Queens Own Highlanders

(Seaforth & Camerons)

Regimental Association

Borneo and Brunei

1962 - 1963


The 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth & Camerons), moved to the Far East on the 8th of April 1961 and journeyed to Singapore (Lion City) courtesy of Her Majesty’s Navy.

In Singapore they were part of the 17th Gurkha Division, and made up the British Battalion of the 99 Gurkha Infantry Brigade.

Their main role was internal security duties and aiding the local Police in preventing Piracy.  Equally important was their presence in that Theatre to deter the Indonesians from interfering in the North Borneo Territories.

On the 8th of December 1962 there was a revolt in the Sultanate of Brunei, where Azahri’s rebels attacked the Sultans Palace and other government establishments, including those operated by other European nations. The Rebels took many hostages and in the process seized the Shell oil field in a place called Seria.

The Battalion was immediately tasked to deal with the problem, namely;  neutralize the Rebels - free the hostages!   Battalion Headquarters and “A” Company moved from Singapore to Brunei by air while “B” company sailed at full speed on Her Majesty’s Destroyer “Cavalier”.

 “A” company carried out its air assault and landed at Seria catching the rebels with complete surprise.  The aircraft was still rolling while troops spilled out the rear of the plane and immediately began to engage the Azahri’s rebels.  After a swift decisive battle the Battalion cleared Seria of Rebels, and freed some 46 European hostages, without loss to our own troops.

The Battalion had taken part in its first active service since being formed, and that first success was spectacular one, an achievement any other Regiment would have been equally proud of.

The Battalion returned to Borneo in May 1963 to carry out long range patrolling of the Indonesian border, and to train local tribesmen as Border Scouts.  A task they still carry out today, with that other famous Regiment that have their barracks in Stirling Lines, Hereford.


Captured rebels
Union Jack link to MODPicture

An Azahari Rebel is led away into captivity with freed hostages in the background.

Dear George Monaghan,

December 8th marked the 40th anniversary of the Brunei Rebellion and although four decades have passed, I just wanted to say "thank you" to all the men who helped put down that rebellion. 

 My father was one of the Shell employees who was taken hostage on December 8, 1962, and was not as fortunate as the other hostages who were freed by the soldiers of your battalion.  My father was shot and killed the evening of December 8 when the rebels used him and other hostages as human shields to try to take over Panaga Police Station.  The days that followed were ones of turmoil and horror for my family and a few days later we left Brunei forever.

 I have put Brunei behind me but I will always carry the memories of those dark days with me, and I will never know his name, but I will always remember the British soldier who picked me up to carry me towards the helicopter that would take me and my family away from Brunei.  A three-year-old's terrified screams of "Put me down! Put me down!" never fazed him.  He was calm and kind and that is the image I have held in my mind for forty years.

 I have tried not to dwell on those days, but this is the 40th anniversary and to that unknown soldier and to all the brave men in your battalion, I wanted to express my gratitude and my thanks, and to say that the years may have passed, but there are people all over the world who still remember what you did.


Evelyn M. Campbell     Librarian

Hunton & Williams   951 E. Byrd St.   Richmond, VA. 23219   USA





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