Dear Fellow Infantrymen,

A major issue for some time now has been the recognition of service at Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) as “War Like” service. This has been an ongoing issue since 2006 with a small group, RCB Review Group and some individuals fighting to get the proper recognition.

I know some senior officers (mainly from ones that did not serve in RCB) think it was a bit of a jolly and not comparable to their war, Vietnam. We do not make the rules and regulations on the “War Like” situation, but following obtaining some SECRET AUSTEO documentation, it was quite clear RCB was deployed to protect Australian assets in Malaysia against a Communist Terrorist threat. They decided to hide the facts of the deployment under a ruse of calling it a “training activity”.

This training ruse is still accepted by Defence and DHAAT despite much evidence from Senior Defence Officials and Officers, which state otherwise.

Quite clearly Defence and Government officials do not want another 9000 veterans getting access to Repatriation Benefits or publicly acknowledging their deceptive behavior in 1973.

What can we do? We have been working through the normal administrative chain with no successful result. Defence continues with its well-known stonewalling approach to these things by acknowledging your communications, never discussing the content and finally not answering letters or returning phone calls.

The DHAAT approach was totally flawed by receiving coloured evidence from Defence and not even acknowledging evidence provided by the RCB Group, to come up with their desired result.

Where to now? Now we have to take to the legal approach with appeals to the Defence and Commonwealth Ombudsman. Take the case to the Court of Public Opinion with a feature article planned for publication in The Australian. Take the case to sympathetic journalists like Alan Jones and the Bolt Report. They all love stories about Defence’s continuing deceptive behavior. Next all ex members write to your Liberal members or candidates requesting assistance in solving the problem. If you wish write to your Labor member or candidate or the current Minister responsible Senator Feeney who has only just started to talk to us.

The last legal avenue open is to appeal to the Federal Court but with Defence’s legal firepower and prior history of financially persecuting unsuccessful claimants most of us do not want to loose our house or super, so this is an unlikely approach.

How can you help firstly if you have evidence supported by documents or a statutory declaration please send it to Mike Dennis at [email protected] or if you wish to add your name to the RCB Review Supporters Group please send your details to Robert Cross at [email protected]

Attached to this portal are the following submissions, letters and evidence provided by the RCB Supporters Group. We have the support of the RARC, which we appreciate, but only those who made submissions can take the next step under law.

Duty First

LtCol Mike Dennis, MBE

RCB 1977

Chronology of Events

1. 1970 – 1989 Service of RCB in Malaysia

2. 18 Aug 2006 RCB Review Group Submission to Defence Honours and Awards Directorate, DOD (Plus 2.5 inch dossier of attached written evidence).

3. 25 May 2010 LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) submission to Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service.

4. 10 Jun 2010 RCB Review Group Submission of 2006 to Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service (Plus a 2.5 inch dossier of attached written evidence). (Same as Serial 2)

5. 10 Jun 2010 RCB Review Group Addendum Submission to

Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal Inquiry into RCB service.

6. 18 Feb 2011 Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal Report into the Inquiry for Members of Rifle Company Butterworth for Service in Malaysia between 1970 and 1989.

7. 7 Jun 2011 Successful FOI request for Defence Submission to the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal VCDF/OUT/2010 dated 23 Jun 2010.

8. 14 Aug 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to the VCDF and Director Defence Honours and Awards Directorate, DOD highlighting the flaws in the Defence Submission.

9. 25 Aug 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to the Acting Chair Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal on the flaws and inconsistencies in the RCB Service Inquiry Report.

10. 6 Sep 2011 Letter From Director Honours and Awards DOD on behalf of the CDF with a non descript negative answer and not addressing any of the issues I raised.

11.  18 Sep 2011 Letter from the Acting Chair Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal acknowledging my letter and referring it to the new Chairman DHAAT. (No further response received)

12. 30 Sep 2011 Letter from LtCol M Dennis, MBE (Rtd) to Director Honours and Awards DOD on behalf of CDF response questioning and requiring simple Yes/No answers to his response on behalf CDF. No response or returned telephone calls!


  1. Greg McMahon says

    I made a statement to the Tribunal but only sent it as as an email.
    I have since rewritten it in the form of a sworn affidavit, to whom do I sent it to be assessed by
    the RCB committee whether or not it will support their case?
    I can send it in an email attachment or post it?
    Ex RAAF Police Cpl

  2. Bill Marklew says

    I find it remarkable that any Government of the day can make the rules as to what is defined as “war like” and what isn’t “war like” then changing that definition by stealth by saying that in this case it was “training”. I believe that this change of definition is because it wouldn’t have been politically smart to be seen as sending troops back into an Asian hotpot while our troops returning from Vietnam was still fresh in the minds of the Australian public.

    The rules of engagement were pretty clear and the briefings received before embarkation and on arrival were also pretty clear, troops were authorised to repond with lethal force if the situation or threat demanded. The OC’s were given powers under the Defence Act to cover the deployment of these troops.

    This isn’t about who’s conflict was a “real” fight and who’s wasn’t, it’s about what was on the statutes of the day in relation overseas deployment and to what the duties and expectations were in regards to the situation in Malaysia at that time. This is regardless of whether that threat was realized or not


  3. Butch Mathew says

    Typical of the Australian Government, always there to wave you off
    But never there, when you need on you RTA and afterwards
    Butch Mathew

  4. I had two tours of RCB in 1973 and 1978. Both with 6 RAR. If any statements are required to back this up, please advise me and I will do what I can. In the meantime, I can say the following: When posted to RCB for the three months, were were advised that we were on War service and that our role were to guard the assets against Communist insurgents that were still operating in Malaysia. In addition our Rules of engagement were such that if we fired upon any found within the complex, we were to ensure that the rounds penetrated the body and no go through the outer perimeter wire. we all laughed at this as we all knew the penetrating power of the 7.62 mm round. Daily patrolling of the perimeter including a quick reaction force was always on the go along with a guard room of soldiers to take on any eventuality. Suffice to say, to the best of my knowledge, any deaths that occurred were as a result of accidents that occurred outside the perimeter and in the sprawl of the civilian quarter. Our postings were never considered a training ground nor at any stage was it considered an easy posting by any means. It was hard work and I am led to believe that there are many similarities to that of postings to the Solomon Islands, Iraq and East Timor. As the Vietnam era drew to a close, so did our commitment to Malaysia and South East Asia. Australian RAAF personnel and their families were there in droves and in fact I was able to catch up with an old primary school chum (Hans Messerschmidt) who had enlisted with the RAAF. There is probably more, but I hope that this helps in somewhat to right an overlooked anomaly. Regards Peter Adamis

    • vin cronin says

      just read some of the words of old mates how true but please tell me will it get us anywere please let me know if i can help i dodnt like computers too well but when i read old grunts stories it brings back memories if theres anyone in the west i would like to contact them 1973 we were the first to do our 3 months from aus

      • Hi Vin
        My dad also severed with you guys who first left from Australia out of Brisbane. Love to get into contact with yourself and other’s who went on that first tour.

      • Hans Graetz says

        G’day Vin, I remember you, you were with 3 pl A Coy, you were from 9 RAR your Pl Comd was Bubbles Wilson an incident at the pool I remember. Pl Sgt bookies best mate, one each way Ross Kenny. I was in 2 Pl 8 RAR until the 31 Oct and then we were in 8/9
        Still serving still living the dream.

    • Mark Stewart says

      Peter Adamis I was with 8/9 RAR in 78 when we replaced you guys from 6 RAR, do you remember were we came from as we had been in country for a month. We came down from Alor Star, after being attached to the 9th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment, we were told we were going on war service, and then they decide to change it later. Typical politian’s changing the goal posts to suit themselves.

    • Ronald Moran says

      I also served at Butterworth with the 2nd 4th battalion in 1983. We were paid combat wages and instructed that any infractions would be dealt with under combat discipline.

  5. Stan Hannaford says

    Yes Mike totally agree with your comments RCB Supporters Intro.
    Lets face it,it wasn’t the fashion to have Australian Infantry soldiers deployed anywhere in SE Asia after Whitlam won the election on a promise to withdraw troops from South Vietnam.

    However I feel we the RCB were thrown to the wolves, not only by the Labour govt but also our own defence dept,our battalion and company commander were in the dark as to the real role of the RCB,we now know the RCB was deployed on active service with rules of engagement as a ready reaction force to protect Australian assets at Butterworth airbase against Communist Insurgents,also in their own words “an expandable force” if the need had arisen.

    We have since found out Malaysia was in the throws of a second emergency,with the resurgence of the CMP revolution (1968-1989),even the old hard core RAR soldiers now agree on this topic,where once their response was “what ?? second emergency,there was only one”.

    At no time was our section(commanded by a Malay/Borneo/Vietnam veteran) under the impression that this was a training exercise as the powers called it. We were there to do a job and our area of operations was the Butterworth airbase.

    It was through good luck more than good management that one of the RCB’s weren’t hit resulting in heavy casualties

    During my tour in 1974-75 there was CT activity in close proximity to the airbase,This I feel was spurred on by the imminent fall of Siagon.
    I actually witnessed a cordon and search by the MAF on a kampong just north of the perimeter,resulting in a CT section being taken out. I have provided a Stat Dec with full details.

    To me the whole thing revolves around the govt and defence departments not wanting to admit the real reason for the RCB also the mighty dollar.

    Like a good pig-dog we must get them by the lug and hang on,we will win.

    We are not the first “forgotten diggers”,but hopefully we will be the last.

  6. Col Bishop says

    I do not believe service in East Timor in 1999/2000, other than the first 30 days, should be relevant to the AASM, let alone RCB. – I felt ashamed getting an ASM!
    They even issued the ICB for East Timot- go figure?
    We are f##king up the whole system because someone wants a gong – earn the bloody thing!

    Col Bishop

    • We got the ICB in East Timor in 2000 because we spent 3 months in a warlike operation.
      That means we got shot at and yes I did in East Timor in 2000.
      I think everyone I was with on my tour with 6 RAR deserved theICB.

    • You seem very gutless not want your fellow soldier’s men and women of the defence force to be validated for the service they did or do. “Earn it you say”!! What a devourer of men, you should not even call yourself a soldier let alone an officer.
      it is earned, One gives service to our country when they enlist don’t you remember your pelage to the Queen and the commonwealth of Australia well you should go back and read it when I was posted to RCB I was badly shot nearly died from blood loss in the jungle my LT got 3 of his fingers blown off from grenades but we don’t even get the Australian service medal Because we didn’t do the right kind of service to AUSTRALIA “a wholly reprehensible disgrace” and so are you, GO and Hand your medals back to the Governor-general since your so humiliated of the army and Australia.
      “Saluting Their Service” They honor nothing

    • Chris Langdon says

      Of Course , you would be a Officer in the defence force, never ever tell a soldier to earn a Medal. That is a cop out, you do not need to serve the same time as a soldier overseas to earn your medal. So on that note do note point the finger, gutless and disrespectful. We were put there away from our families for over 90 days, ready to go, training and to provides security to the base, even in 1997. Not our choice , so show some honour.

  7. Craig Ellery says

    Fact: Malaysia was regarded to be at war with the CTs, hence the period being known as the ‘Communist Insurgency War’ or the ‘Second Malayan Emergency’.
    Fact: Rules of engagement were issued to RCB deployments.
    Fact: The majority of RCB personnel were ‘warned for whilst on war service’.
    Fact: RCB personnel carried ‘live’ ammunition whilst patrolling the environs of Butterworth Airbase. It is of little consequence that no shot was ever fired in anger. There is irrefutable proof that an immediate threat existed and Australian soldiers were deployed to counter that threat, if it became real. The fact that the government at the time didn’t cross the t’s or dot the i’s with regard to ‘warlike’ service only illustrates that the fault lies with that government and subsequent governments and not with the military personnel who did all that was required of them. RCB service is comparable with most of the counter-insurgency, small wars since WWII. Anyway, it’s all in the submissions and has been talked about before.

    However, I am amazed at how we have had to go, literally ‘cap in hand’ to seek an entitlement that most other countries automatically award to their service personnel. The medal itself is hardly worth anything and the amount of people who will apply for the medal will be small, if the ADM is anything to go by; it was thought that millions would apply for that medal and so far it has only been around 300,000+. The money is out there for this and subsequent DVA entitlements if former members meet the criteria. It is okay for Gillard and Co to give themselves a fat pay rise but it seems incredible to recognise a number of people with a $20+ gong! At the end of the day, it is only a service/campaign medal.

    • Peter martin says

      Hi Craig I was with A Coy 8/9 rar
      We went to RCB July to Sept 1973 after training at canungra
      I remember the coy being briefed at the old picture theatre on base at ennogera with MP,s outside
      We were warned out for Active Service
      Later on same happened again and it was updated to War service
      At RCB whilst patrolling the base we carried mags with live rounds in ammo box
      We also had a code for our radio Green (normal) amber (mag on)
      And red (rifle cocked) even remember
      Code for Red (panther) as it happened one night whilst I was with my section on patrol
      The Malaysian Rangers ambushed some CTS north of RCB & found docs they were on way to mortar RCB Nothing happened But you have to think
      Also our rules of engagement were made quiet clear to all
      Example Got told if shot at shoot to kill Also if CT on perimeter fence 7 you shoot him & he fall,s off to outside you go over fence & throw his body back over otherwise Malay Government could charge you with murder?
      I personally am happy with my ASM but the fact remains that we were officially warned out for War service by very high ranking officers from the ACT 314849 L/CPL Peter Martin 71-74 8rar 8/9rar

      • Derek Holyoake says

        Hello Peter
        I was attached to D Company from November 1973 until March 1976 where i served with 12 platoon.
        I was a tankie and was attached there with another Buddy Phil Dickson from 4th Cavalry Regiment in Brisbane.

        Prior to going to Butterworth we were detached to 6RAR and underwent the Canungra training and also we had to attend orders ar the old picture theatre at Enoggers where we were told we are being sent on Active Service in Butterworth.

        Peter whilst serving there we always had live ammunition and on more than once we had to dig in at the Cemetery.
        Peter whilst in Butterworth at these ACTIONS i was shot at and this was confirmed by being sent to Singapore to have my eye checked and it was a phospherous burn causing a Corneal Ulcer in my left eye. I receive 20% disability for this injury from DVA for this Incident in a Non Active Service they say.
        Makes me sick they say this.

  8. Michael Quinn says

    I did 3 postings at Butterworth 1979 B Company 3RAR,1980 C Company 3RAR,
    1987 D Company 2/4.
    On each occasion we were marched on to the parade ground and told we were there “Whilst
    on War Service”.
    When we did “Quick Reaction” we carried live ammunition.For those of us being called out to a Key Point for the first time it was a wakeup call of what could happen.We never knew if we were going into the real thing or what.
    Field punishment was conducted “On The Double.”The question now being raised is;was that punishment illegal, and can those who did it take legal action against the DOD?Be interesting to see.
    As we are finding out over the years is that obviously there is a difference between War Service and Active Service.This had not been clarified or even brought on any posting to Butterworth I did.The way I am starting to see it, is that War Service is where the government has the opportunity to put its Service Members in harms way,on the cheap and without responsibility.

  9. Craig Ellery says

    As a young infantryman, I can remember practising ‘contact’ drills and thinking that taking and returning fire was what a contact was all about. I’ve since read many histories of conflicts such as Malaya and Borneo and how the contacts experienced there were so distinct from my ideas. I was under the misguided opinion that ‘contacts’ had to involve fire-fights but many of the contacts registered by patrols involved a bearing to a distinct explosion; footprints on a jungle track; coming across a number of spent rounds and so forth. The RCB deployments experienced a uniqueness of their own, as did the conflicts of Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam. With a bit of study behind me I have come to the conclusion that a lot more happened on our deployments than I previously thought or was told by the officers of our company; equally, I shouldn’t believe everything I’ve been told concerning the activities in other conflicts. I only hope those in Government spend some time studying the RCB deployments and realising how dangerous it is to form a perception without a critical examination of the supporting facts.

  10. Michael Connolly says

    I completed two (2) tours of RCB June to September 1974 C Coy and again June to September 1975 A Coy, both with 1 RAR. On both tours whilst on duty we were issued with live ammunition. As the duty section (Quick Reaction Force, QRF) we would be called out to conduct sweeps of nominated stategic places/areas of the RAAF/RMAF Airbase. On the 1975 tour with A Coy 1 RAR, the RMAF took the first of two deliverys of their new (replacing the RAAF Sabres that were handed to the RMAF by the Australian Government) F5E Aircraft. A Coy was allocated the task of protecting these assets which came in on US Starlifters, until the RMAF moved them off the US aircraft. During this period some 3 days we conducted roving and standing/listening patrols with personnel of the Malaysian Army attached to each patrol, once again we were issued with live ammunition. This is was not training it was operational/warlike service, show me any other area of service the Australian Army was involved in at that time where we carried live ammunition with ROEs that gave us the right to protect ourselves/others and assetts of the Australian Government. Now many can state that we were not attacked, we did not fire a shot in anger, however we were there with all the intent and purpose to do just that if the need arose, so let the fight begin. All of the above can be supported by those who served during that period.

    • Bertram Holland says

      I did one tour of Butterworth, June to September, 1975 with A Coy. 1 R.A.R. We were issued with live ammunition,while protecting the airbase.and when up on the border,with Thailand. We also did some patrolling north of Jahore Bahru. An American C 5A Galaxy brought a shipment of F5E fighters down from Thailand.The airbase commander wanted a platoon stationed under,and around the Galaxy.Major Barry French M.C.,our O.C. told him in not so civil terms,that this would not be happening,because the large plane would be a perfect target for rocket,and mortar fire. We carried out our normal perimeter protection,and ready reaction duties.

  11. peter jones says

    I find it quite strange that members of RCB have been again looked over I can remember a cpl who was late coming back from leave and was going to be charged with desertion not awol it was not until the legal officer from Aust stepped in and had it down graded to A.W.O.L or the digger who was slashed in the thought in the S.A.L block one early morning – no there was no danger to us there, oh come on you stupid pollies do the right thing instead of only looking after your own pay rises

  12. Tex Howarth 6 RAR says



    I just googled “Tex Howarth” to see what I have been up to lately. There was an article there about RCB, the one with the photo of us. There was also a census to see what the public thinks of the AASM for RCB.

    At this stage there have been 193 people who have voiced their opinion. The results are:

    In favour of the AASM – 173 (89.6%)

    Against the AASM – 17 (8.8%)

    Unsure – 3 (1.5%)


    • Craig Ellery says

      In a perfect world, politicians would listen to the voice of the public and take heed of the opinion espoused in the census. I feel buoyed by those who voted in our favour.

  13. graham cannan says

    Hi all,
    I did three tours of RCB with 1RAR. 1978,1980 and 1981.
    I can recall seeing the MAF’s, F5’s bombed up with the pilots on standby. After a while they would take off and return an hour or so, empty off munitions. the next day three of MAF choppers landed near RCB barracks. waiting was a fleet of ambulances.
    The wounded, some missing limbs were taken of first, followed by the body bags
    At the time i was partolling the barracks as security. Carrying my loaded SLR with fixed bayonet, i approached the med vac , and asked a malay soldier what had happened.

    His reply was that the previous day the malay army had located a CT bunker system, hence the air strike the day before. the MIA and KIA, were the result of booby traps while clearing the bunker system.

    Malaysia was fighting an insurgency, and we wre apart of it

    duty first

    • 5/7 1986- I remember the MAF choppers return with wounded and dead on a regular basis,i also remember when on standby how worried i was at what could of happened.
      It still think about these things today

  14. Glen Palmer says

    I was with 103 Sig Sqn in Townsville and spent a heap of time with 1 and 2/4 RAR. In 1978 I was seconded to 1 RAR for my time at RCB and like the other posts on this site it was crystal clear to me that it was “game on”. I clearly recall the ROE and for me the realisation was having brass rounds in my magazine and not black plastic ones. I was under no doubt that as we patrolled the base that if the ROE criteria was met, that it would become a two way rifle range pretty quick. I read in the dismissive defence reply something about families being posted there and living in Penang but I can also recall getting on a truck, going to Batu Ferringi dressed in Civvies and wandering around a rec centre or similiar and that is where the families would go in the event of danger. On that day our task was to walk around the place and become familiar with it and identify vantage points should we have to provide security and protection for the families. This was during an election period in 1978. I don’t understand all the thrust and parry of politics but I do know I was legally entitled to return fire and if that’s active service or war like, I haven’t got a clue but I know it wasn’t a bloody jolly.

    • Hans Graetz says

      G’day Franz,I read your story with interest and it bought back some memories as have most of the stories that I read here. I have found that my 1976 rotation is not in my AAB83 or in PMKeys. I am pretty sure that C Coy 8/9 took over from B Coy 8/9 RAR, could you confirm or deny this from your recolections.

      Hans Graetz

      Still living the dream soldiering on.

      • Franz Hagl says

        Hi Hans, B Coy 8/9 RAR was deployed between June and September 1976 (the actual dates are unknown to me).

        Hope this is of help.

  15. Franz Hagl says

    Hi, to all ex-RCB & RAAF Butterworth members.
    I am an ex-serviceman (Army 1975 to 1995). Following my 12 month posting to 10IRC Canungra in 1975/1976, I was transferred to ‘C Company’ 8/9 RAR for their tour of duty at RCB, Malaysia, September through December 1976. I have only recently connected to the internet and have been researching the Australian Service Medal (ASM) vs Australian Active Service Medal (AASM) debate.
    During my early service there did not exist the terminology ‘warlike or non-warlike service’. Although we were not directly involved in a war at that time, there was an armed conflict within the borders of the country that we were operating within. Prior to our departure we were briefed by our superiors that our deployment to Butterworth would be on ‘active service’ and any disciplinary breaches would be dealt with according to the rules for overseas active service (not Australian peacetime service) which existed at that time.
    The operative word here being “active”.
    Being a young soldier of 18 y.o. I did not have the experience or the knowledge at that time and was basically scared of Warrant Officers and Officers (whom you never, ever questioned anyway) and whatever they said you took as being the absolute gospel truth.
    So, if we were allegedly on ‘active service’ then why are we not entitled to the AASM?
    Someone in the Defence Department/DH&A should look at the terminologies that exist now and existed then and if the current active service medals are for ‘warlike service’ then change their designations to the ‘Australian War Medal (AWM) and make it an extension of the War Medal 1939-45 and for those service personnel engaged on other active service (i.e. – RCB, Peace Keepers and so on) they should be awarded with the AASM. For all other types of service rendered (i.e. – humanitarian/medical aid or other specialized assistance to a civilian crisis) then issue of the ASM is a sufficient reward.
    To the RCB Review Group and Supporters all the best with your campaign against the Dept of Defence and Australian Government. But the way I interpret the current terminology used within the awards system to describe these awards you are going to need serious divine intervention or a good legal team.
    Good Luck!

  16. Mark Fulcher says

    I served in the RCB with A Coy 3 RAR 1982. We went on ‘exercise’ with 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment up near the Thai border. We carried sharpies for our gats and link for the 60, our sigs. were also given a code word that would switch us from ‘exercise’ to operations. The explanation we received for the sharpies was so we could get ourselves out of any contact we may get into. There were a couple of Malay soldiers attached to each of our sections. My section was taken in an APC and dropped forward of the battalion on the edge of a swamp. We were there as a LP. The 2 Malay soldiers with us were very jumpy and nervous, I asked them what was up and they told me the area was rife with CT’s. I know I didn’t get much sleep that night and I knew at that point I was’nt on an exercise. Like others posting on here, before our deployment we were paraded on the company parade ground and warned out for ‘war service’. We were told as of that point any disciplinary action would be dealt with under the Army Act 1903, which was only instigated for active service. We were specifically warned that anyone going AWoL would be charged with desertion and not AWoL. It all sounds like a training exercise to me!!

  17. Forgotten Diggers seek recognition


    • Defence writer Ian McPhedran Adelaide NOW
    • November 25, 2011 12:30AM

    UP to 9000 army veterans have launched a fresh campaign for proper recognition of their service in Malaysia.
    The Rifle Company Butterworth was posted to Malaysia for 19 years, between 1970 and 1989, during a communist insurgency to protect RAAF Mirage fighters and personnel at the Malaysian air base at Butterworth, near Penang.
    The body representing all battalions, the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation, has thrown its weight behind the push by former Lieutenant Colonel Mike Dennis, who served in Malaysia.
    The demands are simple:
    ALL veterans who served at Butterworth to receive the Australian Active Service Medal.
    ALL veterans to be granted “warlike” repatriation benefits.
    Mr Dennis has uncovered top-secret documents from the early 1970s, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, that prove that Defence and the then government lied about the Diggers’ true role at Butterworth.
    • Bob Stewart, Korea 51-52 of Lameroo Posted at 3:31 AM November 25, 2011
    Yet they still lie. Politicians cannot be trusted as custodians and protectors of the Nation. The enemy is already here. We are at risk from those elected into public office with little experience and less talent to exercise it. More so, than those who sold their AK47 and a stash of heroin to come here. Was it to escape a hate of the infidels, or to bring it with them?
    Comment 1 of 12
    • Steven Bruce Carnell Posted at 7:38 AM November 25, 2011
    I served and I remember at least one incident of intrusion onto the base where a shot was fired and an “exercise” into the jungle where an air strike we were in hearing and sight distance of was on a guerilla base – so we were informed.
    Comment 2 of 12
    • Alan K of Up the River Posted at 8:19 AM November 25, 2011
    If men are good enough to be sent to danger zones, they deserve to be honoured as well. The politicians who sent them there would not have wanted to be there, and as for the ones who turned down the request have any of them seen action? These guys who went there were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if need be and these department officials just kick sand in their faces as to say. What a discrace they are, give the ment the medals and services they deserve, they done our country proud, so lets show them we are proud of them as well and give them what they deserve.
    Comment 3 of 12
    • William of Aragon Posted at 8:38 AM November 25, 2011
    So if the Department of Defence and the Australian Government lied to the public back then, who knows what lies they are telling to the public about Afghanistan now?
    Comment 4 of 12
    • anthony doyle of qld Posted at 9:55 AM November 25, 2011
    I served twice at airbase Butterworth with 2/4 RAR back in 1980 and again in 1984 and I think we should be shown proper recognition for our service to our country.
    Comment 5 of 12
    • Steve Larkins of Adelaide Posted at 12:16 PM November 25, 2011
    The statements made about service in Butterworth exagerate the reality. It demeans the significance of the AASM particularly for those veterans who served in other theatres. I served on two deployments; Butterworth in 1977 and Rwanda in 1995. There is no comparison. We were not ‘armed at all times’ in Butterworth as cited in the article. In Rwanda we slept with our weapons and ammunition at our side and carried them in the load condition outside our perimter. In Butterworth we manned a small armed Quick Reaction Force but the reality was the Malaysians took care of the security of the base. The claim that the insurgency was ‘raging outside the base perimeter’ in Butterworth is a gross exageration. Thousands of RAAF personnel were serving in Butterworth with their families at that time, living normal, day-to-day lives and tourists were everywhere. In Rwanda we knew where all the Australian Nationals were and had a plan to get them out if need be. There were no such measures in place in Butterworth nor did there need to be. RCB was a low risk deployment in a low threat environment,less restrictive than the Solomon Islands, where an ASM is awarded for for Operation ANODE.
    Comment 6 of 12
    • Steve of Mid North Coast Posted at 4:45 PM November 25, 2011
    Funny that. I served there in 1975/76 and was escort to a mate being charged with – Sleeping on Picquet. He was charged as “Whilst on War Service”. Maybe I should contact him and tell him to sue the old OC!!!!!!!
    Comment 7 of 12
    • William of Aragon Posted at 4:48 PM November 25, 2011
    Steve Larkins, you were not there in 1975. Vietnam fell, Laos fell, Cambodia fell, and the supply of arms and supplies to the communist guerrillas in Malaysia went through the roof. What happened at and around the base back then will no doubt be revealed in the fullness of time. I cannot comment on your tour in ’77 and I suggest that you restrict your comments on what you know and not generalise your 3 months to include all other times.
    Comment 8 of 12
    • KD Radbone Posted at 5:29 PM November 25, 2011
    I was a member 1 RAR and of the first rifle company to be based at Butterworth (Feb 1971) It was made quite clear to us that we were sent there in response to the activities of the Communists who were still very active in the northern Malaysia and Thailand border area and as a warning to them, that the Australian Army were present . Whilst we were based at Butterworth Air Base we were also deployed well north of Alor Star in the state of Kedah. It was also explained to us that whilst this was not a declared war zone any offence would be charged as if committed in a War Zone . Only one man in each section carried live ammunition but our CO was convinced that if an incident were to arise, we” would all equip ourselves well “,which I found laughable. We were in an area which could have been dangerous and this should be recognised.
    Comment 9 of 12
    • Ray C Posted at 5:32 PM November 25, 2011
    Irespective of the risk level in Butterworth the potential threat exsisted. I believe we deserve recognition of our service.
    Comment 10 of 12
    • Mark of Adelaide Posted at 10:14 PM November 25, 2011
    Don’t know if I can agree with you Steve, Different Times and Different set of Rules, You must realize that the 2nd Malayan Conflict ended in 1989 And the reason Butterworth remained relatively safe was due to the present of the Australian Forces as the MCP did not want to risk the chance of more Australian and British Soldiers coming to assist. Also you must remember that there was a Armed Australian Patrol protecting the Base at all times. With armed Soldiers protecting the arms and Ammunition Bunker. Remember as a Nation we were relatively new at the terrorism defence side and the Higher powers decided that it would be better if we did not run around armed all the time, I also remember that Malayan soldiers were still fighting the MCP during the time Australia had soldiers present
    Comment 11 of 12
    • Chris Duffield of South Australia Posted at 11:30 PM November 27, 2011
    Yes I agree Service at RCB should get proper recognition. As for Steve Larkin’s comments about “demeaning the significance of the AASM for those veterans who served in other theatres”, how does he justify the AASM for personnel who served in Kuwait, Dubai, Qatar and Diego Garcia where all of those personnel received, and continue to receive the AASM with no threat at all? I suggest he does some real research on what was going on in and around Butterworth expecially when I was there in 1973! Ask the question “why has the government kept this service from the public and why does it continue to deny access to relative documents citing the Official Secrets Act due to ploitical sensitivity? Ask the Malays if things were serious or not and by the way those RAAF personnel and their families were also there during the 1st Emergency and the Confrontation but those periods of service drew recognition. Support your digger mates, don’t neglect them like the government has.
    Comment 12 of 12

    • Peter martin says

      Hi Craig I was with A Coy 8/9 rar
      We went to RCB July to Sept 1973 after training at canungra
      I remember the coy being briefed at the old picture theatre on base at ennogera with MP,s outside
      We were warned out for Active Service
      Later on same happened again and it was updated to War service
      At RCB whilst patrolling the base we carried mags with live rounds in ammo box
      We also had a code for our radio Green (normal) amber (mag on)
      And red (rifle cocked) even remember
      Code for Red (panther) as it happened one night whilst I was with my section on patrol
      The Malaysian Rangers ambushed some CTS north of RCB & found docs they were on way to mortar RCB Nothing happened But you have to think
      Also our rules of engagement were made quiet clear to all
      Example Got told if shot at shoot to kill Also if CT on perimeter fence 7 you shoot him & he fall,s off to outside you go over fence & throw his body back over otherwise Malay Government could charge you with murder?
      I personally am happy with my ASM but the fact remains that we were officially warned out for War service by very high ranking officers from the ACT 314849 L/CPL Peter Martin 71-74 8rar 8/9rar

      Well said l was at rcb July- Oct 1973 with 8rar that became 8/9rar whilst at rcb we aren’t asking for much just the truth & recognition

  18. You need to review the criteria set out for various awards and review previous upgrades to the AASM such as Namibia, Cambodia and Rwanda. At no stage during any of those deployments were any offensive operations being conducted. One, if they were so inclined could question the validity behind the awarding of the ASM with clasp CT/SR. Everyone deserves apropriate recognition for their service and i am sorry to say the ADM just does not cut it when recognising specific service.
    I believe everyone who has served at RCB to even date deserves an ASM, those that served there up until 89 if they prove their case then so be it if they are awarded the AASM. It has always been acknowledged that service at RCB was to protect Australian assets. That is the purpose of being there nothing more nothing less. Certain periods of time were at a higher threat level than others.

  19. Michael Connolly says

    I cannot see service in Diego Garcia (other than pilots who flew into the war zone over Iraq) can receive an AASM, this is the same for Namibia without the same being afforded to RCB. Has anyone got an update as to how our submission is going?

    • Trevor Dixon says


      The reality is that this Government has, in our opinion, made its mind up based on selective and incomplete evidence provided by the bureaucrats and that includes the military ones.

      They have failed to refute that the RCB deployment was strategically based. Why else would the newly elected Labour Government retain the RCB at Butterworth and yet implement its election promise to bring home all overseas troop deployments from Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore?

      And we know from documents discovered from a freedom of information request that the Defence Chiefs of Staff Committee directed that the RCB deployment be “sold” to the Australian public as a joint military training activity with the Malaysians. And yet the Malaysians said that this was not possible because their Forces were fully committed to fighting the Second Emergency against communist insurgents.

      In light of those revelations is it any wonder that we suspect a cover up of RCB’s reality.

      RCB was a strategic deployment by the Australian government under its Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) to protect/defend the Australian assets at the RAAF Base Butterworth (which included the FPDA’s HQ of the Integrated Air Defence System (IADS)) and was a strategic ready-reaction force on call for deployment by the Australian Government as required.

      It was prepared to fight, had rules of engagement and expected to take casualties. That it did not engage a hostile force is proof of its deterrent success.

      It would seem that such a force has to have had “battle” casualties to be considered worthy of a classification higher than garrison duties. Which raises the question: in such an event how would that service be classified?

      This Government will not re-consider the matter. In fact it has overturned the previous Coalition Government’s decision to grant hazardous service. We are sceptical enough to believe that a major factor in the Government’s decision was the potential cost that may impact on their political imperative to reach a budget surplus.

      We will take the matter up with the Opposition. In the meantime we will sharpen our analysis, expose the inadequacies of the bureaucrat’s analysis and their recommendation to the current Government.

      Robert Cross

  20. Michael Connolly says

    Thanks for the update, in essence the Government really should not be making the call that is why the Honours and Awards Tribunal was set up (allegedly independant). I know it took from 1996 to 2011 for the ASM clasp CT/SR to be awarded. RCB should not be disregarded, 1972 to 1975 Gough Whitlam PM would nto have spent any money on Defence unless he had to, hence we maintained out Butterworth Airbase and RCB, had he not done so, then I believe (and he must have as well) that the CTs would have gained the upper hand in the Norther areas of Malaysia, the RAAF ws very instrumental in keepin the Sabres up and running for the MRAF to use. The RCB took the strain off the Malaysian Gov having to keep troops looking after Buttererworth (because RCB ws doing that) which they could use to combat the CTs. You are right we must persevere, because if you don’t you become sand in the wind and just drift away, which is exactly what Gov want. Duty First then fight like hell for your rights.

  21. Mark Weinert says

    We were given the rules of engagement,Berhenti atau saya tembak Stop or I shoot) we were told to say.Training excercise I think not.On my deployment in 1986 we were called to a key point with live ammo on !!! This was in my opinion worthy of the aasm.We were there for a genuine reason, not a holiday. U got my backing

  22. GRAHAM CANNAN says

    hi all,
    I have a photo taken in 1978 at camp pulada, malaysia at the tracking dog wing.
    It lists the dates of the dogs contacts from 1972 to 1977. It lists date of contacts, KIA, WIA, weapons siezed and mines /boobytraps located.

    If this is worth anything I would be happy to forward the photo to the committee.

    duty first


  23. graham cannan says

    Hi Trev,
    I can post the original phototo RAR Association at Enoggera Barracks.
    The wording is in Malay, but is easily translated.

    graham cannan

  24. Michael Connolly says

    G’day team,

    I have a question that has been puzzling me for some time. If we were in RCB just for training. Why? did the Malaysian Government pay us to be there. Remember the off pay week we would get $500 Ringit (1974 rate) paid by the Malyasian Gov (correct me if I am incorrect by all means on this). I just find it curious that a foreign Gov would pay another Governments Defence Force to be in their country?


    Michael “Mick” Connolly

  25. George Lovett says

    Just came across a document titled ” Strategic Basis Of Australian Defence Policy March 1971″ This paper was endorsed by the Defence Committee on the 5th March 1971

    The paper goes into fine detail on the political scene of various countries throughout SE Asia, South Vietnam , Cambodia Laos,Thailand,Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia,Phillipines.

    The following reference is given about Regional Security, in particular Malaysia and Singapore..

    Cl 153 – Insurgency is expected to remain the main threat to the security of the nations of SE Asia during the coming decade.it is the American view that they have the manpower to cope with the insurgency.The implication is that ground forces should come from the region, but as yet the unaswered question is whether they have or could develop the necessary combat capability.

    Cl 154 – A study of the capabilities of the armned forces of South vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, Thailand, Phillipines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan shows that leaving aside Nth Vietnam and Japan, the abiility of most of the countries to field combat forces for counter insurgency operations is developing.

    Malaysia is progressively increasing her forces but the effectiveness of her ground forces has been diluted by expansion and their overall standard is poor with some unit exceptions.The army and the Police Field forces in their present stage of development would have great difficulty coping with a situation in which widespread racial violence was exploited by the communist insurgents.They would probably be able to ensure the survival of the government and administration but we can conceive of a situation in which restoration of law and order throughout the country would be beyond the capability of the local forces.

    Cl 66 – Singapores particular fears are of conflict with Indonesia and Malaysia and a possibility of them coming together in a pan – Malay allliance, which Singapore would expect to carry anti chinese overtones.Until now Singapore has relied almost exclusively on the ANZUK presence for defence against external agression.At the same time Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew appreciates that the presence of ANZUK forces may be expected to stabilze at least to some extent the communal situation in Malaysia from which in disturbed circumstances, political currents adverse to Singapores interests could very well spring.

    Cl 68 – The Australian military presence has political significance as an indication of continuing Australian interest in peaceful co-operation between Malaysia and Singapore.The presence also provides the Malaysian government with some military reassurance against the contingencies of external attack and externally promoted insurgency.It also provides a framework for the pursuit of admittedly diffcult objective of facilitating defence co-operation bewteen Malaysia and Singapore.

    Cl 69- The Australian miliary presence in Malaysia / Singapore should therfore be sustained in present circumstances.We should watch very closely the trend of relations between Singapore and Malaysia,since while the presence of Commonwealth forces might itself help to deter the two governments from the ulitmate extremity of attacking each other deterioration of relations beyond a certain point would undermine the feasability of Australian and other commonwealth forces being used for common defence.The implications for a possible future refusal by Malaysia to allow the predominantly Chinese ground forces of Singapore to be employed in combat defence of Malaysia needs to be kept under review.

    Cl 72 – Communal conflict is exlusively and counter insurgency is primarily a Malaysian responsibility and both are accepted as such by the Malaysian government, which has already deployed operationally almost half of its growing ground forces with police forces to contain the existing insurgent threat in both West and East Malaysia.The MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT HAS DOMESTIC POLITICAL REASONS NOT TO CALL ON FOREIGN FORCES EXCEPT IN EXTREMES.Never the less should the evel of insurgent activity continue to increase and the communal conflict also occur, Australia could receive requests for combat assistance on grounds that the situation was beyond the capability of loal forces.Known Australian reservations in relation to conflict in East Malaysia would be likely to lead to Australian combat forces being requested to operate in the Thai – Malay fronter area.

    When one considers that ANZUK (Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom ) brigade was formalised in November 1971, this paper dated March 1971 tells us that the government of the day knew of the risk of potential conflict arising not only in Malaysia through the internal insurgency but also between Malaysia and Singapore .The role of RCB initially grew out of the Australian component of ANZUK Brigade and which after ANZUK was disbanded was later sourced direct from Australia,1973 onwards.It would appear that those who served under ANZUK / RCB and those who served with RCB direct from Australia served in a period of absolute unknowns in terms of the potential of the role escalating into a full blown combat situation.They are trying to tell us that we were only involved in garrison type duties, there was a real objective danger that we all were faced with.I am at a loss in my older age as to why a government would send its troops into a region where the potential of involvement in a conflict was known and identified yet sell the role to the public as a training type role.For those who served its an absolute insult.

  26. George Lovett says

    RAR Corporation -In my quest to support the RCB issue I have exposed myself. I am infantry by heart and always will be and in saying this my quest in support of the RCB issue rests there.This is not a personal endeavour for recognition but more so a quest for recognition of those fine individuals who have worn the skippy badge in service of ther nation. Duty First

  27. I have no contacts in the Liberal Party but those who have it might be the right time to speak to them about this ongoing and for some people stressful time in there lives to get there take on what is a major injustice for us men of RCB i served there myself twice and on more then one occasion carried live rounds for not only my rifle but my pistal as well its time it was fixed !!!!!!!!!

    duty first

  28. Little grunt says

    Fromwhat i understand about 80000 have served with the RAR since inception and about 9000 of those have served under RCB from 1970 to 1989, which is about 10% of the RAR.
    Come on guys where are you, speak up and put your comments forward.

  29. I served under RCB with Bravo Coy 2/4 Battalion as a Rifleman on ‘loan’ from the 3RD
    Field Engineer Regiment and deployed in late 75. We were required when on Duty to carry Ball Ammunition and our weapons in the Loaded condition at all times,this was the “Norm” on and off the Base including whilst on Exercise. In fact while on exercise near the Thai boarder our Section was ordered to the Action condition and told to Stant To as suspected CT’s were thought to be active and moving through our immediate area. No contact was made but the threat was very real and I can assure all, taken seriously at the time. Good luck, The Ginger Beer.

    • From one Ginger beer to another, hi Ado, glad to see you are still interested in our

    • Charles Gallagher says

      Hi Ado, Kon & Gents,
      Same shit different smell at the Parliament in Canberra. Lies after lies and when is it going to stop? Do the right thing before we all leave this wonderful country.It’s no good to us when we die.

      Another Ginger Beer served with B-Coy, 1RAR in 1981.
      I had my weapon loaded with live rounds when I accompanied the CO and OC into the rubber plantation. Is that what you call an “Exercise”???

      Come on guys. Honour the dead, fight like hell for the living.

      Charles “Charlie” Gallagher (RAE) 18-3-80 to 21-7-2002

  30. rick(macca)macdonald says

    I served at the RCB from FEB MAY 1982 with DELTA COMPANY 2/4 RAR. At all times we where doing QRF( quick reaction force) we had to carry live ammo. I also remember being payed by the MALAYSIAN goverment every off payday I think it was around 500 ringit. Also I remember being told that the MALAYSIAN where still fighting a war with the ct’s & at times we went to the RAAF mess we would see the MALAYSIAN army choppers landing & unloading the wounded/kia.

  31. Michael Connolly says

    G’day everyone. Can someone please explain why ADF personnel who are currently stationed in the UAE (Dubai) and previously in Kuwait receive the AASM. No threat from hostile action or imminent danger or loss of life from hostile forces. Yet! we who were in RCB had an ROE where when on duty (QRF) you were issued with live ammunition to protect yourself and Australian assets against hostile (enemy) threats? Yet in the UAE they do not carry weapons or have live ammunition issued to them? So I think that we as a group need to re-submit our issues to the appropriate authority, maybe just maybe we can have our issue given a better hearing.

  32. George Lovett says

    The first rifle company rotation occurred in November 1970 with C .Coy -1RAR rotating from Singapore.The were transported from Singapore on a 36hour voyage on the logistics ship Sir Lancelot along with vehicles and heavy stores.In March 1970 the Butterworth Air Base was officially handed back to the Malaysian Government.Mr Gordon had announced in his defence statement in Feb 1969 to rotate rifle companies through Butterworth.Mr Fraser in announcing the deployment of troops in Canberra said this was the start of regular deployments to the base.Butterworth air base is the largest air base in Malaysia and covers some 670acres and has become a base of major importance.The last permanent troops at Butterworth were the 110th Light Anti – Aircraft Battery which was withdrwan to Australia in June 1969. – source AWM Records F04471

  33. Stephen Adams says

    I was posted to RCB, A Coy 2/4 RAR March 1978 we where given clear ROE and wile on patrol of the air base carried weapons in the loaded condition. I was engaged 2 times wile at Butterworth (That is shot at)once wile on patrol having a shot fired at me from out side the fence, and the other time wile on QRF and attending a KP call out! I also recall that on one night that CT’s entered the air base and where Killed by Malay Security Forces, with all of RCB stood- to issued live ammo (Weapons at Action) This was NO exercise and the air base was locked down for a week after this incident!

  34. Where is everyone’s comment, have we come to a stand still ? it is the same people who get on this website and voice there opinion no one else. How are we going to win if no on else cares or does nothing about this injustice. We are all ex Infantry Soldiers who believe in looking after our mates through thick and thin , no matter what the situation is. Well come on fellas, you’re mates need you to now, get on the web and voice your opinions and tell these bloody pollies and The Tribunal what we want and what we DESERVE. We all agree that we served in an Active War Zone and we had our ROE to abide by so come on men tell other members and get in this fight with the rest your mates, remember as all Australian Soldiers, past or present we have a very proud tradition of looking after our mates , do I really need to say anymore. LETS ALL GET STUCK IN AND GET THIS RESOLVED.

    • I totally agree with your coment!
      So Arfter 38 years, I remember RCB.
      I quit the army while at RCB because of politicians lack of honesty and failed support of diggers then.
      Seems it is still happening!
      If soldiers are fired on and carry live rounds and have to be wary of booby traps on patrol?
      The only training we did in Malaya was to sharpen our skills for possible contacts or insergents entering the perimeter!!!!!

  35. I tend to agree with S Adamson, who posted his remark last September. As I was there at the same time Sep/Nov 75 along with another Sapper Jack Smith on “loan” from 3rd Field Engineer Regiment.
    I have supplied information in the past to Robert Cross regarding the submission from 8/9 RAR.
    The only document that we received at that time was that we were entitled the ASM with bar (SE Asia) and that this duty was arduous.
    But having said the above, I will assit if required

  36. Michael Connolly says

    Well the RAAF got their Vietnam Logisitc Support Medal, now what about pursuing ours. They were on the same ROE as RCB, so it is time the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal started to open up and accept our rights as well. RAAF Ubon/RCB same (Sama Sama) same.

  37. Ian McDougall says

    I would firstly like to acknowledge Kev Egan who served in Pioneer Platoon 1 RAR in the very early eighties with me and to Graham “Banga” Cannan who I was detached to Alpha Company with March – June ’81 to RCB.
    I distinctly recall being armed with an M16 and two thirty round mags of 5.56 as one of two escorts for an ammo truck between Butterworth and Pulada and having ROE to shoot anything that threatened us or tried to take anything from us. I spent a great deal of time at Pulada as part of the Support Platoon and had two trips down there. Often on our journeys to an from the camp at Pulada, there would be armed checkpoints/roadblocks manned with local Police/Military that were searching for weapons and suspected CTs. They use to wave us through smiling as brothers in arms and I felt that they were sincerely grateful for our presence.
    I have only recently been made aware of this struggle for recognition for members who served at RCB and would like to say that I am there with you all. Doogs.

  38. Philip McCavitie says

    You blokes are surely having a lend. This was a pissup trip.

  39. Macca McKilliam says

    After reading all the comments and serving with B Coy 6 RAR in Butterworth 1978, it leaves me no doubt that all serving Army personel serving there deserve the AASM. As far Im concerned and after speaking to untold veterans from Vietnam and other conflicts that if you carry live ammo that means your in a warlike situation. The government is just paranoid about possible backlash with compensation matters, or more likely cant afford to award medals after giving themselves a nice 2.4% payrise. I intend takeing up the matter with my local MP I hope you all do also. And remember maintain the rage and above all Duty First.

  40. Macca McKilliam says

    Id say seeing The so called Phillip McCavitie post on here that he would of been one of those blokes that spent more time in the armscoate than outside lol

    • Hello Macca,

      Mate for the life of me, I have forgotten what you look like.
      I was with you in 1978 (B COy 6 RAR).
      Not an easy posting as some think it was.
      I was also there back in 1973 with A Coy 6 RAR


      Peter Adamis
      (Pete the Greek)

  41. Mick Connolly says

    To Philip McCavitie, mate you are missing the point it is not about whether or not you thought of it as a p…up trip. The Government lied about the reason why we were in RCB, that is we went there to train with the Malaysian Army. Well in 1974 and 1975 with 1 RAR I never even saw a Malaysian solder do any training with us or us with them. We were in RCB to protect Australian personnel and assets if the proverbial hit the fan. An ROE along with live ammunition when you were on the QRF Section etc, does not amount to normal peace time garrison duty. I know blokes who with Sigs in SVN who lived in the Free World Hotel wore polyester uniform everyday and never even carried a weapon with live ammunition yet they are awarded the entitlements that come with the AASM. Personnel who are currently in the UAE and Kuwait who do not have any threat (like an ongoing insurgency in the country they are serving in) do not carry weapons etc; are awarded the AASM. So the question is why hasn’t the Government done the same for RCB, the answer is because our duty in RCB (Malaysia) was sold as a lie to the Australian people, because they had had enough of our Army being involved in any type of conflict (ie: SVN) so the ADF (read lying desk jockey Generals) with the Gov. printed it was only for training! So mate, whilst you enjoyed the p..ups and the good life of being overseas, when you were on duty you were on duty for a purpose, just because a shot was never fired in anger does not lessen the reasons why we were there, because if it came down to it we were placed in a very precarious position, where we acted as a deterrent to the CT/s in having a go at the airbase. Now if it was such a jolly trip as you have stated why was it only Infantry Rifle Companies that were posted there? Why not the Ordnance Corps or Transport. Have a think about it mate and you will see that a clear and present danger was there otherwise a ROE would never have been issued along with a rifle and live ammunition. So the RCB support group is trying to right that wrong and get the Gov and ADF to admit that they lied to us and the public and that our service should have been Gazetted and we should have been placed on the allotted list for operational service, thus endeth the lesson.

    • vin cronin says

      A BIG YES well said

    • Hans Graetz says

      G’day Vinc I was in Butterworth with you on that trip, I believe you were with 3 Pl which was the 9RAR platoon, your Pl Comd was Bubbles Wilson and Pl Sgt Ross (bookies best mate one each way) Kenny. I was in 2 Pl from 8 RAR.

      Still serving, still living the dream.

      • John RAAMS says

        If we are talking 1973, went over as 8RAR and came back to 8/9 RAR.. then i was there with you and yes i remember bubble wilson and Ross the “boss” Kenny, as do remember Vic “Pop” Burgess and Kev Barry or Wally Sturzaker.. Im sure none of us will forget

  42. Interested Observer says

    I suggest Phillip MaCavitie and other doubters review the current posting regarding a Malaysian Oficer who fought in the 2nd Malaysian Insurgency.Interestingly he makes reference to Kedah as being a hot spot for CT activity, just so happens Butterworth Air Base is situated in Kedah State.He also makes reference to other airstrips being busy with Carribou and Nuri choppers, where do you think those aircraft deployed from given that Butterworth was the main strike base on mainland Malaysia.Not only the Australian Government lied to us about the true role of RCB , I would suggest that the Malaysian Government have a lot more to disclose, after all RCB was instigated under the auspice of the FPDA in which Malaysia was a member.There is not much public information being made avaialable by the Malaysians and it surprises that such an article escapaped scrutiny.As a miminmum the article exposes the fact that RCB deployments were undertaken against a background of internal insurgency and possible escalation involvng RCB.The RCB deployments are no different to the Somalia deployment in which those serving with 1 RAR were awarded the AASM , in that situation 1 RAR were deployed on a humanitarin mission under NATO, they had ROE but defensive only.they operated in a country where internal conflict existed but were not directly involved in that conflict.RCB is no different.

  43. Mark Stewart says

    Firstly I would like to thank those members that have been fighting this fight for us. I personally know Robert Cross, and for a bit of trivia, I was doing my Assault Pioneer Course with him ay 6 RAR when I was if I wanted to go. Pioneer course finished on the Saturday and I flew out on the Sunday. We didn’t go straight tp Butterworth we went to Alor Star first for a month, “training” with an operational battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment, the 9th to be precise. They called exercise Haringaroo who send soldier to train with an operational battalion in contact with the enemy. My section got shot at twice, but we were ordered to pull back, to an infantry man that just plain sucks. My trip was from November 1978 to February 1978, I remember the briefing before we took over from 6 RAR on how many expected RED days we were going to have. Surely if they can tell us that they must have information on possible CT movements. As very one said we were armed with live ammo and the arms coat piquet had a mag of M16 and a M16 to use, that was not training.

  44. Kon Glekas says

    I am one of these people that have a lot of patients, but some of the responses that have been received from the defence department are beyond comprehension, I have read the secret and confidential papers that were obtained by Mike Denis under the freedom of informations act (Thank you Mike), and it s beyond me that these were not looked at at by the Department of Defence on the initial request by Robert Cross for the 8/9 RAR Association for recognition of the service by the RCB as “war like” and the issue of the appropriate awards, this was about 10 years ago.
    I did my stint at Butterworth in 1975, and this has re ignited memories based on the above, and yes, we all were marched on the parade ground and and were given our orders.
    I was not surprised that in one paper, the OC Butterworth Air Base expressed concern about the intelligence information received that the CT were near the base and the risk that they may attack was extremely high, and if some of the above posts are correct, then the quote that the RCB were not fired upon would be untrue and these would have been recorded in communications marked as secret.
    I have been following the requests to review the type of service, particularly by Robert Cross, and the replies received from the Department of Defence and each person that has reviewed our case contradicts the previous.
    Now based on the media (newspapers), they state that Mike Denis has met the Defence Secretary, with a response that they will review it one more time, once all the documents have been examined, this was in November 2015, lets see what happens this time, are they going to access the documents marked as secret which supports our submission or are they going to come back with the same excuses that we were there for training.
    How time flies, I was at Butterworth over 40 years ago.

  45. Kelvin Suker says

    Latecomer to this. Bravo Coy 1RAR ’73-’79. RCB over Christmas I think in 74 but may have been 75. Concur with all previously said. We had live rounds, ROE and turn outs were serious.
    Will write/email my local member to seek explanation of why there is still no recognition.

  46. Herbert Mitterer says

    I was recently advised by a friend that I may be entitled to a Service Medal on account of my deployment with C Company 1 RAR to Rifle Company Butterworth, and in the process of my enquires, I came across the correspondence from the then Minister of Veteran affairs to the Royal Australian Regiment Association dated 14 June 2014, and I must say, I was extremely offended by its content.

    I served in the Australian Regular Army from 1971 to 1991

    In 1974, whilst posted to 107 Field Battery, 4 Fd Regiment RAA (Townsville) in the then capacity of FO signaller I was called into the Battery Commander’s Office and told that I had been nominated for deployment with a Company of 1 RAR to Rifle Company Butterworth as a rifleman. And I can distinctly recall that as part of that conversation it was made plain to me that this was no overseas junket. That is, it was an overseas operational deployment into a hostile environment, and as such, before I would be allowed to go, I would first have to complete comprehensive training in infantry minor tactics and be assessed as competent by the Company Commander. Therefore, in the last quarter of 1974 I was detached to C Company 1 RAR to undertake that training and assessment. And it needs to be noted that the final training before deployment were contact drills using live ammunition, which I understand was only undertaken in preparation for war-like overseas service.

    Then in early 1975, having completed my training and having been assess as competent, I departed Australia with C Company for Butterworth and for the next three months performed the duties of a rifleman with the RCB. I cannot speak as to what happened before or after I was there, only what happened whilst I was there, but whilst there I engaged in activities which directly contradict much as what was contained in the Ministers correspondence.

    Like all past and future contingents, on the day we arrived, we were advised there would be no local leave until familiarisation briefings had been completed. These briefings lasted a few days and ranged from the current threat level, the rules of engagement, the local culture and what to do and not do, and where go and not go, when on local leave. Then from day one of our arrival until late April it was a regular routine of regular 24 hour rotations through the ready-room for immediate armed deployment in the event of an attack on the airfield interspaced with on base section and platoon level training which was mostly performed to keep one occupied when confined to base as the ready reserve if those in the ready room activated. During that period, I also performed the duties of an armed sentry in the unit armoury.

    Then, as thing so often do, everything changed. It changed because in April 1975 North Vietnam finally successfully invaded the south, giving rise to an increase in CT activity, including around Butterworth, resulting in the immediate cancellation of all local leave for the all members of the RCB, and with the whole company put on standby, and with the ready reaction force increased to platoon strength, with one section detached to a building on the flight line to conduct armed patrols of those base facilities considered most at risk, and with those on patrol provided with enhanced rules of engagement. That is our ability to use deadly force was not limited to self-defence. As for the remainder of my tour, though the enhanced ready reaction force was maintained, limited local leave was allowed, but only for small groups at a time.

    So when the above is compared to the content of the minister’s correspondence, the immediate question which arises is; if there is no evidence the Infantry Company was used in an “emergency ground defence capacity, other than for exercise purposes” then what was I doing on the flight line at 2 am with a loaded M16 searching for CT’s who may be breached airbase boundary to attack the airbase facilities, with rules of engagement which allowed me, if satisfied they were in fact an enemy force, to shot first, which I understand is the fundamental difference between warlike service and peacekeeping. That is war-like services allows one to engage the enemy before being fired upon. Peacekeeping only allows you to discharge your weapon once satisfied that it is you, who are being fired upon. That is, it was not a training exercise in an overseas location. We were there to responded with armed force in the event of an attack.

    Then there is “The Air Force History Unit advises there is no record of any ground defence emergency occurring”, yet in April 1975 such an emergency did occur. That is, because of well-founded security concerned, the camp was closed, all local leave was cancelled, the armed presence on the base by the RCB was substantially increased, including armed patrolling of base facilities considered most at risk and with enhanced rules of engagement which allowed there use a weapon in an offensive capacity. Aside from actually getting shot it doesn’t get any more war-like than that.

    As for the inference that that we were there for training, exactly what kind of training were we there for. I mean before we deployed, we undertook extensive training at section, platoon and company level, including jungle warfare training at Tully and live fire and movement training in the Mount Stuart training area. And yet, after we arrived at Butterworth the only training undertaken was at section or platoon level, mostly targeted to giving us something to do whilst we waited our turn to rotate through the ready room, and whilst in the ready room, we were not there to receive training on what to do if there was an attack. Instead we were there to provide an armed response in the event of an attack.

    I also found offensive the inference in the letter that service with RCB was a bit of a lark. That is, the inference it contained that in the mind of the minister and his staff there was little to distinguish it from service in Australia or conducting a unit training in a overseas location. At no time whist in Australia on training, was I ever given a loaded weapon with the authority to use it. Therefore, to attempt to justify the decision, even by inference, by comparing one against the other is offensive in the extreme to all of us who have served and as part of that service prepared to risk their lives in defence of their country.

    I have sent a copy of this to both the office of the Prime Minister and the RSL

    • Joseph Bowden says

      Herbert, you are spot on there mate. I served in Butterworth in 2008 with 9 CSSB, even though we were there in a different time frame to you guys we were warned that in accordance with the FPDA ROE, should anything happen, that’s why we’re there. What a lot of people need to acknowledge is the fact that there are Aussie soldiers there 24-7-365…. Blind Freddy can see that a ” Training Excercise ” as such does NOT last as long as that. FFS, what’s going on here ??? Our guard room was maned 24 hours a day. We still did regular patrols of our area of responsibility, and on our road runs down to Singapore, or anywhere else for that matter, our convoys had military police escort us with strict instructions to NOT let any vehicles get between or compromise the integrity of our packets. Oh and by the way, as always… Soldiers will get hurt because due to the ( Jungle Training ) I ended up in hospital with pneumonia, whilst a colleague was in hospital with a broken jaw. And we did get people approach us from the local community asking us about our movements, all the while claiming that they worked for the government. Yeah, witch government ?? On that note, at the markets in downtown Georgetown, a certain stall that us guys would go to, the stalls owner used to boast to us about our deployments etc… I’m not talking past etc, I mean up to date as in CURRENT…… WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE GOT OURSELVES INTO HERE ? But worry not, because it’s ONLY TRAINING ( according to our government )…..

    • Greg McMahon (TPI) says

      IN March/April six RAAF Service Police from Cpl to Warrant Officer were notified at 0100 hours in and on RAAF Bases in Australia that they were to assist in the security of the Saigon Evacuation. Upon our arrival at RAAF Base Richmond we were all boarded on a RAAF Hercules Aircraft and off loaded at Air Base Butterworth. The Assistant Provost Marshall (RAAF Police) and Officer Commanding RAAF Base Butterworth fear Malaysian Communist insurgency. Because Saigon was falling, Laos & Cambodia also being taken over by Communist troops, and the Penang Island Army camp had been mortared by Malaysian Chinese Communists. We were all issued with 9mm pistols whilst on duty, fortunately to my knowledge no insurgency took place? the police deployment last 6 weeks. I had previous completed a 2 year tour at Air Base Butterworth from 1972-74.

    • I remember Herbie when he was a Sargent at 8/12 I too was attached to an infantry company from 5/7 in the 80’s and have a very similar story to him ,at no time was it a junket it was an atmosphere of fear of the unknown.The piece that Mr Mitterer has written should be listened to by those in the position to effect change.Well done Herbert

  47. David Payne says

    5 tours of Butterworth. 1974 C Coy 2/4, 1979- C Coy 2/4, 1984 D Coy 1RAR, 2006- 2007 Back to back Tours with Gres Coy and Engineer Coy. I would classify the 2006- 2007 Tours as training, the others were operational. In 1974 I recall our section perched on barges in the Channel between Butterworth and Georgetown. Barges were loaded with bombs either being returned to or delivered from Australia. Our rules of engagement were pretty explicit- as delivered to us by the RAAF- if anyone tries to board these Barges they are to be shot. Live ammo issued- I was the gunner but I cant recall having the gun that night- but I did carry an SLR, with live ammo loaded into mags, and a mag fitted to the weapon. 1979- clearing patrols around the perimeter with live ammo and rules of engagement which allowed us to return fire, 1984, reacted to a damaged fence on the base and set up security- again with live ammo and similar rules of engagement.

    Either we were on active service and were lucky enough not to have been engaged, or we were acting (on orders) well outside our mission. The latter scenario does not match the briefings given prior to deployment or on arrival at Butterworth.

  48. Derek Holyoake says

    Good day Gentlemen

    My name is Derek Holyoake and i am a proud ex Soldier who served with Delta Company 6 RAR in Butterworth from November 1975 to March 2006.
    I was a trooper from B Sqn 4th cavalry Regiment that was posted to Delta Company due to shortages in Delta Company after Vietnam.

    I was trained as an Infantryman in Butterworth and very proud to have been part of these great soldiers.

    During my tour in Malaysia we had to push the C.T. threat back over the borderinto Thsiland. On one of these actions i was shot at and after a few days of medical fron the RAP i was sent to Singapore where i was diagnosed with a Left Corneal Ulser of my Left Eye from a phospherous burn from a round passing by my eye.

    I now receive a wonderful 20% Disability for this injury.
    My question is.
    If the Government agrees i have received an injury whilst on duty defending Australian defence of our people and property as a soldier in Malaysia then what was this? I have no doubts this is a War Like situation. I was in Butterworth the same day we took delivery of the F111’s that had to be defended by us from the C.T.’s

    Now i am 63 yrs old still trying to get my full benefits and recognition of what i did for my Country

    Derek Holyoake
    Gold Coast

  49. Colonel Garry Cook says

    Hl Guys
    I was a nasho with D coy 6 RAR in 1972-73. In SIngapore. D Coys was deployed to do our rotation to RCB in Feb/ Mar 1973.
    As a private Soldier at the time with my service due to be completed in march I never took a great deal of notice re rules of engagement etc.
    The only contribution that I can add is that when on guard duty the table was stacked with loaded mags with live ammo.

  50. Paul Toohey says

    I did not serve with RCB but up until the Armistice was signed it should be Warlike, after it was signed Non- Warlike simple as that !!!!
    P Toohey.

  51. I served with 5/7 RCB in 1986 i have memories of being on standby and worrying about what could happen for 3 months it was no holiday another memory was observing the MAF choppers returning on a regular basis with either dead or wounded on board and it was kept quite but we knew what was going on,it was all happening not that far away

  52. Ben Dover says

    Has anybody seen Phil Macavitie

  53. Hans Graetz says

    G’day Franz
    Thanks for the reply hopefully someone will know the dates and respond.

    • Franz Hagl says

      Hi Hans,
      I had a look through my old passport and C Company main group arrived on the 3rd of September and our main group departed on the 8th of December 1976. So if you work out the number of days we were at RCB, you should be able to roughly work out when B Coy arrived give or take one or two days. If you were in the advance party? They usually arrived somewhere between 10 – 14 days prior to the main group.
      Hope this is of further help.

      • Hans Graetz says

        Great stuff Franz. Now that I think back we all needed passports back then so I’ll check mine when I get home. Did use your logic for now for the days.
        Thanks again.

  54. Marco DiBiagio says

    Gday Guys
    Did Butterworth December 81 to Febuary 82 . B company 1RAR
    Yes we had live rounds , spent time in the armscoat .
    I remember being taught to say stop or I will shoot in Malay .
    That’s enough to warrant the recognition .
    Regards DB

  55. Nairn Bristow-Smith says

    Have sent info to Robert Cross over the years.
    They said only Sgt. And above carried live ammo . Not True.
    I had a M16 pointed at my guts, live rds fired at me, 3 landing
    just inches from my boots and Tomo and I walked in on a CT meeting
    while on local leave. On top of this the Malays, Indians and Chinese
    were at each other and we were taught how to deal with them if need be.

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