Monday, June 20, 2011

Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and some rusty junk.

Around Darwin you can see evidence of past military activity. A short drive from my place I can get to a sandy beach called Lee Point. As you can see in the image a bunch of rusted old drums is visible from Lee Point Road but it is not a WWII site. At the moment it is the Dry Season here (winter in North Australia’s Wet and Dry tropical climate). So it can be easier to see places like this in the scrub that can be hidden away by Wet Season growth. Nearby was a sign with the following interesting information.

“During a little known period in Australia’s post WWII history a number of Anti-aircraft sites were established in this area during the period of Indonesian aggression known as the ‘Confrontation’.

It was not until the 1960s that this site was constructed as part of Darwin’s defences against possible Indonesian incursions.

This ‘Confrontation’ period, as it became known, began with the formation of Malaysia in 1963. The move was seen as an affront by the Indonesian President, Soekarno, who saw it as a British ploy to maintain a colonial influence over the region. Soekarno ordered attacks against Malaysia and a cautious Australian government sent troops to the area. In all 23 Australian were killed and 108 wounded on operations in the conflict.
In 1963 Lee Point was selected as part of Australia’s northern defences when 121 Light Anti-Aircraft (LAA) was formed in Adelaide to defend Darwin against any incursions by the Indonesians. In all, twelve of these positions were constructed for the crews and their 40mm Bofors Anti-aircraft guns. A battery HQ, crew camps, communications, and even a POW enclosure were erected in the area, the latter, “just in case”.

Despite continued training by the gunners and a number of alerts the Indonesians avoided Darwin. Any threat was negated in 1965 when Indonesian army leaders, including General Suharto, staged a coup against Soekarno. The policy of confrontation ceased with it and the nation of Malaysia was recognised by Indonesia in 1966.

The military presence established during Confrontation was also withdrawn from Darwin leaving few remnants of a little known period in our military history.”

1 comment:

  1. We've got a few of those mouldering 'just in case' prisoner camps scattered around the continent. I never knew about the AA unit in the confrontasi though...