I’ve been flicking through SBS: The Inside Story of the Special Boat Service again and wanted to share this story that I read. I enjoyed it.
The SBS are attached to the Gurkhas, although it wasn’t working well. Both units have the same ideas in that stealth was the order of the day and then smash the enemy to pieces, a tactic used since the SBS were created.
This happened around the Indonesian border when the SBS were present there. The Indonesian Border Terrorists (IBT) were using camps not far away. The SBS received information of a camp located on the Indonesian coast just across the border from Milano.
The SBS had to recce the camp and see if it was still in use by the IBT. Then the Gurkhas would attack the camp if it was.
The men used an assault boat to tow SBS recce canoes – often used successfully – to around a mile or so from the landing spot. This was within easy paddling distance of the camp. The operators wanted the safety of a fast craft not too far away in case they needed to get out quick.
They also had a coastal minesweeper off in the area to monitor radar for enemy vessels. The SBS arrived at their landing point around 200 to 300 metres away from the camp. They stashed the canoes at the back of beach like always and waited for daylight.
The men had to recce in the daytime because the jungle was so thick. Add to that the threat of booby traps and they had to be very careful when moving. The plan was that if they were discovered they would leave the canoes where they were. Then the patrol would make their way on foot back to safety.
Inset from the coast they came upon the camp after a while. It was in a jungle clearing but it was empty. Looks like they had missed them (unlike this mission) but there were signs of the IBT conducting training that would lead to a water-borne incursion at some point so at least they had some intelligence.
Not long after this the Gurkhas discovered another camp. The enemy massively outnumbered The Gurkhas. The enemy were also using this camp. The Indonesians had a spit-roasted pig on the go for a breakfast feast. Life of luxury eh?
Going Ahead With the Attack
The Gurkhas decided to attack anyway. The patrol approached and fired a 3.5-inch rocket across the river. It hit the breakfast party right in its face and exploded. The explosion threw men in all directions and the hut they were using turned in to a ball of flames like it was taking part in a magic show.
Breakfast was over. The Gurkhas moved their two assault teams in where they were met with panicking, naked enemy troops running around. I know we like to chill out but eating breakfast naked when you’re at war isn’t the most genius of ideas.
The Gurkhas dealt with the remaining enemies before assaulting the base with covering fire from the support group. There were no live enemy remaining, with blood everywhere and bodies scattered around the camp.
The SBS recce missions had proved vital throughout Malaya and Borneo in the early 60’s and they probably prevented a full-scale war from developing.
I’m enjoying reading about these battles which were before my time, and thought that this little one was worth sharing.