Left Butterworth for Taiping this morning and whilst riding along I reflected on the military history of Australians having been involved in this region - World War 2, The Malaysian confrontation, and Australian military involvement at Butterworth (post the Vietnam War).
Rifle Company Butterworth is an Australian Army infantry company based at RMAF Base Butterworth in Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia. Rifle Company Butterworth was established in 1973 to provide a protective and quick-reaction force for RAAF Base Butterworth during a resurgence of the Communist insurgency in Malaysia. While RAAF Base Butterworth was handed to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in 1988 and the insurgency officially ended in 1989, Rifle Company Butterworth has been maintained as a means of providing Australian soldiers with training in jungle warfare and cross-training with the Malaysian Army. The company is staffed on a rotational basis, with both Regular and Reserve personnel being deployed quarterly.
The Australian Army Reserve is a collective name given to the reserve units of the Australian Army. Since the Federation of Australia in 1901, the reserve military force has been known by many names, including the Citizens Forces, the Citizen Military Forces, the Militia and, unofficially, the Australian Military Forces. In 1980, however, the current name, Australian Army Reserve, was officially adopted and it now consists of a number of components based around the level of commitment and training obligation that its members are required to meet.
My father Pte. William Sams 2/26 Australian Infantry Battalion fought here in Malaysia against the Japanese in 1942, captured then sent to Changi prison as a POW and later sent to the infamous Thai Burma Death Railway along with my uncle, Pte.John Butt. I also served in Southern Malaysia (1975) in the same area where my father fought and reported captured, Jahor Bahru.
Recently the Australian Government repatriated the remains of 33 Vietnam Veterans from Terendak (Malaysia) and Kranji (Singapore) however, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (C.W.G.C) still maintain and have official records of our Australian MIAs and those listed still buried on foreign soil including Malaysia.
Penang is a small island off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula and is linked to the mainland by a toll bridge approximately two miles long. The cemetery is on Western Road (Jalan Western) off Jalan Macalister West, off Jalan Scotland.
The ten war graves - a mixture of Commission standard headstones and private memorials, are scattered around the site but the majority can be found to the right of the central drive, left of the right hand drive, approximately halfway up the cemetery. Two graves can be found to the left of the central drive approximately the same distance along. The non World War burials now in C.W.G.C. care are scattered throughout the cemetery, mainly in the central part. The Service Dependant's graves are buried in random locations in the cemetery. Penang (Western Road) Cemetery is open at all times.
There are 3 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war and 7 of the 1939-1945 war buried here. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission now care for 126 non World War service members.
The majority of the 36 Australian war dead from this conflict are buried in Malaysia at the Kamunting Road Christian Cemetery, Taiping, West Malaysia. Several are buried at Western Road Christian Cemetery, Penang, and one lies at Terendak Military Cemetery Malaysia. A small number are buried at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.
The Terendak Military Cemetery in Malaysia also contains a Memorial to the Missing on which those with no known grave are commemorated. Contact the Australian High Commission Malaysia for further information on visiting these sites.
More on Malaysia on the long ride home as Matt Brown and I continue further South.
Truck and Matt
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