Iban blow-pipes. Iban tribesmen from Sarawak provided invaluable assistance as trackers in the Malayan jungle, supporting the 1st Battalion during the early 1950s. In 1953 a separate Iban Platoon was created.
These items are among the more unusual and unexpected weapons in the Suffolk Regiment Museum.
Since the start of the Malayan Emergency in 1948 the Ibans, or Sea Dayaks as they were also known, from the interior of Sarawak had been used to excellent effect by British units in the jungle. They were at home in his primitive and dangerous environment, and their skills, particularly in the art of tracking, were invaluable to patrols. Happy to live in the jungle and thoroughly at home in it, they helped teach the Suffolk patrol commanders how to maximise the value of their forays against the enemy.
General Sir Gerald Templer, the British High Commissioner, saw their value and suggested they should be trained as soldiers themselves. As a result two experimental platoons were formed in July 1952, one with the Suffolk Regiment and the other with the 1st Battalion the Cameronians.
The Suffolk Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant F A Godfrey, MC, began training on 1 July 1952 and were committed to operations in early October; they achieved considerable success in the three months before the Battalion left for England.
When the Battalion left Malaya the Ibans were taken from the various units to which they had been attached and formed into a new larger body called the Sarawak Rangers. They continued to support the civil power until they were dissolved in March 1960: four months later the Malayan Emergency was officially ended.