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Britain's Secret War: The Indonesian Confrontation 1962 - 66 by Will Fowler

By Will Fowler

The ‘Confrontation’ among Malaysia and Indonesia in Bornew 20/1/2006 the battle opposed to Indonesian raids throughout a 900-mile border in a few of the world’s worst jungle terrain – ultimately concerned approximately 20,000 British and Commonwealth troops, with air and naval help; and but, via mutual consent, it was once astonishingly little pronounced on the time. This ‘secret war’ observed the perfection of SAS jungle strategies; a Parachute Regiment motion defined as ‘a moment Rorke’s Drift’; and audacious mystery missions deep within enemy territory, together with the award to a Gurkha soldier of the British Army’s merely ‘living VC’ for forty years.

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Every time there was a spate the trees would end up festooned with flotsam: branches, leaves, fertilizer bags, even car tyres. It is an other-worldly place. I was exploring this stretch of the river a few months after first moving to the cottage when I had a curious find. As I walked through the trees I saw a face coming towards me. It was my own face, in the intact wing mirror of a car that had lodged in the crook of an alder at head height, and I speculated on the history that had led it to this place.

On a long, fast sweep of the road flanked with serried ranks of pine, there is a track through the woods, but it is invisible to anyone who doesn’t know exactly where to look. It is the merest whisper of a trail; I doubt that anyone other than me has trodden it for many a year. I step into the cool hush of the pine forest and make my way down to the valley floor. Through the trunks I can see the glimmer of light on water far below. Way above me a sparrowhawk is circling in her display flight. There is a footbridge over the river, an old suspension bridge, and I pause midway to lean on the rail and look downriver at the water boiling over submerged rocks and veering around little mossy islands.

I would spend hours there: bathing, swimming, washing my hair and my clothes. In the winter I would boil up kettlefuls of water and have strip-washes in front of the fire. Or there was a holiday let down by the river where they would leave the key in the porch for me so I could go in and use their bath and washing machine. A cheat perhaps, if this had been a dare, but there were no rules other than those I decided for myself as I went along. Every week or two I would walk to the village shop to buy staples: tea, coffee, sugar, and so on.

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