Ian Pfennigwerth: The RAN & The Malayan Emergency

Posted on: Mon 11 Jun 2018

Military historian, author and retired Navy Captain,  Dr Ian Pfennigwerth gives an easy to follow explanation of the problems that created the Malayan Emergency, how Australia became involved, and the formation of the Far East Strategic Reserve.  Defence quantified our commitment of nearly 5,000 people required to man our part of the Strategic Reserve.  Nearly a third of those were Navy!  Ian goes on to explain the role our Navy carried out in the region…  he served in Malaya during this period.

Presenter Fiona White.  Producer and Interviewer Helen Meyer.

Service with the Strategic Reserve could at times be arduous. Life at sea in the tropics was occasionally dangerous and seldom pleasant in mess decks that had no air conditioning.  Seven members of RAN ships were killed accidentally or died of other causes while serving with the Strategic Reserve.


Far East Strategic Reserve – Roll of Honour



HMAS Tobruk Able Seaman Robert William Spooner 26 April 1957 Killed when struck by a star shell casing fired by HMS Cockade  
HMAS Anzac Cook Alan Campbell Cooper 28 December 1957 Drowned
HMAS Quickmatch Engineer Mechanic Dennis Hoare 14 May 1961 Illness
HMAS Vampire Chief Petty Officer Bryon Edward Plint 1 December 1961 Illness
HMAS Queenborough Able Seaman Brian Paul Pelgrave 28 September 1962 Drowned
HMAS Melbourne Acting Sub-Lieutenant John Hutchison 24 March 1965 Aircraft crash
Lieutenant Edward George Kennell 28 April 1966 Aircraft crash

Main photo HMAS Warramunga, one of the first two RAN ships to serve in the Strategic Reserve.  Courtesy of

Tiger Territory.  Book cover image used with permission from Rosenberg Publishing.


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