Introduction to Australia’s SIGINT contribution to the Malayan Emergency, 1952 to 1962

The Malayan Emergency commenced as a result of the Malayan Communist Party insurgency against the British colonial government. Australian military involvement commenced in 1950 and continued with anti-insurgency operations in Malaya until 1963.

In 1952 a detachment of Australian Army Signals Operators from 101 Wireless Regiment was deployed to the British Far East Station in Singapore. This detachment, consisting of one Officer and eight Other Ranks, was deployed to assist the search for Malayan Communist transmissions.

By May 1955 Army had 30 operators in Singapore/Malaya and Air Force had 20 operators in Labuan. 1956 saw six operators detached from Singapore to Malaya to search for and collect Malayan Communist Party communications.

In 1959 the detachment increased to 13 and transferred to Batu Uban on Penang Island, where they remained until the site was closed in 1962.

Malayan Emergency - soldiers patrolling jungle - AWM HOB/56/0495/MC
2RAR soldiers on jungle patrol (courtesy Australian War Memorial HOB/56/0495/MC)
Malayan Emergency - SGT Jock Richardson and platoon exiting truck - AWM HOB/56/0749/MC
SGT Jock Richardson MM and platoon exiting armoured truck (courtesy Australian War Memorial HOB/56/0749/MC)