Konfrontasi - The Indonesian Confrontation

Nothing is being made of it and little was made of it at the time but this year marks the 50th anniversary of several significant actions during the Indonesian Confrontation, a violent conflict that lasted from 1963 to 1966. In particular, the Royal Navy's 'Cold War warriors' manning the ships of the Inshore Flotilla were in the thick of it both day and night.

20-year-old Midshipman Michael Richard O'Driscoll of HMS Invermoriston was killed in action on 29 March 1965 when a mortar flare exploded prematurely. He manned a machine gun and was awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches for showing ...outstanding coolness and devotion to duty while in action”. He is buried in Kranji Military Cemetery a few miles north of Singapore.

19-year-old Midshipman Michael Brian Finch of HMS Woolaston was reported missing presumed killed on 25 June 1965 when a sampan exploded in the Singapore Straits. He was awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches, along with other personnel of the Inshore Flotilla, "... in recognition of distinguished services on Far East Fleet Patrols and in the Borneo Territories during the period 24th December 1964 to 23rd June1965."

Lest we forget, here are some illustrative articles from the Navy News of the day.

Navy News Aug 1965 Award for night rescue.jpg Navy News May 1965 Konfrontasi.jpg Navy News Oct 1965 Skill and Determination win Gallantry awards.jpg Navy News Sep 1965 Booby trapped sampan killed Midshipman.jpg


War Hero
Thanks NG - great links. I think Soldier Magazine this month had something on the Paras who also fought a rather intense action too.

A long forgotten period of history sadly, but worth remembering that over 100,000 UK personnel were engaged in the region at one point or another.
Here's another one from January the same year, especially notable because it mentions that our Far East Fleet comprised "...some 80 ships".Navy News Jan 1965 Sweepers Taken out of mothballs.jpg .


Book Reviewer
I was on HMS Bulwark at this time. We carried 845 Squadron. Probably the finest Naval Air Commando Squadron we've ever had. Their exploits in Borneo are recorded elsewhere. In the Fiskerton episode it was my old friend, and my best man, PO George Richardson. I shall copy and print this article and send it to his widow Marguerite. So many memories come flooding back.


Book Reviewer
On the day that the peace treaty (or whatever they called it) was signed it was decided that Submarine Oberon would do a surface passage across the entrance to the Indon main navy base, we had the attack team closed up, Orelikan (sp) gun crew in the fin out of sight and I as the Signalman was on the Bridge with a Bren Gun (out of sight). A master piece of Naval planning, there wasn't enough water for us to dive, I remember hoping that everyone had received the cease fire signal.

As a matter of interest Boats spent some time in the region of the Indon departure points, at periscope depth, passing information out to the Simmers so that they could intercept.

All this and I dipped out on a medal for the sake of 7 days.
Admiral Sir Jeremy Black - obituary
Daily Telegraph said:
...Black’s first command (1961-63) was one of the last “wooden-wall” ships, the minesweeper Fiskerton based in Singapore. There he was appointed MBE and awarded a Setia Negaar Brunei for an action known as the Limbang Raid, when he carried Royal Marine commandos up river to release the district officer and other hostages captured by communist guerrillas. He succeeded despite heavy machine gunfire and afterwards recalled the DO’s wife kissing the deck and crying: “Thank God for the Royal Navy!”
Black was also court-martialled for discrepanycies in Fiskerton’s accounts (never his strength), in a trial which pitted two future First Sea Lords against each other: Captain Henry Leach for the defence, against a newly promoted and ambitious Commander William Staveley, the prosecutor. Black was reprimanded for some minor offence but found not guilty of the major charges against him.
Despite this hiccup, he rose quickly in his chosen specialisation of gunnery officer: he commanded the destroyer Decoy 1969-70, the guided missile destroyer Fife 1977-79 and the aircraft carrier Invincible 1981-83, as well as holding key staff appointments at sea and ashore...