From Hansard Page: 5864
Monday, 16 June 2014
Rifle Company Butterworth
Dear Dr Jensen
Thank you for your letter of 3 March 2014 to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson regarding a petition seeking a review to enable reclassification of service by Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) 1970 – 1989. As this matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities, your correspondence has been passed to me for response.
The program for rotating an infantry rifle company to Butterworth was implemented on 15 November 1970 by the Australian, New Zealand and British Battalions located in Singapore. After September 1973, a company group was provided from an Australian-based battalion. It was around January 1980, that the infantry rifle company located at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Butterworth on rotation assumed the title of Australian Army Rifle Company Butterworth, it became known as Rifle Company Butterworth in 1987.
In preparing a response to the petition, a senior research officer reviewed previous Department of Defence reviews, and extended the research previously undertaken and re-examined all submissions from claimants. The research officer conducted a thorough examination of available official documentation held at the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia.
This encompassed ‘Open’, ‘Closed’ and Not Yet Examined’ documents and Defence records. These Defence records included:
RAAF Base Butterworth’s Commanding Officer Reports;
RAAF Unit History Records; and
Commanders’ diaries for those Australian battalions, which provided infantry companies for the rotation.
Information freely available on the internet, in published books and journals, Australian Parliament Hansard, and the recently published New Zealand Government Joint Working Group Report on Service in South-East Asia 1950-2011 was also reviewed.
The Government and Defence documents from the period clearly indicate the roles of the infantry company were to:
provide a ground force presence in Malaysia;
to conduct training;
to assist in the security of RAAF Butterworth if required; and
to provide a quick reaction force if required.
The infantry rifle company was not to be involved in local civil disturbances or to be employed in operations outside the gazetted area of the air base. Rules of Engagement and Orders for Opening Fire for the company, and also for the RAAF personnel who had primary responsibility for internal base security, were defensive in nature and to be applied within the air base only. In the event of a security emergency being declared, the infantry rifle company was to assist with the protection of facilities, personnel and families under the direction of the Officer Commanding RAAF Butterworth.
No documented evidence has identified the infantry rifle company was ever required in an emergency ground defence capacity, other than for exercise purposes. The Air Force History Unit advises there is no record of any ground defence emergency occurring. The brief history of the Royal Australian Regiment battalions (which provided rifle companies on rotation) records no events of significance, or noteworthy activity from a battalion historical perspective of the service of the companies which rotated through Butterworth.
The petition posits the RCB served during the period of a Second Malaysian Emergency. While some authors have referred to the activities of the Communist Party of Malaysia during this period as a ‘Second Emergency’, this title appears to have been applied retrospectively. It is not reflected in any official history records of Malaysia. The Malaysian Government did not declare this period to be an emergency.
While Australian forces remained in Malaysia following the Confrontation ceasefire on 11 August 1966, the Malaysian Government made no further requests for assistance in security operations. Accordingly, Australian forces were not engaged in any operations against hostile forces or dissident elements.
Therefore, it is considered that the level of risk associated with Australian Defence Force service at Butterworth from 1966 (post-Confrontation) does not justify a warlike classification. The RCB service is appropriately classified as peacetime service.
Since 2006, the Department of Defence has responded to 33 submissions to Government seeking reclassification of RCB service from 12 separate claimants, a number of whom served with an infantry company on rotation through Butterworth. The Nature of Service Directorate has responded to only one claim for reclassification of service at Butterworth from an ex-member of the RAAF.
The previous submissions have generally relied on the research conducted by one or two individuals. Defence has examined all claims made in the submissions and sought to validate the evidence provided. However, Defence assesses the information contained in the submissions to be selective and subjective. The submissions demonstrate a flawed understanding of the legislation, of the policies and processes governing overseas deployments and of Defence terminology.
This is understandable as most of the claimants were junior in rank at the time of their respective deployments, many having only recently completed basic training. Defence contends that to ensure training conducted at Butterworth was as realistic as possible, the likelihood of hostile action may well have been overstated to the soldiers and this could explain the misconceptions about the role of the infantry company and the hazards faced.
The peacetime classification of RCB service is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Finance and Deregulation. It is consistent with independent Australian and New Zealand reviews and inquiries, namely:
the Committee of Inquiry into Defence and Defence Related Awards (1993);
the Review of Service Entitlement Anomalies in Respect of South-East Asian Service (the Mohr Report dated 1999);
the Review of Veterans ‘ Entitlements (Clarke Report dated 2003);
the Inquiry into Recognition for Members ofRifle Company Butterworth for Service in Malaysia between 1970 and 1989 (by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal dated 2011); and
the Final Report by The Medallic Recognition Joint Working Group (JWG) on Service in South-East Asia 1950-2011 (sponsored by the New Zealand Government and dated 2013).
A background paper is enclosed which provides a comprehensive overview of RCB service for the consideration of the Committee.
from the Assistant Minister for Defence, Mr Stuart Robert
Copies of the background paper can be obtained from the Petitions Committee.
March 2014 Update
Mike Dennis wrote “See below, the outstanding document and study on the RCB situation by Ken Marsh ex RAAF.
Ken has done a fantastic job in bringing together history, policy facts, political facts, intelligence summaries and highlights Defences faulty and prejudiced responses. When read in conjunction with the Intelligence summaries highlighted in the second dropbox it becomes even clearer. Well done Ken!”
February 2014 Update
Study by Ken Marsh Butterworth – not normal peacetime service modified referencing
January 2014 Updates
Please view this newspaper clipping
This has an impact upon RAR members who received AASM SE Asia and subsequently
served in RCB. Appeals Tribunal – Decision under review
December Update Immediately Below
You can access the reports via Dropbox at:
November Updates Immediately Below
Please view this covering document provided by Mike Dennis: NEW RCB EVIDENCE WHICH PROVES DEFENCE UNTRUTHS
You can read the entire nearly 180 pages by accessing this Dropbox – after opening, press download on top right hand then click on the documents to increase their size : https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0g3s5gs0qvao7k0/UTiifmNoLc
Dear RCB Supporters, Please see attached copies of archived files (which Air Force and Defence said they could not find), which clearly shows concerns and threats from CT’s as well as the dissatisfaction by RAAF of the initial RCB command arrangements when supplied by 28 ANZUK Bde.
This led to the implementation of rotated RCB from Australia under command CO RAAF Base. We are going to get the further files from this one up to 1976 which will show a further increase in the threat and hopefully the minute from the CDF in 1975 detailing a concerning increase in the threat at RCB.
This proves the assertion that the Defence submissions to Ministers and DHAAT is pack of prejudiced lies aimed at depriving soldiers of recognition and entitlements.
I must particularly thank supporter John Hunt for finding these documents and his investigations into his circumstances detailed elsewhere on the website. Well done John.
October Updates Immediately Below
NEW Letter from John Hunt to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, read it here Malay -Thailand Border patrols 1969 to 1971-v2
A letter to the then Parliamentary Secretary For Defence. Senator the Hon. David Feeney. Written by M. Dennis MBE Lt Col [Retd] Click this Link To Read The Letter
Also a letter from Senator the Honourable Michael Ronaldson, former Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs IMG copy Mike Dennis has provided comment to this letter.
Forty pages of new RCB Info (please click on the photo to increase its size);
SUNDAY, JANUARY 6, 2013 Service at Butterworth Air Base 1970 – 1989 in Context Prepared in Support of the RCB Claim for Recognition of Service Posted by Ken Marsh (Swampy) at 8:34 PM
1. RCB on January 8, 2013 at 11:52 am said: You may want to check this out:
You can read Ken’s article in PDF format here Ken on Butterworth