- Views 0
- Likes 0
|Australia New Zealand United Kingdom|
Australia New Zealand United Kingdom
Before ANZUK Force was the 3 power 28 ANZUK Brigade which started in 1969 thereby preceding ANZUK Force. It grew out of the remains of the old 5 power 28th (Independent) Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group. 1 RAR was the first Australian Battalion to serve with ANZUK.
|Unlike the other two services the air force was mainly concentrated in Malaysia at Butterworth where Nos. 3 and 75 Squadrons RAAF (Mirages) and some RAAF Dakotas were based. A flight of Mirages was regularly deployed to Tengah from Butterworth. Also at Tengah were RAF Shackletons ( replaced by Nimrods) Whirlwind helicopters of 103 Squadron RAF and Bristol freighters and Iroquois helicopters of 41 Squadron RNZAF.|
|This formation comprised 24 integrated units providing all Army logistic support requirements, and common support for all other services in Singapore. Two ANZUK Bases were located at Woodlands and Sembawang to cater for the support requirements of these areas.|
“What was ANZUK?”
ANZUK Force may not have been very large, but it was a complex organization and underwent quite a few changes in its brief history. The idea of ANZUK Force came from the politicians and the diplomats. The British had maintained a presence in Singapore and Malaya for many years, and with the coming of the Japanese during the Second World War they were joined by Australian troops. After the world war another more protracted war began—this time against the communist terrorists—and British, Australian, and New Zealand servicemen joined together to fight the CTs in the jungle.
At this time Britain was committed to provide defence assistance to Malaysia and Singapore under the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement of 1957 with which Australia and New Zealand were associated. As the insurgency and the “confrontation” between Indonesia and the newly formed Malaysian State tapered off it was obvious that Britain would reduce the numbers of troops stationed here. The British Parliamentary Labour Party began talking about cuts in 1966, then, in July 1967, the Labour Government announced substantial reductions. Of the 80,000 men and women working for and in the services east of Suez in 1967 only 40,000 uniformed and civilian men and women were to remain after 1970/71.
This decision was not really surprising, but what did shock people was the announcement in January 1968 that Britain would withdraw completely by 1971. This immediately posed the familiar question “What will happen when the British go?” The first tentative steps towards finding an answer were taken by the politicians and diplomats at a Five Power (Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the UK) Conference in Kuala Lumpur in June 1968 at which the Malaysian Prime Minister proposed that control and maintenance of the British bases become a joint Five Power responsibility after 1971. Although this suggestion came to nothing the British Conservative Party eventually decided to oppose the Labour policy of withdrawal, and Mr Heath began talking about a “new and equal partnership, between five Commonwealth governments”.
In 1970, during “Exercise Bersatu Padu”, an election occurred in Britain which returned the Conservative Party to power. This led to a series of meetings which resulted in an announcement on 16 February 1971 that Australian, New Zealand and British troops would remain in Singapore and Malaysia under an Australian commander of “two star” rank.
This was the 3 power 28 ANZUK Brigade which started in 1969 thereby preceding ANZUK Force. It grew out of the remains of the old 5 power 28th (Independent) Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group. 1 RAR was the first Australian Battalion to serve with ANZUK.
The era during which Britain assumed prime responsibility for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore was fast coming to an end. AMDA was to be replaced by the Five Power Defence Arrangements under which Singapore and Malaysia were acknowledged to be responsible for their own defence, and Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. agreed that “In the event of any form of armed attack externally organised or supported, or the threat of such an attack against Malaysia or Singapore the Governments would immediately consult together for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in relation to such attack or threat”.
Singapore. 1972-03. The Royal Pennant tops the flags of the three nations of the ANZUK Force, as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip review a parade of the ANZUK Force during their one-day visit to Singapore. Slouch-hatted Diggers from the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), are pictured being inspected by the Royal couple.
7,500 MEN AND WOMEN MADE ANZUK
ANZUK Force was primarily 7,500 personnel from the three services of three nations serving in Singapore, Malaysia, and on the high seas. The Force was supported by about 4,750 locally employed civilians.
ANZUK was not large compared with the peak of the British presence in the area of about 70,000 service personnel and civilians. On the other hand our job was somewhat different. Stripped of diplomatic jargon ANZUK’s main task was simply to be there. It was not to fight the CTs, nor was it likely that we would be called on to fight any one else. Our governments and the governments of Singapore and Malaysia considered that simply by being here we would forestall the possibility of anyone upsetting the political and military balance in the Malay Peninsula.
This would help the governments of Singapore and Malaysia to get on with the job of developing their economies, and building up their armed forces. Another task was to work with the Singaporean and Malaysian Armed Forces to help them to improve their expertise, but this was not their main role.
An aspect of ANZUK which many people found difficult to understand was the fact that it is not an international
organisation, like NATO, to which governments belong. ANZUK was merely a shorthand name for the forces of Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. which, for the sake of convenience, our three governments had decided to place under the one commander, and to support through an integrated, tri-national logistics organisation.
When ANZUK officially came into being on 1 November 1971 the first Force Commander, Rear Admiral David Wells, RAN, had under command the following major units:
o two RN frigates,
o RAN and RNZN frigates and an
o RN or RAN submarine.
* 28th ANZUK Brigade:
o 6 RAR,
o 1 RNZIR, and
o 1 RHF,
o two field batteries of artillery comprising 28th ANZUK Field Regiment,
o engineer support in the form of 28th ANZUK Field Squadron,
o a squadron of light helicopters, and
* Air Force: Unlike the other two services the air force was mainly concentrated in Malaysia at Butterworth where Nos. 3 and 75 Squadrons RAAF (Mirages) and some RAAF Dakotas were based.
o A flight of Mirages was regularly deployed to Tengah from Butterworth. Also at Tengah were
o RAF Shackletons (soon to be replaced by Nimrods)
o Whirlwind (later Wessex) helicopters of 103 Squadron RAF and Bristol freighters and Iroquois helicopters of 41 Squadron RNZAF.
* ANZUK Support Group: This formation comprised 24 integrated units providing all Army logistic support requirements, and common support for all other services in Singapore. Two ANZUK Bases were located at Woodlands and Sembawang to cater for the support requirements of these areas.
* Force Units: The main Force unit was
o 9 ANZUK Signal Regiment which provided internal and external military communications.
o ATMA, the ANZUK Traffic Management Agency,
o the ANZUK Intelligence and Security Unit, and
o 65 Ground Liaison Section were also Force units.
The hallmark of ANZUK was integration. The only major units which were not integrated were the three infantry battalions. 9 ANZUK Signal Regiment was undoubtedly the most integrated unit with men and women from the nine ANZUK services, Singaporean and Malaysian servicemen, and civilians in its employ.
ANZUK Force could not have existed without its large civilian component. In Singapore we employed one civilian for every two servicemen and at Butterworth the ratio was almost one for one. Most of the civilians were locally employed Singaporeans and Malaysians doing a multitude of jobs ranging from the Installations Auxiliary Police Force and technicians to clerks, typists, drivers, mess staff and gardeners.
There was also an important ex-patriate civilian element the Defence Administrative Office, and the three national civilian administrative elements— the Australian Deputy Assistant Secretary’s office, the New Zealand Administrative Support Element, and the UK Joint Command Secretariat. These organizations dealt mainly with the financial administration of the Force and national units and the administration of the locally employed civilians.
And last, but not least, there were more than 10,000 dependants. In Singapore married quarters were located in places as far flung as the Naval Base in the north, the southern estates in the Pasir Panjang area, and Changi in the east. At Butterworth families lived in the vicinity of the base on the mainland, and on Penang Island. ANZUK service personnel formed, without much doubt, the biggest expatriate community in Singapore and our spending power, although vastly reduced from the heyday of the British presence, was large enough to warrant mention in the Singapore Government’s budget. Numerous schools, including two high schools, two hospitals, medical centres and dental surgeries, two radio stations, libraries, NAAFI shops, and extensive sporting facilities were provided to support the ANZUK community.
EXERCISES AND EXCURSIONS…
If you ask the question “What did ANZUK achieve?”, with reference to our primary objective of promoting the “stability and confidence” of the area, it is very hard to answer. All we can do is point to the fact that over the three years of ANZUK’s existence Singapore and Malaysia remained secure from outside military threats, and the economies of both countries have continued to expand.
But if you ask the more general question ~What did ANZUK do?’ there are a multitude of answers. Firstly we did what all peace time armies, navies, and air forces do we exercised. But here we often exercised somewhat differently. The navy and the air forces often exercised with Singaporean and Malaysian forces. This not only helped our allies to improve their military skills, but it enabled us to get to know each other better. Of course the “getting-to-know-you” process and the interchange of ideas was even more noticeable among the forces of the three ANZUK nations as we worked together almost every day. Also, ANZUK exercises were often planned to include a lot of inter-service co-operation, and consequently the standard of inter-service co-operation reached quite a high level.
It is not possible to list all the exercises in which ANZUK units participated, but as the major exercises represented the culmination of months of training on a smaller scale the figures for major exercises give an indication of the wide extent of the training programme. During the life of the Force ANZUK assigned ships participated in 16 major “Five Power” exercises, ground forces participated in 28, and (including IADS exercises) ANZUK assigned aircraft also participated in 28.
But ANZUK was far from being all work and no play, and most of us will remember what we did off-duty far longer than the jungle bashing. Many ANZUK service personnel and their wives worked quietly and generously for a variety of charitable organizations. No one could calculate the value of the voluntary work, and the gifts in cash and kind but it was considerable. Even the school children made their contributions, the most novel being a “sponsored silence for charity” during which members of the Chip Bee Youth Club raised $45O~- by keeping quiet for 24 hours.
Many of us sampled the local culture. Tae kwon do flourished in the Base Transport Unit, and untold numbers of wives learned Chinese cooking, mah-jong, how to carve flowers out of vegetables or how to sew them from pieces of Thai silk. Some took Malay classes.
Shopping excursions to Transit Road, Changi village, Jalan Kayu or Holland village; eating excursions at makan stalls, coffee houses, noisy Chinese restaurants and plush hotels; holidays to the “Bali Hai” islands off Mersing, Batu Ferringhi, or historic Malacca, day trips to Sentosa (or Blakan Mati if you were here in the old days), the bird park, or a crocodile farm; new friendships with people who spoke English with a funny accent (or people who hardly spoke English at all)…. These aspects of ANZUK were just as important as the work we did. All of us who served with the Force have had our lives enriched by the time we spent in Singapore and Malaysia.
When ANZUK was established our Governments did not expect it to last forever. However the end came a lot quicker than some of us had hoped and initially expected. The first Force Commander, Rear Admiral Wells, had a task which must be unique: in little over two years he first established the Force then, with the establishment phase barely complete, he was directed to plan the run-down phase which his successor, Air-Vice-Marshal Wakeford, was to execute.
The decision to disband ANZUK, like the decision to establish it, was primarily due to an election. In this case however the election was in Australia not the U.K. When the new Australian Government set a ceiling of 600 Australian servicemen in Singapore by 28 February 1974, and no more than 150 by April 1975 it was quite obvious that ANZUK could not continue to exist in its original form. Many Australians were needed to keep the integrated logistics systems functioning and without that there would not be much point in having an integrated command.
So the New Zealand Government established on 30 January 1974 NZ Force S.E. Asia which took under command all the New Zealand units formerly part of ANZUK. The British units remained under ANZUK, but preparations were put in hand for Britain also to “go national”. The integrated units which made up the ANZUK Support Group were gradually disbanded during 1974 and replaced by national units. ANZUK was visibly fading away.
On 16 December the Naval and Air HQs disbanded and the ships and aircraft assigned to them reverted to national command. 28 (UK) Inf Bde, which succeeded 28 ANZUK Bde in January that year, came under national command on this date.