THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY
In 1948 the Regiment was affiliated to the Rifle Brigade, an affiliation which was changed in 1969 to one with the Royal Green Jackets.
On its arrival in Malaya from Burma in January 1948 the Battalion moved to Sungei Patani. Training at Sungei Patani also involved the training of the Regiment’s recruits for which purpose a Training Wing was established.
In June 1948 the Battalion was first deployed on operations against the Communist Terrorists (CTs) who were attempting to overthrow the Governments of Malaya and Singapore, both still British colonies. By 1950 the Battalion had killed 35 enemy and captured and 23. In July 1950 it moved to Bahau from where operations continued unabated. The families remained in Sungei Patani. In January 1951 Support Company was formed and at this time Captain Pahalman Gurung retired. He was enlisted in the Regiment in 1919. Also in 1951 Lt Col W C Walker took over command of the Battalion; he would go on to become Major General Brigade of Gurkhas, GOC 17 Gurkha Division and eventually Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Northern Europe. Field Marshal Sir John Harding was appointed Colonel of the Regiment in succession to Lord Birdwood who had died in May 1951.
In October 1951 the Battalion returned to Sungei Patani for two months and then moved to a new operational area based on Muar. October saw the first two post-war Sandhurst commissioned officers join the Battalion; 2Lt C J Scott and D J Walsh. The fathers of both these officers had served in the Regiment.
In April 1952 the Battalion began operations in the Kuala Kangsar and Taiping areas. In September 1952, 17 Gurkha Division came into being, thereby perpetuating the number and traditions of the old 17 Indian Division (the Black Cat Division). The Regiment was to spend much of the next 13 years as part of this formation. The Battalion concentrated for Christmas 1952 having just returned from 48 days on operations in the jungle with all resupply being by airdrop. In July 1953 the whole Battalion, including families, moved to Ipoh. During a dawn assault on a bandit camp a few weeks later, the Battalion managed to kill four high-ranking members of the Malaysian Peoples’ Liberation Army. By 1955 the Battalion had accounted for 200 enemy killed.
Before the Second World War it had been the practice for the Monarch to be attended by four Indian Army Orderly Officers during state functions. These Orderly Officers were found from all the regiments and corps in the Indian Army. This Practice was discontinued at the outbreak of the Second World War, but in 1954 Her Majesty the Queen reinstated it, commanding that she be attended by two Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers on state occasions. One of the first two officers selected for this appointment was Captain (QGO) Lalbahadur Thapa of the 1st Battalion.
In April 1957 the Battalion moved to the New Territories of Hong Kong and took over Tam Mei Lines. The various duties and competitions in 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade provided a welcome change from nine years of jungle operations.
In January 1959 Her Majesty the Queen honoured the Regiment by authorising it become the 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles. As a result of the Regiment’s change in name Major I C Brebner composed a new regimental pipe march, ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Own’ which replaced ‘All the Blue Bonnets are over the Border’. ‘The Young May Moon’ remained the regimental march for military bands.
In April 1959 the Battalion returned to Malaya and was stationed at Kluang. In June a party of serving and retired officers and men of the Regiment was received by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace to mark the granting of the Royal Title.
May and June 1960 were spent on exercise in British North Borneo (now known as Sabah) and in August that year Battalion provided a contingent for the victory parade in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the end of the Malayan Emergency.
In January 1948 at New Delhi, 8 British Officers, 3 Gurkha Officers and 113 Other Ranks joined the British Army and became the nucleus of the 2nd Battalion. At an attestation parade the Battalion was sworn into British service.
Having received a draft of 180 recruits the Battalion moved by sea to Malaya in March 1948 and was stationed in Kuala Lumpur from where it carried out anti-CT operations for the next nine months. It was moved to Hong Kong in December. It was based in San Wai Camp (later known as Gallipoli Lines) but the families lived in Kowloon, there being no quarters for them in the New Territories.
Whilst the Battalion trained hard during the next few months the Hong Kong garrison was increased from a Brigade to a full Division to deal with expected trouble from China (the struggle for supremacy between the Communists and the Nationalists was at its peak). By August 1949 the Battalion’s strength had reached 1,000 men.
In late 1950 the Battalion moved back to Malaya and was soon heavily engaged in operations, this time in the Kluang area. By September 1951 it had accounted for 59 CTs killed and 36 captured. Behind these bare figures lies the story of many weary hours spent struggling through swamp and jungle in search of the enemy.
The Regiment was represented by detachments from both Battalions at the Coronation celebrations in London in June 1953. In April 1953 the 2nd Battalion assumed responsibility for operations in the Segamat area where in one week in January 1954 17 CTs were encountered and 15 killed. By the end of the year the Battalion had killed more CTs in 1954 than any other unit in Malaya and had also found the biggest CT arms dump of the campaign. The largest weapon, a Japanese medium machine gun, is now displayed by the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
The Battalion moved to Seremban in early 1953 and after a period of retraining was once more fully involved in anti-CT operations. In March 1957, for the first time since leaving India, it moved into a proper modern barracks when it relieved the 1st Battalion at Ipoh. Operations against the CTs continued. In 1960 contingents took part in the Victory parades in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur which brought to a close a campaign in which the Brigade of Gurkhas had earned an outstanding reputation as jungle fighters. The Regiment gained the following decorations during the Malayan Emergency:
|4 DSOs||8 DCMs|
|5 OBEs||26 MMs|
|17 MBEs||2 BEMs|