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The Brunei Revolt 1962-1963 (Hardback)

Modern Warfare Colonial Warfare

By Nick Van der Bijl
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781848846401
Published: 5th December 2012



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In December 1962, nationalists in Brunei, the hugely wealthy small kingdom on the North Coast of Borneo, formed the Army of North Kalimantan (TNKU) and, demanding greater democracy, engineered a rebellion against the Sultan and seized a large number of hostages. Perceived to be an attempt by communists to destabilise the Sultanate and seize power, within twelve hours of its outbreak, British forces were despatched by ship and aircraft from Singapore to restore order, the first unit to arrive being 1/2nd Gurkhas, who entered the capital. Within the week, the 1 Queens Own Highlanders had recaptured the strategically important oilfields and occupied Seria, 42 Commando, Royal Marines attacked Limbang and 1 Green Jackets landed in west Brunei. The next six months were spent rounding up TNKU and, since there were major concerns that Indonesia could be behind the Revolt, the charismatic Major General Walter Walker, then commanding 17th Gurkha Division, was sent to Brunei to command operations. By mid-May 1963, the surviving TNKU had been captured. While rapidly suppressed, the Revolt was the catalyst for the three year Confrontation with Indonesia 1963-66.

Researched in great detail.

Soldier Magazine

Written by one of J Battery’s former forward observation officers, Richard Mountford, it provides a vivid picture of operations.

The times

The author joined the intelligence corps in 1970 and over the next twenty years saw service in many countries.

The Bulletin

This is very much a campaign narrative, and a detailed one at that. It strives to record the actions of all British units involved and rightly restores the narrative of actions such as that of the Queen's Own Highlanders at Seria. This book does a considerable service to post–1945 British Army history in generating a detailed campaign narrative of an overlooked campaign, and restores to attention the role of key individuals.

Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

Britain's military history in the second half of the twentieth century is littered with "bush fire wars" from the heat of the desert to the humidity of the jungle. One of the lesser known conflicts is the Brunei insurrection of 1962-63. Evidence that little has been written of this campaign is demonstrated in the book's bibliography runs to only five sources, including one of the author's own. Lack of sources has not prevented Nick van der Bijl from producing a very good study of the conflict.

The early chapters helpfully set the scene during and after WW2 and the political context of the region and the war in Malaya. This is not a balanced book in that there are precious few first-hand accounts from the TNKU. So the story is told largely from the British perspective which is covered in great depth. Nick van der Bijl has done well to research the activities of the various units involved, right down to platoon level - who was where and when.

Brunei is perhaps best known for the Royal Marines' assault on Limbang and the author makes good use of personal accounts of the dawn attack. The assault cost the Marines five dead, their largest loss in a single day between Korea and the Falklands. Four local personnel also lost their lives at Limbang. Other units are not ignored, and the roles of the Green Jackets and Queen's Own Highlanders feature prominently.

Anyone wanting to know what is behind the clasp "Brunei" on a Naval (for the Marines and Royal Navy) or General Service Medal should read this book. It is an essential companion to the DVD "Return to Limbang" which is also worth purchasing.

Peter Weedon

About Nick Van der Bijl

Nick van der Bijl served with distinction in the Intelligence Corps, particularly in the Falklands. He is now retired and working on security in the NHS.

He is the author of 6 books on 20th Century military history. He lives at Mark, Somerset.

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Limbang Rebellion Seven Days in December 1962 (Hardback)

In early December 1962 there was a surprise rebel uprising in northern Borneo. The leader of the anti-colonialist North Kalimantan National Army, Sheikh Azahari, mounted the insurrection that became known as the Brunei Revolt. It aimed to thwart Britain and Malaya's plan to combine the British territories of Borneo into a new Federation of Malaysia. The river town of Limbang, an administrative centre in the British colony of Sarawak, became the pivot of the rebellion that was to be the opening act of the military and diplomatic conflict known as 'Konfrontasi'. Combining eyewitness accounts with…

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