KOSB Malaya veterans reunite

John and Esther Crawford, from Melrose and Brigadier Allan Alstead, who chaired the event at Peebles Hydro on Thursday night.
John and Esther Crawford, from Melrose and Brigadier Allan Alstead, who chaired the event at Peebles Hydro on Thursday night.

Berwickshire veterans joined more than 100 former comrades from the Malaya emergency of the 1950s for their 16th annual reunion dinner in Peebles last week.

It is now more than 60 years since many of them first set foot in what was then Malaya, but the bonds of brotherhood formed in the fight against the communist insurgency remain as strong as ever among veterans of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

Many of those attending the dinner had been young national servicemen when called up for a tour of duty to Malaya between 1955 and 1959.

Often away from home for the first time, the soldiers of the 1st battalion faced a hostile enemy combined with the difficult jungle terrain, tropical climate, biting insects and debilitating illness.

As the years march on and with many of the former soldiers now approaching 80, the numbers attending have dwindled, but for those who made the trip from across southern Scotland and Edinburgh, the dinner remains a major highlight of their year.

Veterans from the Borders included Ken Fraser and Ronnie Cryer, of Duns; William Frizzel, of Norham and Ken and Mary Allan, of Coldstream.

Messages containing warm wishes for the reunion were read out by event chairman Allan Alstead, including ones from the Malaysian government and the Princess Royal, patron of the KOSB Association.