Richard McDonough
Tuesday 19 June 2018

The Brunei Revolt and Indonesian Confrontation had their origins in Indonesian opposition to the creation of the Federation of Malaysia and their own plans for a Greater Indonesia.

The Federation of Malaysia aimed to unite the mainly Malay-populated states of the Malayan Peninsula with the former British colonies of SingaporeBruneiSarawak and North Borneo. In order to destabilise the process, Indonesian President Sukarno actively supported The North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU) in their aim of overthrowing the Sultan of Brunei and uniting the whole of Borneo under Indonesian rule.

Photographs

The Indonesian Confrontation

Photographs

The Indonesian Confrontation

While operating in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation, a soldier is winched up to a Westland Wessex HAS3 of 845 Naval Air Squadron, during operations in the jungle. A soldier is kneeling on the edge of the extraction zone

In 1962, the TNKU made a bid to seize power by armed revolt. It seized the town of Limbang and attacking a number of police stations and government facilities across the country. Britain reacted quickly to this threat to its former colony. It sent  1/2nd Battalion Gurkha Riffles Regiment and Queen's Own Highlanders to re-capture strategic points in Brunei and Seria and rescue a number of hostages taken by the TNKU. 42 Commando Royal Marines followed up by assaulting Limbang, re-capturing the rebel-held police station and releasing a second group of hostages. Over 3,400 rebels were captured during these actions. The remaining few fled into the jungle, effectively ending the rebellion.

Photographs

Queen's Own Highlanders, The Jungle of Brunei

Photographs

Queen's Own Highlanders, The Jungle of Brunei

A patrol of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) searches for rebels in the jungle of Brunei, during the Indonesian Confrontation.

Following the revolt, Indonesian troops started to cross into Sarawak, Sabah and Tawal (Tawau) in North Borneo in order to occupy the sparsely populated border region. By 1964 this had escalated into what President Sukarno called the 'Indonesian-Malaysia Confrontation'. Essentially a limited form of warfare, it involved both British and Indonesian forces attempting to gain control of the border area with fighting usually consisting of clashes between patrols on either side. By 1965 British tactics included Claret operations, with patrols secretly infiltrating across the Indonesian border to attack any large groups of troops massing there and ambushing their supply routes.

The Confrontation fizzled out during 1966 when President Sukarno was overthrown by a coup and Indonesian forces were withdrawn from the border area. The removal of Sukarno also saw the end to Indonesian claims for Federation of Malaysia territory and relations between the two countries have remained stable since then. 

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