Memories of jungle campaign re-lived through Borneo veteran

Memories of jungle campaign re-lived through Borneo veteran 11 Mar, 13, Source: Royal Navy

Roger Bigden read about the trip to Borneo and made contact with the Squadron through the ‘Junglie Association’ on their website www.junglies.org.uk.

He came to visit 845 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton to share his experiences of the 1960s Borneo campaign, and to present the Squadron with a map and photographs from his time there.

Roger said: ”The map was a replacement for one lost at Nanga Gaat, when I was the Crewman in a Wessex helicopter that crashed into the river near the current memorial Site on 9 May 1965.

”I was passed ‘fit to fly’ again on 28 May and used the map until we were relieved by 848 NAS on 22 June 1965”.

A montage of images was put together by Roger in 2006 on the 40th Anniversary of the end of the confrontation as a pictorial tribute to the fallen troops, and members of 845 NAS, during his 1964-65 deployment.

His visit was the perfect way to put the heritage trip in an historical context for today’s personnel serving on the Frontline.

845 NAS Commanding Officer Commander James Newton DFC Royal Navy said:

“I am thrilled that we are getting back to the roots of our heritage in Borneo. Our predecessors, such as Roger, earned the ‘Junglies’ reputation for their amazing aviation skills, and it is an ethos we maintain proudly to this day”

The daring flying in support of the soldiers fighting in the jungle earned the commando squadron pilots and support personnel the nickname “Junglies”.

Sadly, a number of Junglies and other members of the Security Force died during operations around Nanga Gaat, where a memorial was later erected.

Today’s members of 845 NAS are currently in Borneo to visit and refurbish the memorial as well as meeting the local population to re-establish the links 845 had all those years ago. This will be underpinned by providing support to a local community project, before holding a memorial ceremony at Nanga Gaat.

This trip is extremely important to the heritage of 845 NAS, enabling today’s members of 845 to re-trace the steps of their predecessors who cut their teeth in the jungles of Borneo and earned the still-coveted nickname of the ‘Junglies’.

The trip has been sponsored by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust which works in partnership with the Royal Navy to keep the nation’s Naval Aviation Heritage alive.

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