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Keighley veteran awarded Malaysia medal
A Keighley ex-serviceman has been given a medal for his part in Britain's "forgotten" jungle war.
Charles Waddington this month became the 200th veteran of the Malayan Emergency to be awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal.
The present government of Malaysia gives the award to honour British, Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in the conflict.
Several years of warfare during the 1950s in Malaya and Borneo against Communist insurgents led to the country's independence.
Charles, 73, who lives in Denby Road, Woodhouse, spent nine years in the Royal Engineers during the late 1950s and early 1960s including three years in Malaya and Borneo.
He spent much of his time building an airfield for the Royal Air Force, which later became North Borneo's international airport.
While working, the Royal Engineers had protection from Ghurkas and an SAS regiment.
Charles's wife Kathleen and son Phillip travelled out to live with him, and second son Peter was born during their stay.
Kathleen said: “It took six weeks by sea to go out and join him. We were isolated downstairs for the six weeks because a young lad had whooping cough.”
After leaving the army Charles is now a member of the Northern Malay and Borneo Veterans Association and attends its reunion in Coventry every year with Kathleen.
The association arranges the medal for members, liaising with the Malaysian government and carrying out extensive checks to ensure each applicant is eligible.
Charles's application has taken six years to go through. The medal's citation honours the “distinguished chivalry, gallantry, sacrifice or loyalty” of peacekeeping troops.
The Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal initially proved controversial, with the British government refusing to let veterans wear it because it was contrary to British Medals Policy.
Last year permission was given for the first time for British veterans to wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal as part of Remembrance commemorations.