11 Field Coy 1958-1970

11 Field Coy

11 Independent Field Squadron moved to Butterworth, Malaya, in Aug 1956/57? . 1959 saw 11 Sqn rotating through 6 month construction tours of the Kota Belud Training Area in the uplands of North Borneo.
Update to above. from Sqn member serving at this time.(The Sqn did not go to Kota Belude in 1959 as it was still working on the Kedah road at Sik and still had to build Fort Tapong in 1960 they did not move out to Kota Belude till May/June 1960.)
The aim of the project was to provide the Commonwealth armed forces in the Far East with a more suitable training area than could be provided by the densely forested terrain of the Malay Peninsula. Owing to the inaccessibility of the area, all plant and heavy stores had to be brought in by raft up 8 miles of the River Abai. The principal tasks were the improvement to Class 20 standard of 23 miles of hill-section road and the construction of crossings of the Rivers Tempasuk and Gunding. Other work included the construction of an airstrip to accept Beverley transport aircraft, waterworks, camp structures, and the necessary roads and bridges to facilitate deployment of troops within the training area.

The training area was in use by Jan 1960, however the causeway built to bridge the Tempasuk River was only a temporary measure and soon required upgrading. This task fell to 11 Sqn, who launched four 130 foot double-double Bailey spans over three high level piers to form a Class 40 bridge, 524 feet in length between concrete abutments, served by extensive ramped approach roads. Whilst not technically problematic, the operation was made interesting due to a strict time limit and hazardous because of the liability of the river to sudden and unpredictable spate (The Royal Engineers Journal, Book 10, Ch 4, pl49).

Following a 6 month tour of Borneo in May 1960, 11 Sqn returned to Butterworth, and continued to support operations against the communist terrorists. It then moved to Borneo, in support of the training element being formed at Jesselton. From 1961- 8, 11 Sqn was part of the (17) Divisional Engineers in Malaya District, supporting 28 Commonwealth Brigade in the North. Apr 1962 saw the Sqn move to Malacca, Malaya.

In late 1962, the British Government, keen to offer a token of Allied solidarity, proposed that British forces conduct a MACC task in Thailand, and planning got underway for Operation CROWN, the construction of an entirely new airfield at Loeng Nok Tha, near Mukdahan.

Once obstacles had been overcome such as administrative problems and the onset of the rainy season, 11 Sqn played a pivotal role in building roads, a helipad, and a hutted camp for the airfield construction workforce. Construction of the camp took place between Jan and Apr 1964, in shade temperatures often in
excess of 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Following increasing Indonesian aggression in 1963, the single brigade group stationed in the region came to be regarded as insufficient to deal with the hostile situation and massive reinforcement became necessary. Half of 11 Sqn completed a 6 month rotation during the Borneo campaign, latterly with a troop in support of 99 Gurkha Infantry Brigade in West Sarawak Meanwhile, the other half was deployed to Singapore and Kluang, Malaya until May 1964.

The Sqn returned to Op CROWN in Nov 1965 for a 6 month tour, continuing construction of the airfield. By the time Op CROWN was complete, in Jan 1967. a detachment from 11 Sqn was engaged in flood relief operations in Vientiane, Laos.

Work on another MACC task in Thailand started that same month, this time a road construction project, and 11 Sqn rotated through Op POST CROWN from Aug 1967. The Sqn bore the brunt of the monsoon season, and continued work on the road when no other unit was available to take over in the rotation
sequence, before returning to Malacca. The 40 kilometre long road was formally declared open on 18 Apr 1968.

In Malacca, 11 Sqn was based in Terendak Camp, and constructed a steel footbridge to join together the two sites of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in the city. The Convent straddled a narrow and very busy road, crossed several times a day by the 1,700 children who attended the convent school. Spr Gilp, who had responsibility for constructing the two main girders of the bridge, was immortalised when the bridge was named after him upon its completion in 1968.

Between Jan and Dec 1969, the Sqn played a large part in the Bukit Mendi Project, a MACC task on a grand scale in Malaya. In total, four miles of road, two pre-stressed reinforced concrete bridges, 46 timber houses and a community centre were constructed at the site near Triang in Pahang. The Project was
remarkable because of its size.

Another extensive project, that of the Luk Keng Road, started in Feb 1969 and was to continue for three years. The project was part of a bigger plan to improve relations with the more remote communities in the New Territories, and was to give access to Starling Inlet in the extreme north-east of the area. The
section to be built by the Army branched off from the existing East Coast route at Tai Met Tuk and penetrated four miles of rugged terrain, a tortuous alignment demanding heavy cut and fill and the construction of a number of massive culverts; beyond Wu Kau Tang considerable rock blasting was necessary.

In 1969,11 Independent Field Squadron was reduced to a Cadre before, after 15 years' service in the Far East, it reverted to the Home Establishment 11 Field Squadron was formed at Ripon in 38 Engineer Regiment in Feb 1970 by re-titling 73 Field Squadron.

Nobby Clarke Fort Tapong

To 1970-1980

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