This month, our Retail and Admissions Assistant Sara Cox has chosen a vest with embroidered characters, part of a uniform belonging to a Communist fighter, which is in the museum’s collection.
“We have so many British uniforms in the collection, I wanted to choose this as it is so very different, and a complete contrast.
The uniform belonged to Chin Kong, leader of the Tampin District unit of the rebel Armed Protection Corps. The embroidery on the vest itself remains vivid and the detail of the stitched characters is impressive. The translation relates to an award given to the wearer in the Northern Shanxi province during Red October working week.
Chin Kong was fighting as a member of the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party. The MNLA attacked rubber plantations, mines and police station in 1949. Their aim was to free Malaya from British colonial rule. The conflict was referred to as an ‘emergency’ rather than ’war’ because insurers would not have compensated plantation and mine owners if the term ‘war’ was used.
The 1st Battalion the Green Howards were part of the British force sent to combat this threat. The enemy, though never more than 4,000 strong, was elusive hiding out in the jungle. Beating them required weeks of tracking and waiting. It would take ten years to defeat the communists and pave the way for Malayan independence.
You can find out more about the Malayan Emergency by visiting the museum, by downloading the Friends of the Green Howards Museum newsletter which focused on the Malayan Campaign. Digital copies of all the Friends newsletters and magazines are available from the museum shop.