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12 Indonesia-Malaysia combats during Konfrontasi you should know

Also known as Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation was an undeclared war with most of the battles happening between Kalimantan (Indonesia) and East Malaysia.

The confrontation was a result from Indonesia’s opposition to the creation of Malaysia.

Initially, Indonesian attacks on East Malaysia comprised of local volunteers trained by the Indonesian Army.

Over a period of time, the intrusions became more organised with involvement of Indonesian forces.

On the Malaysian side, the British provided help to Malaysian forces with periodic contributions from Australian and New Zealand forces.

The intensity of the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation eventually subsided after the 30 September Movement when six Indonesian Army generals were assassinated.

Indonesia formally recognised Malaysia when a final peace agreement was signed on Aug 11, 1966.

Still, many lives were lost on both sides with combats happening in small-sized operations.

Here are at least 12 Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation combats you should know about:
While operating in Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation, a soldier is winched up to a Westland Wessex HAS3 of 845 Naval Air Squadron, during operations in the jungle. Another soldier is kneeling on the edge of the extraction zone. Credit: Public Domain.
1.Attack on Tebedu police station

The first infiltration and attack as part of Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation was recorded in April 1963.

On Apr 12, 1963, an Indonesian force attacked and seized Tebedu police station. Although Malaysia was not formed yet, the Malaysian government considered this as the first military attack on the-then future East Malaysia.

The raid, which happened on Good Friday that year, caused the death of a corporal and two wounded soldiers.

Tebedu
2.Battle of Long Jawai

On Sept 28, 1963, a large number of Indonesian troops crossed the Sarawak-Kalimantan border and attacked the outpost at Long Jawai.

After exchanging fires for several hours, one Gurkha was killed and ten Malaysian border scouts were captured and later executed.

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3.The Kalabakan Incident

The locals of Kalabakan, Tawau unfortunately witnessed one attack by the Indonesian forces on Dec 29, 1963.

Nonetheless, the attack successfully brought different groups of Malaysians to fight together for one sole cause.

A battalion from the 3rd Royal Malay Regiment (RMR) from Peninsular Malaysia, the Police Field Force, Sabah Home Guard and even Kalabakan villagers united to fight off the Indonesian forces.

The Kalabakan Incident resulted in the deaths of eight men from RMR and 18 others injured.

4.Landing at Pontian

On Aug 17, 1964, Indonesian troops made an amphibious landing at the Pontian district of Johor.

The troops landed in three different locations along Pontian coast according to plan. However, Malaysians security forces were quick to respond with half of the raiders captured immediately upon landing.

5.Landing at Kesang river

Located on the border between the Malaysian states of Malacca and Johor, Kesang river witnessed an amphibious raid conducted by a small force of Indonesian volunteers on Oct 29, 1964.

52 of these volunteers sailed across the Straits of Malacca in fishing vessels on each side of the mouth of the Kesang river.

Their action plan was to blend in with the locals and to launch guerrilla raids against Malaysian infrastructure.

However, Malaysian fishermen spotted the raiders and quickly informed the authorities.

The British troops, assisted by the Australians immediately arrived to the scene where they killed and captured all but two of the invaders.

6.Landing at Labis

About a month later after the landing at Kesang river, the Indonesians made another landing on Sept 2, 1964 near Labis, Johor and this time via air.

Three Indonesian Air Force aircraft set off from Jakarta but only two landed as the third aircraft crashed into the Straits of Malacca.

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Under the command of 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade, the operation took about a month to round up all the 98 paratroopers.

32 of the intruders were killed while the rest were captured.

7.Action of Dec 13, 1964

The Action of Dec 13, 1964 was a naval action between the Australian minesweeper HMAS Teal and two Indonesian vessels.

It took place in the Singapore Strait where HMAS Teal was conduction patrols at night. The two Indonesian vessels fired automatic weapons upon HMAS Teal. The Australian ship killed three and captured four other during the combat.

8.Battle of Plaman Mapu

The Battle of Plaman Mapu was one of the largest battles of the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation.

In the early hours of Apr 27, 1965, a battalion of Indonesian soldiers launched a surprise attack on B Company, 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in their base at Plaman Mapu.

The British was outnumbered by at least five to one but they still managed to cause significant damage on the Indonesians.

In the end, the battle took the lives of 30 Indonesians and two British troops.

9.Battle of Sungei Koemba

The Battle of Sungei Koemba was part of the wider Operation Claret that took place along the Sungai Koemba in Kalimantan.

The battle consisted of two ambushes conducted by two platoons from the Australian forces.

B Company ambushed Indonesian troops on May 27, 1965 resulting in significant Indonesian casualties and no loss for the Australians.

Meanwhile, the second ambush happened a little further downstream from the last one by a platoon from C Company. Occurred on June 12, 1965, the second ambush again resulted in heavy Indonesian casualties for no loss to the Australians.

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British Royal Marines Commando unit armed with machine gun and Sten gun patrolling using a boat in the river on Serudong, Sabah between 1963 until 1966. Credit: Malaysian Archive [Public domain]
10.Battle of Kindau

Three days after the last ambush at Sungei Koemba, a platoon from A Company successfully ambushed another large Indonesian force at Kindau, Kalimantan.

The ambush resulted in about 25 to 50 Indonesian casualties and two Australians wounded.

Unlike other engagements under Operation Claret which remained under wraps, Battle of Kindau was caught by the media after a journalist interviewed one of the wounded Australians.

However, the news was reported under the pretence the battle took place within Malaysian authority.

11.Battle of Babang

This was the last in a series of successful ambushes conducted between May and July 1965 by Australian troops from 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR).

The battle took place on July 12, 1965 at Babang, Kalimantan as part of the wider British-Commonwealth Operation Claret.

On that day, 7 Platoon C was in an ambush position along a track near the Indonesian base at Babang. Around noon time, a force of about 30 Indonesians approached along the track. The Australians ambushed the Indonesian troops subsequently killing at least 13 of them and wounded five.

The cross-border attack was to provide warning to the Indonesian troops not to incur into Sarawak territory.

12.Battle of Bau or Battle of Gunung Tepoi

On Nov 21, 1965, 16 members of the British Army Gurkhas launched an attack on about 100 Indonesian troops.

The Gurkhas were then supported by the 104 men resulting the Indonesians to withdraw.

After the battle, the Indonesians reported at least 24 men killed in action and the British lost three men.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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