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Enemies or Friendlies? British Military Behavior Toward Civilians During the Malayan Emergency

  • Christi Siver
Chapter

Abstract

After World War II, the British re-entered Malaya to find that anti-Japanese forces they previously supported had now begun an insurgency against colonial interests. While the British had extensive experience with jungle warfare, the first British units in Malaya struggled to deal with insurgent attacks. For some units, frustration with insurgent tactics boiled over into reprisals against civilians. The massacre of twenty-five civilians at Batang Kali is the most extreme example of this violence. However, many units took pity on the civilians caught in the crossfire and endured tremendous risks to protect them. Based on extensive archival research, the author finds that, while all units received relatively little training in the laws of war, some units had subcultures that valued tactical innovation and pride in service. Leaders of these units helped to steer uncertain soldiers toward the ideals of minimal force and civilian protection.

Keywords

Batang Kali Massacre Jungle warfare Counter insurgency Subculture 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christi Siver
    • 1
  1. 1.Political Science DepartmentCollege of Saint BenedictCollegevilleUSA

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