Stories Behind The Photos

Borneo Patrol

This picture was taken in the then named Sarawak which is now part of Malaysia. It was during the time that Indonesia has designs on that part of the world trying to make the whole of the Borneo Island Indonesian.

The ‘Confrontation’ between Malaysia and Indonesia in Borneo – the war against Indonesian raids across a 900-mile border – eventually involved nearly 20,000 British and Commonwealth troops, with air and naval support; and yet, by mutual consent, astonishingly little was reported at the time. This ‘secret war’ saw the perfection of SAS jungle tactics and audacious secret missions deep inside enemy territory, including the award to a Gurkha soldier of the British Army’s only ‘living VC’ for 40 years.

This picture was supposed to show a patrol along the border. Such patrols lasted about a week and after the time the jungle had taken its toll on the uniforms, ripping away parts of the fabric.

In fact no patrol would be so close together as they could be wiped out with one burst of machine gun fire. But I had to close them up for the purpose of the picture.

The handy palm fond on the left hand side was in fact held my journalist friend, Bernard Long, as we couldn’t quite find one in the right place.