of combat injuries, operational accidents, disease and accidents - but has largely gone forgotten and overshadowed by Korea and then Vietnam wars

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