Battlefield tour a humbling experience
Members of the 130th rotation of Rifle Company Butterworth visited World War II battlefields in Malaysia, where hundreds of Australian soldiers lay buried.
During a break from training in September, the 130th rotation of Rifle Company Butterworth, primarily made up of members of the Darwin-based 1st Brigade, conducted a six-day tour of important sites from the Malaya campaign.
Major Matthew Breckenridge, of 130th rotation of Rifle Company Butterworth, said soldiers were humbled by the experience.
“The soldiers really enjoyed it. It was an eye-opener for them,” Major Breckenridge said.
“The Malaya campaign usually isn’t covered in as much detail as other campaigns, so a site where more than 800 Commonwealth soldiers and troops are buried highlights the significance of the Malay Peninsula campaign and puts the battles into perspective.”
During the campaign, the Australian Imperial Forces had some early successes, but were unable to repel the advance of the Japanese.
The tour covered significant sites at Jitra, Gerik, Kampar, Gemencheh and Parit Sulong before ending at Muar.
Members visited the Taiping war memorial, where they researched and cleaned gravestones.
It was a task Private Jack Lovatt was happy to complete.
“Even though the Commonwealth War Grave Commission are responsible for the upkeep of the graves, it was a good experience,” Private Lovatt said.
“It helped give some recognition for the sacrifice rather than just having a look and taking photos – it was more personal.”
Corporal Jean Bukasa said he was struck by the fact not every Australian soldier lost in battle during the Malaya campaign could be accounted for.
“There are unknown soldiers buried there, their family don’t know what happened,” Corporal Bukasa said.
“It is sad no one knows their story.”