HELICOPTERS IN MALAYAACTIVITIES AGAINST TERRORISTSWORK OF N.Z. NAVAL PILOTS
New Zealanders have now joined a squadron of the Fleet Air Arm using helicopters with the Royal Air Force in the fight against terrorists in the jungles of Malaya. Ivan Jamieson, formerly of Cashmere, says in a letter after six weeks of the work, that this co-operation of the two air forces with the Army and the Malayan Federation Police and, particularly, the introduction of helicopters have reduced by years the duration of the struggle to eliminate the terrorists.
“The natural cover of this terrain would provide the terrorists with hideouts for evermore,” he says, “yet somehow we seem to have the upper hand, in that we have driven them deeper into the ulu (jungle), where they are most restricted and handicapped. Ground patrols have gone as close as 100 feet to a terrorist camp and missed it. Once in the ulu any patrol is literally swallowed up.
“The trees are often up to 250 feet. A journey by foot, if practicable, would take weeks, but clearings, scarcely large enough for even a helicopter, have been gouged out of the jungle to bring some of the camps within 30 minutes’ flying time for these ingenious machines. I must admit that going out of these clearings with a load on seems to take an age, as 250 ft of trees is an awful lot when the margin for movement is, say, 10 feet all round.”
The naval squadron’s main role is troop lifting, Lieutenant Jamieson says. In 14 months’ operations it has established a splendid record. With eight naval pilots it now carries an average of 250 troops of all kinds each week. Since the state of emergency was declared, efforts have been made to open up the jungle, and in isolated parts police forts have been established which, because of their remoteness alone, need relieving every six weeks. The men at the forts are maintained, like other troops in the jungle, by the helicopters, and also by supply dropping from the Royal Air Force. The helicopters have been used to take in food, armaments such as mortars, medical requirements, and even tracking Alsatian dogs. Evacuation of Casualties
Casualty evacuation is one of the most satisfying duties, Lieutenant Jamieson says. In about a year, more than 350 casualties have been taken out of the jungle by the squadrons. Many would have died but for the helicopters. Early this month, 30 Ghurkas—“fighters every inch of them”—were flown in to a jungle clearing. Almost as soon as the helicopters returned to base, they received a signal that one of the enemy had been killed and one wounded round that clearing. During the five years of unrest in Malaya, the police have compiled a black list of terrorists, and they can identify almost anyone shot in the jungle and provide a dossier of his movement, says Lieutenant Jamieson. Usually the ground patrols keep one of the surrendered enemy to identify casualties on the spot. Where this is not possible, the bodies of the enemy are brought out by helicopter. The bodies are usually slung in cargo nets below the machine.
The aboriginals in the jungle are becoming more or less civilised through British operations, Lieutenant Jamieson says. One of the functions of the jungle forts is to care for these Sakai. About half of them have British sympathies, and the others are working for the terrorists. A concerted effort is being made to bring friendly natives out of the jungle and settle them round the forts. They still use blowpipes for hunting, with barrels as perfect as rifles. A blow-pipe shoots its poisoned darts so forcefully that it is reputed to stop a tiger in his tracks.
Lieutenant Jamieson flew from Britain in January to join the squadron with Lieutenant George Cronin, of Nelson, and they were met by another New Zealander in the same unit, Lieutenant Geoffrey Dixon, of Otago.
PRESS, 26 MARCH 1954