Battle rages for Diggers – RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…

ON the night of December 7-8 1941, Japanese forces began invading Malaya, hours before the attack on US territory Pearl Harbour,
Australia’s first casualties on December 8 were the crews of two 1Sqn RAAF Hudson bombers from six aircraft dispatched to bomb Japan’s invasion fleet.
When Japanese aircraft attacked Butterworth, some RAAF Buffaloes were in the air and tried to intercept, but they were an inadequate match for the speedy Japanese fighters.
The ADF has maintained a long relationship with Butterworth, through the first Malayan Emergency 1950-1960, Confrontation, Vietnam and the second Malaysian Emergency (Counter Insurgency War 1969-1989) to the present day.
From 1958 to 1988 the airfield was an Australian military asset, known formally as RAAF Butterworth.
From 1970 an Australian Army infantry company has been deployed to Butterworth, though successive Australian governments have employed various subterfuges to camouflage their real role.
Although the deployment was officially described as training with Malaysian forces, its actual, formally denied role was to be a ready reaction force to defend, if required, the RAAF assets including Mirage fighters based there.
There is no doubt until 1989 there was a real threat to Australian personnel and assets based at Butterworth, nor that RCB was established and armed to react to that threat should it eventuate.
Yet successive Australian governments have consistently refused to recognise RCB service as warlike, and concede appropriate veteran benefits to those who served in that period.
The RCB veterans lobby group, have gathered a massive database of previously classified material which indubitably supports their claims for recognition.
They will not rest until they clear the fog of bureaucratic and political obfuscation which continues to deny their evidence.


Note a correction to the article: Robert Cross is the RCB’s veterans lobby group (RCB Review Group) leader of which Ted Chitham (past CO 8/9 RAR 1974-1976) is a member.

“RCB veterans have not surrendered nor will they…” Ross Eastgate


  1. Well said Macka. I was embarrassed to get an ASM for a piss ex at RCB, yet these fellas are dreaming of something that wasn’t there. It cheapens our rightly earned AASM from current wars.

  2. I have been on warlike operations, I have been on non warlike operations, and I have been to Butterworth. I think you are discrediting real combat veterans by claiming you have been exposed to the same circumstances as them.
    Be happy that you got an ASM and leave it alone.
    It is insulting to think you were once in the same regiment, admiring the same battle honours as me.

  3. Robert Davis says

    There is an event at the War Memorial Canberra On the evening of 10 November, ‘Beam of Light’ from the Memorial to Parliament House with the symbolism that politician should not forget vets.
    Camp out on the lawn with some signs.

  4. Crackles says

    You are drawing a long bow with all of this to say the least. I think it is pretty poor form to lead the article with WW 2 happenings to make your peacetime/non-warlike exploits sound more dangerous.
    I have been to a number of warzones, and I have been to RCB, I know which was warlike and which was non warlike.
    I understand that some of you missed out during the whole “peacetime period”, but chasing after this is a bit unsavory in my opinion.

  5. Russell Linwood says

    As one of the researchers in the RCB Review Group, I can verify that the data already held, and repeatedly presented to both sides of Government over the years proves beyond doubt that the service by RCBs in the period 1970-1989 was warlike, not peacetime, as claimed by Government as part of their deception. The tragic issue is WHY does this farce persist? Full marks to journalists such as Ross, who has no vested interest or benefit to gain, for assisting to bring this matter to the public domain. Our veteran colleagues who served at Butterworth deserve their rightful entitlements, not to be told their service was ‘peacetime training’. We know; we were there. We had a clear mission and we implemented it, even though governments (admittedly a broad generalisation given many individual members support the truth) are want to deceive our own people over it. Why, is the question. Shame on those who continue to deny the legitimate claims of the RCB veterans.