When the world held its breath It is 25 years since the end of the Cold War, w a generation old. It began over 75 years ago, in 1944 long before the last shots of the Second World War had echoed across the wastelands of Eastern Europe with the brutal Greek Civil War. The battle lines are longer drawn, but they linger on, unwittingly or t, in conflict zones such as Iraq, Somalia and Ukraine. In an era of mass-produced AK-47s and ICBMs, one such flashpoint was Malaya By the time of the 1942 Japanese occupation of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore, the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) had already been fomenting merdeka independence from Britain. The Japanese conquerors, however, were also the loathsome enemies of the MCP s ideological brothers in China. An alliance of convenience with the British was the outcome. Britain armed and trained the MCP s military wing, the Malayan People s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), to essentially wage jungle guerrilla warfare against Japanese occupying forces.With the cessation of hostilities, anti-Japanese became anti-British, and, using the same weapons and training fortuitously provided by the British army during the war, the MCP launched a guerrilla war of insurgency. Malaya was of significant strategic and ecomic importance to Britain. In the face of an emerging communist regime in China, a British presence in Southeast Asia was imperative. Equally, rubber and tin, largely produced in Malaya by British expatriates, were important inputs for British industry. Typically, the insurgents, dubbed Communist Terrorists, or simply CTs, went about attacking soft targets in remote areas: the rubber plantations and tin mines. In conjunction with this, was the implementation of Mao s dictate of subverting the rural, largely peasant, population to the cause. Twelve years of counter-insurgency operations ensued, as a wide range of British forces were joined in the conflict by ground, air and sea units from Australia, New Zealand, Southern and Northern Rhodesia, Fiji and Nyasaland.
Gerry van Tonder was born in Zimbabwe and came to Britain in 1999. He is a full-time historian and a published author. Specializing in military history, Gerry has authored Rhodesian Combined Forces Roll of Honour, 1966 1981; Book of Remembrance: Rhodesia Native Regiment and Rhodesian African Rifles; North of the Red Line (South African Defence Force s border war), and the co-authored definitive Rhodesia Regiment, 1899 1981, a copy of which he presented to the regiment s former colonel-in-chief, Her Majesty the Queen. Gerry has also written on British local history, including Derby in 50 Buildings, Chesterfield s Military Heritage and Mansfield Through Time. He recently started with a series of Cold War titles and Echoes of the Coventry Blitz.