A number of you may still be scratching your heads as to why the sub-Committee of the RNZN Communicators Association has been pushing this barrow for so long. Attached is the history laid out in written form, which is the foundation document behind five [5] years of struggle to get the NZDF and a number of Ministers of Defence to review the decision made by the Joint Working Group on Medallic Recognition of South East Asia in 2014. Recent advice indicates that the current review is nearing completion, the results of which will be completed at the end of February 2020. It should be remembered that the Association has made many offers over the past few years to provide personnel who actually served during the period to assist in this review. However, the NZDF has never seen fit to take up our offer, and to this day continues to review the period in isolation.

This is our History. This is the Truth. History does not Lie. Put aside 10 – 15 minutes as it needs to be read to the END.

Take your time, read and digest. And, finally please send us your comments. We know they will be invaluable.


You will be aware from previous correspondence Neal Catley’s good friend, Godfrey Dykes, [ex Warrant Officer, RN {RCI}] now one of the Royal Navy renowned Historians] agreed to assist the RNZNCA with its FESR/ANZUK medallic recognition travesty.

You will read in the DYKES REPORT that the NZ government of the day because of their “INDIFFERENCE”; SHAFTED ALL NZ MILITARY PERSONNEL EMPLOYED TO THE FESR/ANZUK ARENA. It will be of NO SURPRISE that the only person who openly knew about the FESR medallic recognition ‘COVER UP,’ and who subsequently resigned as MOD/MOVA was Doctor Wayne Mapp [2010/2011]. Dr Wayne Mapp was on to it!  He knew that all of the FESR/ANZUK military personnel should have formally been recognised and rewarded with their MEDAL.  Unfortunately, the NZDF hierarchy of the day, because of possible funding constraints and their downright meanness, decided otherwise.

This defiant attitude of ‘INDIFFERENCE’ towards NZ FESR/ANZUK military personnel is believed to be the root cause of their pompous and uncaring decision.  Sadly, even with a possible POSITIVE result in 2020, it will still surely be recorded, as one of the darkest times, in NZ military history.

The Extract below is from Neal’s letter to Todd Muller [Electorate MP] dated 15 October 2018.
In light of this, it would now seem prudent to urgently reconsider an award to NZDF personnel deployed to the FESR 1966 – 1975 such as New Zealand General Service Medal with a South East Asia Clasp [non-warlike].

Also, I have sighted an Official Information Act [OIA] comment from the then
Minister of Defence, Doctor Wayne Mapp 2010/2011 in a letter dated 29
October 2010, in his own handwriting, he stated that:

Should not have Public Consultation if it is pre-determined to say No.  However, I actually consider we should provide a SE Asia Medal 1950-1975.  It is quite different from all other service during that period.

I understand on solid authority the Defence Minister Doctor Wayne Mapp was told by the NZDF hierarchy to let it rest as it would open the NZDF military medallic flood gates!
Interestingly, when formally challenged about NZDF hierarchical comments the Joint Review Working Group ‘push-back’ line to be taken was:

The comments you cite were made in reference to the Interim Report.  After consideration of the final report, the government decided that there was insufficient risk to justify medallic recognition.

Nota Bene. The Joint Review Working Group push backline to be taken
{“the government decided that there was insufficient risk to justify medallic
recognition”} must surely be read as contemptuous. Reason. Without the Joint
Review Working Group providing any supporting military historical evidence
to justify their making such a decision and knowing the Australian Government
had previously issued ADF military personnel their FESR clasp/medal for doing
literally, task for task exactly what the NZ Forces were called upon to do is
considered not only churlish but deeply disrespectful.

The Godfrey Dykes FESR/ANZUK report of 16 December 2019 to Neal
Catley is below.
I thought I would make a start of the Comms Web Site article concerning this ridiculous and protracted drawn-out charade of FESR recognition.

1. HISTORY. The history of the Far East Strategic Reserve FESR dates from October 1953 the month/year I joined the navy. The British organised a formal meeting to take place in Melbourne at which they, the Australians, New Zealanders the USA as an observer and the chief financier of SEATO attended. It was a theatre-sounding-board as it were, on how best the problems of the Commonwealth countries and dominions in Equatorial SE Asia and the Southern Hemisphere could be protected in every growing threat to peace and calm in the region. The Dominions were Malaya and Singapore with smaller pro-west countries hiding on the vast expanses of the Islands of Indonesia where communism had been invited in and was prospering in a most alarming way. The meeting finished by all present agreeing to a formal launch which occurred in late 1955. The plan was to coalesce Dominion and Old Commonwealth countries with British forces which were stationed in their thousands throughout Malaya and Singapore, army navy and air forces. It was thought that should the balloon go up that joining hands could be immediately implemented, allowing extra troops from the UK to reinforce in the medium term to
achieve a total impregnable force.  That force, a strategic reserve, was based in the UK and moved around the globe to combat trouble spots, changing the two letters before ‘SR’ accordingly e.g. PGSR for Persian Gulf problems. What wasn’t factored in was the
start of much unrest in Indo China which would be addressed by the strength of the USA with detailed support of SEATO, and that both NZ and Australia had fully committed themselves to. It couldn’t be known at the time in 1955 that more or less, the
Indonesian Confrontation would coincide with the start of the Vietnam War just ten years after the Korean War, which would stretch you both New Zealand and Australia to the limit.  And yet true to form you both responded with a foot in both wars: wonderful allies and both the Americans and ourselves were eternally grateful that you had literally emptied your homelands of any defence to meet your promised commitments.

2. COMMITMENT. You will recall that NEW ZEALAND gave of your very best from all three-armed forces, in the case of the air forces, both bombers and fighter aircraft. Australia and New Zealand supplied several warships each and the Australians made sure
that their carrier paid occasional trips to the war zone for training purposes, stores drop-offs, and as a warning to any upstart willing to take on a big boy! Everything went well even when the USA put pressure on Australia and New Zealand for more land forces
particularly artillery units for Vietnam. You met that/those commitments without a moan and without leaving either the USA or the UK short of combatants.   Australia and New Zealand joint actions shortened the war in Indonesia, but insurgents were still crossing the Thai border heading south to link up with guerrillas who had evaded us when crossing from Indonesia into the Malaysian mainland, and at times things were close-run and
uncontainable by the British alone.

3. FROM WAR TO PEACEKEEPING.  Again, Australia and NewZealand stayed put, leaving enough troops to mop-up and neutralise the defeated communists in Indonesia at the same time as moving resources across the water to Singapore and from there north into Malaysia as peacekeepers.  Given that Malaysia, now no longer a dominion and only just a sovereign state, was our duty along with Singapore to protect and defend to the last,  we were duty-bound to put every available ship aeroplane and soldier into the fray, but Australia and New Zealand had no such duty as such, but both of you performed as though you had, and as a triumvirate, together we put the enemy to the sword and not long afterwards you were still engaged in Vietnam which also soon fell after terrible losses. Working together showed our enemies and our friends the value of the Commonwealth for we indeed acted throughout in common and were the victors. What a pity that in victory we couldn’t continue the share of help and support and after we left the scene because of more UK Labour Party antics wanting to cut the whole of our aircraft carrier force, at that time five in number with three in the Far East, telling Singapore that we would be vacating the station in 1971, which was then changed to 1976, and before one can gulp down a tot, it was changed back to 1971 and we were gone, FESR with it,  effectively leaving Australia and New Zealand holding our baby which was now surplus to requirements, and you both reforming to be called ‘ANZUK FORCE‘ instead of FESR. Terrible to let EVERYBODY down and we sailors, loving the Far East station in buckets were left only with the Hong Kong base and reduced at that. It truly beggar’s belief that we didn’t leave behind a wash-up group which could officially and ceremoniously have thanked Australia and New
Zealand but moreover, set in motion a committee which could formally apportion thanks and medallic gifts in equal merit without leaving you in the lurch to fumble through as separate countries. The first part was done properly namely the war medallic awards, but it was 1971 when we parted company five long years after the open war had finished. I won’t criticise Australia who went off on their own but I would say that move too was hardly what I expect allies to do and resulted in Australia abandoning New Zealand and creating their own awards/rewards in isolation when what was good for them was also good for the New Zealand personnel in equal measure.

4. WHAT DID HAPPEN ON PARTING? Britain believed that each country would have its own separate campaign medal over and above the British General Service Medal 1962 with campaign clasps issued for the fighting element of the Confrontation. Australia did but New Zealand didn’t and worse still doesn’t to this day. The clasp FESR was approved by the British but as you will read Britain had no invite to comment or interfere on their time as peacekeepers: it was really nothing to do with them and there is absolutely no mention of a FESR medal, for as I have said, we were duty-bound to protect our dominions, so no external reward was necessary or contemplated.  Also, to be cognisant, that throughout the period the British C-in-C was in charge of the whole, both Australia and New Zealand were led by their own C-in- C’s, and in matters post Confrontation they were omnipotent and the UK had rightly no say in their domestic arrangements. Australia had a medal called the ASM – Australia Service Medal – they still have it, but over time its use has been altered and in 1995 it was relaunched under the following heading: – The Australian Service Medal [ASM] 1947-1975 may be awarded for service in, or in connection with prescribed non-warlike operations during the period outlined above. This medal has, to date, 15 clasps one of which is the FESR whose qualifications are “30 days service
with the Far East Strategic Reserve [FESR] from 2 July 1955 to 31 October 1971 when the FESR was stood down”. This is a clincher for peacekeepers duties of non-warlike in the
FESR areas from the cessation of the Indonesian Confrontation 1966- 1971.  Anybody who served in Borneo proper or the waters or air spaces within the conflict in the Indonesian areas are entitled to campaign like medallic awards namely the British GSM 1962 with a
Borneo clasp or Malay Peninsular clasp depending where stationed.

To this ASM they add their FESR clasp and that device becomes the Australian FESR Medal.  There is no FESR Medal nor was there ever one, and when they were minted, they were privately funded and unofficial. That means that if a country doesn’t have a unique medal [New Zealand hasn’t, so were it to be, let’s call it the NZ Service Medal NZSM] the FESR clasp would be added and that too becomes the official NZ FESR Medal: The medal eagerly sought by many NZ personnel.  Thus, it can be worn with a uniform or on civilian attire, but the clasp itself, on its own, cannot be worn at all: in any event, it wouldn’t make
much sense to do so.

It must be stressed and hammered home, that in war or peacekeeping duties allies means just that, namely New Zealand is irreversibly allied to Australia in all matters concerning the Indonesian Confrontations and subsequent services thereafter\ until the UK stood down the FESR when the medal was no longer of relevance i.e. after the 31 st  October 1971. ALL MATTERS MOST CERTAINLY includes medallic, even though in this case
the Australians approached medallic award from a unilateral stance which was an inappropriate action for an ally to take full well knowing that it left New Zealand out on a limb. That said, it is felt that on being informed of this irregularity, the NZ government should have redressed the balance and followed the Australian model like for like action for action.  The New Zealand Government took absolutely no notice which signalled
that dreadful word ‘indifference’ [couldn’t care less] to those New Zealand service personnel most deserving of this medallic recognition, and almost rubbing salt in the wound, continue to this very day with that dreadful air of ‘indifference.’ It knocks the word
Allies skewwhiff and ridicules the efforts made by all involved including those who gave their lives to bring down one of the several despots and warlords of the 1960 period. That is should be resolved and IMMEDIATELY which would win a heartfelt approval from all decent and right-thinking people.  A veteran is a person who was once on a front line but the sun shone upon him/her and they came home – their brothers-in-arms didn’t – but
today whether alive or dead, they are your [nay, our] heroes and should be treated accordingly with dignity and gratitude. Come on New Zealand, has your obvious INDIFFERENCE supplanted your heart and soul with untold meanness and lack of charity such that as the representative of your nation you no longer care for the welfare of your veterans, for that is what they are, this despite New Zealand’s current mealy-mouthed definition of a veteran.

As a matter of interest although hopefully after 53 years all has been resolved,  the qualifications for the Borneo war-like medal was for operational service in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei – awarded for 30 days or 1 sortie, of operational service between 24th December 1962 and 11th  August 1966 – and for the Malay Peninsular war-like medal  – for operational service in the Malay Peninsular/Singapore, awarded for 30 days of operational service on land in the Malay Peninsular or Singapore between 17th  August 1964 and 12th  June 1965; or for 30 days afloat while in any RNZN, RN, or army department vessel on duty in the waters surrounding the Malay Peninsular/Singapore between 17th  August 1964 and 12th  June 1965, or for 30 days of sea patrol duties near the Malay Peninsular or Singapore between 13th  June 1965 and 11th  August 1966.

All personnel, including New Zealanders, who also served on peacekeeping duties [non-warlike] away from Indonesia i.e. in Malaysia or Singapore after the Confrontation had finished in Indonesia, which then automatically thereafter was called the “ANZUK FORCE” are entitled [also entitled in the case of those wearing the British GSM 1962 with the Borneo or Malay Peninsular clasps], to an official clasp called FESR which by all eligible Australians wear on their Australian Service Medal.

5. THE PROBLEM! The issue and bone of contention are that New Zealand Forces who qualify for that elusive FESR clasp have no suitable medal to which it can be appended given it is obvious that New Zealand must follow the Australian lead in the absence of any other direct and relevant comparison. Many New Zealanders qualify for the FESR clasps but have no means of displaying it so that it can be proudly worn. Any such new medal
plus the FESR clasp would equal the medal that Australians wear, and yet New Zealanders cannot, which is the OFFICIAL and RECOGNISED medal for non-warlike post-Indonesian
award/reward.  Remember there is no such thing [except by private and unofficial manufacture] as a stand-alone FESR medal.  In the case of the Australians, they wear their ASM with a FESR clasp on their uniforms along with their other service medals, but currently, the best a New Zealand veteran can hope for is to wear the clasp on his civilian coat lapel.  Where are those FESR clasps today [?], for if you did time in Malaysia or Singapore on non-war-like duties, you are fully entitled to one. It is up to the New Zealand government to mint a medal or to use an existing medal if appropriate, to match, word for word, the definition of the Australian ASM as shown above.  The wording is specific, unambiguous and wholly relevant.

TO TAKE TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE.  It is imperative that a New Zealand medal will have to be struck as a Service Medal, which with the FESR clasp can be worn on a service uniform and on civilian attire as a full or miniature medal.  As an imperative, it should also be recognised as a veteran qualifying medal and with that acceptance comes that the wearers acknowledge that in every sense they are Bona Fide veterans who served their country at a time when the British C-in-C FESR considered that Malaysia and Singapore were still liable to attacks by Chinese communist guerrillas who had crossed the Thai border directly threatening RAAF Butterworth, the Johor Bahru causeway and thus Singapore and its defences.  Until these infiltrators had been neutralised, disarmed and incarcerated, the war with Indonesia could not officially be declared over.  These peacekeeping forces were or could be as vulnerable as a soldier on the front line, and should, therefore, be treated and recognised as true veterans and New Zealand’s best, with all the privilege’s in life and in death fully afforded and implemented.

New Zealand personnel are entitled to medallic [extra medallic?] awards for the period 1971 to 1975 which coincides with the cessation of the FESR and the winding up of the ANZUK Force which replaced it.  With great respect, here we are talking about ‘clasps’ and not medals and specifically clasps for the ASM 1946-1975.   Of the many clasps, the Australians granted and commissioned to add to the growing number [currently I believe 15] to the core medal [ASM 1945-1975] was the ‘FESR’ clasp and the  ‘SE ASIA’ clasp, the latter for service on land in Malaysia or Singapore in the period 1966 to 1975, and again over the period 31st  October  1971 [the end of the FESR] and 14th  March 1975 [the end of the ANZUK Force] for service in RAN ships assigned to the ANZUK Force. You are better placed than I to read NZ for RAN, but it is obvious to me that NZ ships assigned to the ANZUK Force between 1971 and 1975 are fully entitled to this clasp to join the FESR clasp.  As I have said, all that is required is a new and simple non-warlike medal to be struck in Wellington on which these clasps [plural] can be attached. Once again, I insist that parallels with the Australian model are the only true, fair and relevant guidelines if fair play is to be encouraged in the halls of the NZ Parliament representing the NZ Armed Forces. It is manifest that a like for like service [obviously in the same theatre and same confrontation] is the only way to approach this thorny subject, and what is given to Peter MUST BE GIVEN to Paul, otherwise, the terms ‘allies’, FESR, Commonwealth plus whatever else, are cheapened if not discredited. If money becomes a deciding factor which the NZ government is not prepared to spend, then it is open season for social media and newspapers to do their bit! If absolutely necessary, I will make this inequality known
throughout the Royal Navy.

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  1. gunther says:

    What a damn good read.. I would like to know who were the people who stopped the medal being given..surely there are names…and this purely for curiosity’s sake..

  2. Mike kettle-williams says:

    Anything from Ron Marks yet
    Had hoped he being ex services would stand and be counted

    • Frank Rands says:


      You need to go back on the blog and read what has happened over the past 12 months and bring yourself up to date. Things are moving but the wheels of government are turning very very very slowly.

  3. Ngaia Herd says:

    Does this also include the RNZN personnel who set up the Singapore Navy 1968 – 1973.?

  4. g says:

    Also whilst on the subject of medals.. What has happened to the long service and good conduct medal rethink????

    • Frank Rands says:

      The review of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal commenced in 2004 believe it or not. The latest update is as follows:
      21 August 2019
      Changes to the eligibility rules for the existing ten New Zealand military long service awards are expected to be announced by the end of 2019, once the governing Royal Warrants and accompanying regulations are in place. (did you hear any announcement)

      As advised on 25 August 2015, the existing long service awards will remain, but the entitlement criteria will allow all eligible New Zealand military service to be counted. For example, service will be able to be accumulated rather than continuous (as is currently required for some awards). This will deliver a fairer system while maintaining the standing of the long service awards.

      The appropriate long service award issued will reflect the majority of each recipient’s service. Persons who already have a long service award will continue to wear the award they have. There will be no swapping of awards.

      Current serving military personnel will not need to apply for their long service entitlement to be assessed under the new rules. They will be automatically assessed via the data in their SAP HCM records. Please note that given the number of eligible personnel it may take around 12 to 18 months after the announcement to confirm and issue the medal entitlement for every current serving military Service person.

      Applications from eligible ex-Service persons will be called for in 2020, once a project team of additional staff has been hired and trained.

      Full information on the changes will be released at the time of the formal announcement.

      If you believe this you believe in the man in the moon. This has been delayed and delayed and delayed Good Luck.

      • g says:

        yes, i thought i had seen zilch at the end of last year.. oh well maybe this year, i still have my question into the minister re what is happening re the medal..still waiting for a reply as it so happens…

      • Neal Catley says:

        In continuation of Frank’s ‘Update on the Long Service Awards Review’ and its ‘slow boat to China’ strategy, it would appear that most apolitical Minister’s employment strategies are very simple in nature in that, they want ‘real people diversity.’ That is people to be appointed to their Teams who genuinely believe in his/her ‘chain dragging’ projects. The typical apolitical minister is also a ‘mover and shaker’ who believes in ‘People Management Confirmation’ bias. In simple terms this means – here’s the things I believe – so, I’m only interested in employing people that believe what I believe.

        To be fair, this strategy has a certain ring of truth about it. Let’s for a moment look in the rear vision mirror and remind ourselves of how all of the world bureaucratic systems work. OK, that’s long enough! We all know who pays the Ferryman!

        With the general election probably in the last quarter of this year, it seems appropriate to now seek an early warning ELECTION detection system using one of the global International standard acclaimed guidelines, [developed by a Blue Sky guru who thought the unthinkable and the unworkable and had trouble getting dressed properly], in order to be able to accurately assess most apolitical Ministers effectiveness, positivity and commitment. Anyway, to cut to the nut, it would seem appropriate and fair, without naming names as that’s just not cricket, to score all of the typical apolitical Ministers the maximum points possible for continuing to enjoy their lifelong commitment to nothingness, underdoggery and sideline martyrdom.

  5. Tiny johnson says:

    What I find very unpalatable when perusing the Queens Birthday and New Years Lists are reasons some are awarded medalic recognition for but Service personnel are left behind.

  6. Donald Shepherd says:

    Neal thank you for all the hard work you’ve done in this matter I have for many years heard sailors talking about this matter well service personnel, I have even written an article in the review about this madness Medallic Recognition but I may have got the wrong end of the stick. But my complaint was that they took us off the line one day early before the medal was due.

  7. Neal Catley says:

    Much appreciate your commentary, Don. I assume you’re talking about your and my posting to HMNZS Otago while operational on the Fast East Station during 1966/67. As time permits, we can further discuss your last sentence outside of this median. My email address is;
    Be well 24/7.

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