Bendigo veterans welcome commemoration

A SERVICE was held at Bendigo RSL yesterday to honour Malaya and Borneo veterans who fought in the little-known conflicts.

The commemoration of Australia’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation coincides with Merdeka Day, Malaysia’s celebration of independence.

Guest speaker Marg Hogan talked about her father’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency.

“He fought in one of the most ferocious battles fought in Australian military history, just not many people know about it.”

Australian troops fought in Malaya and Borneo from 1939 until 1970.

Bendigo’s Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association secretary Greta Balsillie said the conflicts were not well known because the word “war” was not in the titles.

“Often the Malayan and Borneo wars are missed out (and) little is mentioned about those who fought those fierce battles,” she said. 

“They don’t have the name “war” attached to them and there wasn’t any controversy surrounding Malaya and Borneo like there was with Vietnam.”

Mrs Balsillie said the association raises $1534 annually to the Gurkha Welfare Trust to support war veterans in Nepal.

It was important to support the Gurkha veterans who fought alongside Australian troops in Malaya and Borneo as they did not receive the benefits, she said.

“They do not receive the benefits that Australian servicemen do.” 

Major John Balsillie, who fought for three years in the Malaya Emergency from 1959 and 1961, attended the service. He said he was pleased the conflicts have an official day of recognition.

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