Valour of the Highest Kind


Former Royal Marine Intelligence Officer Nick Van Der Bilj tells the story of one Royal Marine’s sacrifice to cover his company in one of Britain’s least-known conflicts.

Three Indonesian soldiers pose during the Confrontation.
A patrol from the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Highlanders Seaforth and Camerons) search the jungles of Brunei.

Between 1963 and 1966, British Commonwealth forces in Borneo were engaged in a campaign known as the Confrontation. The aim was to preserve the security of Brunei and North Borneo from Indonesian ambitions. Initially, Commonwealth forces were restricted to dealing with Indonesian incursions. However, when General Walter Walker took command, he established bases along the 1,000-mile border and took to the offensive, attacking Indonesian camps in Operation ‘Claret’. The principal strategy was very discreet penetration – a ‘shoot and scoot’ – to disrupt enemy operations and force withdrawal from striking distance of Brunei and North Borneo.

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