By Roger Annett (Hardback)
For nearly four years in the 1960s, British and Commonwealth armed forces were embroiled in conflict on the island of Borneo. Its difficult terrain and lack of adequate road networks proved to be one of the biggest challenges from a military perspective, a challenge met in great part by the mobility of the helicopter.
The story of the Borneo Boys of the title, traces a journey from new recruits at boot camp, to flying training and on to Borneo itself. It was here that a fraternal bond was to be forged to last a lifetime and serve as an impetus for this book. The process of theatre familiarisation jungle training, nursing Whirlwind 10s over and around the mountainous Malayan jungle is recorded here with first-hand authenticity.
Setting this journey in context, the author fills out the history of the wider conflict. The Far East colonial tensions which bred antagonism and ultimately led to the conflict are detailed, as are the cross-border raids and riots which bred a fever of revolt.
Indonesian Confrontation arose as Malaysia struggled towards nationhood against a background of simmering colonial tensions. The focus of this book is on the young men who were called upon to fly over such confusion, far away from home, and we witness their daily adventures, learning trajectories and camaraderie. All the excitement of the aviators adrenaline ride is translated into elegant prose, strengthened by the kind of confident delivery achievable only by a man who was himself involved in the action.
Another great addition to the "Boys" series, this one follows the same sort of format and is filled with lots of great stories and pictures. Heli-ops are generally considered less glamorous than fixed wing, and this work certainly gives an impression of the gritty type of tropical mountain flying that these guys undertook. Well worth a read.