Royston Leonard /

By Ben Wheeler

STUNNING photographs of both conscripted and volunteer British troops fighting during the now largely forgotten Malayan Emergency have been expertly colourised to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of Malaysian Independence today.

Taken from a conflict against Communist insurgents known as “Britain’s Vietnam”, images show troops trekking through the tropical terrain of the former British-colony then known as the Federation of Malaya.

Royston Leonard /

Other pictures depict some of the 35,000 British troops deployed in the conflict carrying what appears to be a tied up enemy prisoner on a pole through the jungle, whilst another shows one of the troops relaxing in his hammock with a canine friend for company.

The photos we caringly brought into the 21st century by Electrician, Royston Leonard (55), who discussed modern attitudes towards the conflict.

“Unfortunately, the war is more or less forgotten today, it is not even known as a war, just an emergency of which there was 12 years of fighting,” he said.

Royston Leonard /

“The images really bring to life just how tough the conditions were where the combat was taking place.

“The original pictures were in poor condition and not of good quality so most needed repairing before I could begin the colourisation process.

“All in all, to repair and colour the photos it took around 50 hours.”

Royston Leonard /

The Malayan Emergency, which saw thousands of deaths, lasted from 1948 until 1960 and started after the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party began wreaking havoc in the British colony.

The conflict was labelled as an ‘emergency’ because insurers would not have compensated plantation and mine owners, whose livelihoods were under attack from communist insurgents, had it been labelled a ‘war’.

Malaya was granted its independence in 1957 and despite this appeasing many communists the combat continued for another three years until British and Commonwealth forces had freed most of the country from terrorist activity.

Royston Leonard /

It goes down as one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by Western forces during the Cold War.

Pictures like this are featured in a new book on iconic colourised photographs called Retrographic, by author Michael D. Carroll. The book is currently available to preorder on amazon for £19.95

Royston Leonard /

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