Australian Cold War Warriors – The Secret Aussie History of the Second Malaysian Confrontation (Counter Insurgency War)

The author, aged 19, Christmas 1977, RCB Malaysia

This is the personal account of Private Sean Arthur’s experience as a Rifleman at RCB in 5 Platoon, Bravo Company 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) in 1977.

It’s kind of strange to think that an important and significant part of your own personal military history is based upon a lie.

It’s not my personal lie, it’s way bigger than anything I could come up with myself. This lie encompasses 50 years and involves every single government that Australia has had in that time. Even more astounding is the fact that the lie was openly discussed in government and military circles at the very beginning and that the real information is pretty much available for anyone to read today. The lie is part of Australia’s strategic and political history and the only ones directly affected by it today are the nine thousand Australian servicemen who participated in the Second Malayan Emergency against communist insurgents from 1972 to 1989.

Ours was not an actual shooting war, but our involvement was essential to keeping the insurgency down to a manageable level. If we had not been there protecting essential military aircraft, personal and other military assets the chances were almost certain that the Butterworth Airbase in Northern Malaysia would have been an irresistible target for the insurgents. If the airbase had been attacked, even once, and lives or materiel destroyed it would have had an incalculable effect to the security of Australia. It would also have given new life to the defunct geopolitical “domino theory” of the 1960s. The domino theory was the deep-rooted concept that every country in Southeast Asia would topple towards communism unless the West involved themselves more significantly in that hemisphere militarily.



  1. Disappointing to read that RCB was insignificant. I agree with Les long. Dont confuse service,
    and wearing the uniform with postings. Like many others, I did my duty during two tours. Dont belittle my service and I will not belittle yours.

  2. Like thousands of other Oz grunts I served in both the real ‘Konfrontasi’ & the real War in SVN…
    I married a Malaysian girl in ‘68 and we’re still married today, I’ve been returning to Malaysia regularly ever since…
    To compare the the ‘storm in a teacup’ that Pte Arthur and other RCB riflemen experienced at Butterworth is patently ridiculous, did they see their mates get blown apart, shot, dismembered, villages burnt and mass civilian murder??
    I think not, we were grunts fighting a war on behalf of our country finis!!

    • So what you’re saying is that any other soldiers weren’t needed and were useless to the country I don’t think so . I was at RCB twice and was very proud to represent my country