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Australia’s Involvement in the Cold War — Korea, Malaya, Malaysia and Vietnam

Part of the Australia’s Military History For Dummies Cheat Sheet

As a member of the Western Alliance, Australia fought in two of the biggest conflicts of the Cold War — the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Australian forces also supported Britain in Malaya and assisted Britain and Malaysia against Indonesia.

  • Korean War, 1950‒53. Australia sent contingents from the three services to fight with the United Nations in Korea. Most of the UN force was American, but with contingents from other countries. The 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) served from September 1951 to July 1953. Significant battles were Kapyong (April 1951) and Maryan San (October 1951).

  • Malaya, 1950‒60. Australia sent units from the three services to assist Britain and the Malayan Government fight Communist Terrorists in the Malayan Emergency. Australian battalions served on rotation for periods of two years beginning in 1955. There were no major battles and only a few ambushes and patrol clashes.

  • Malaysia, 1965‒66. Australian forces assisted Britain and Malaysia in countering Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia. Two Australian battalions, two Special Air Service (SAS) squadrons and several engineer squadrons served in Borneo. There were several deadly ambushes and patrol clashes, but no major battles.

  • South Vietnam, 1962‒72. Australian forces assisted South Vietnam and the United States in the Vietnam War. In 1962 Australia sent army advisers. In 1965 a battalion was deployed. The following year this battalion was replaced by a task force with two and later three battalions operating in Phuoc Tuy Province. The RAAF sent helicopters, Canberra Bombers and Caribou transport aircraft. The RAN generally had a ship operating offshore. Major battles were Long Tan (August 1966), Coral‒Balmoral (May 1968) and Binh Ba (June 1969).

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