It was an imperial conflict

Some wars really do need to be fought. Others don't

I cannot speak for other veterans, but as a former British Commando who served in Burma, I found  Mr. Ribbins’ John-Wayne-like tale from the jungles of Malaya (“I got him through the head…it was marvelous.”) repugnant.

Unlike most of us who couldn’t wait to get back to our homes and loved ones, for RAF pilot Ribbins, the party apparently ended too soon.

So, he joined the London Met Police for awhile but it wasn’t long before adventure called him thousands of miles away to Malaya where the British Empire was struggling to keep control over their patchwork of Colonies that comprised the Peninsula.

This 1948 conflict was about control,  not of oil — but of rubber.

And the British rubber plantation owners were not about to relinquish it to the Communist guerillas who, by the way,  had just finished fighting with the British to fend off  the marauding Japanese.

Britain did not declare war, as the plantation owners were not insured for loss due to war, so the conflict was officially called “police work,” during which the British “police” dropped 545,000 tons of bombs, killing more than 3,000 civilians.

They set the village of Batang Kali on fire and slaughtered 24 unarmed Chinese inhabitants. The Brits interned 34,000 people, sprayed hundreds of acres with defoliant and employed the services of head hunters from Borneo to bring in the heads of guerrillas — no trophy photos permitted, thank you.

There are no good wars and very few necessary ones.  May those who fought in the necessary ones be “Always Remembered.”

Laurence E. Wayman

 

Qualicum Beach

 

 

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