The Liberation War Museum – Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Pakistani troops during an operation against India during the 1971 Liberation War. Photographer unknown.

Opened in March 1996, the Liberation War Museum (Muktijuddho Jadughor) is located in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. The museum commemorates the Bangladesh Liberation War, which took place from 26 March to 16 December 1971 and resulted in East Pakistan becoming the independent nation of Bangladesh.

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The Liberation War Museum at 5 Segun Bagicha Rd, Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

Currently housed in a colonial era white-washed building, near the National Institute of Neurosciences Hospital, the Liberation War Museum is best reached by one of the cage-like, gas powered, CNG taxis as it is some distance from most of the tourist hotels and guesthouses used by international visitors. There are plans to relocate the museum but this has been delayed and in its present location it has six galleries plus a small bookshop and tea stall in the back courtyard. The first room documents the customs, culture and traditions of Bengal and the country’s struggle against colonial control.

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Panoramic view of the galleries in the War Liberation Museum, Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Weapons display at the War Liberation Museum, Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

The second gallery focuses on the period of Pakistani rule from 1947 until 1971, highlighting the plight of the Bengalis and their growing resistance to the economic, political and cultural oppression from the government in Pakistan. The third gallery documents the genocide of 1971, as well as the resistance and declaration of independence.

Hand sewn flag from March 1971 when Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur R

Hand sewn flag from 1971 made around the time Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for resistance to the Pakistanis on the 7th of March. The Bangladesh Liberation War began 18 days later and these flags were produced as a symbol of opposition to the Pakistani forces and to identify the liberation fighters. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Liberation fighter propaganda poster on display at the Liberation War Museum, Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Dusty display cabinets showing bones, ammunition boxes and other artifacts relating to the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani troops. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Human skulls gathered from one of the two ‘Killing fields’ in Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Documentation detail from the War Crimes Fact Finding Committee. Photo: Julian Tennant

Galleries four to six document various aspects of the military struggle against the Pakistanis including weapons, cameras and swimming fins used by a Bangladeshi ‘commando’ diver when planting limpet mines on Pakistani shipping. There is also a selection of human remains recovered from one of the two ‘Killing fields’ that existed in Dhaka during the struggle.

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Graffiti left behind by Pakistani troops and described as being extremely offensive to Islamic teaching by some Bangladeshi’s. Photo: Julian Tennant

Books and camera used by Sector-2 commander Major Khaled Mosharr. Photo: Julian Tennant

Books and camera used by Sector-2 commander Major Khaled Mosharr. Photo: Julian Tennant

Photography is forbidden within the museum and I had to leave my camera at the desk. The staff were not to concerned about my phone though and I was able to sneak some pictures of the artifacts. Unfortunately the quality of these images is quite poor due to the low light, dust covered display cases and the need to photograph quickly and discretely. However the pictures will give you some idea of what is on display.

Fins and photo of Naval Commando Zainal Abedin who was involved

Fins used by Zainal Abedin a ‘commando diver’ who planted limpet mines on Pakistani ships. Photo: Julian Tennant

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Cap and photograph of Major M.A. Khaleque, a Bengali officer commissioned into the Pakistani Army and later executed by them on suspicion of aiding the resistance struggle. The caption states that he was an Intelligence officer however the cap badge indicates Artillery corps. Photo: Julian Tennant

Like some of the other museums that I have visited in the region, budget constraints, climatic conditions and a lack of properly trained conservation staff mean that it an ongoing uphill battle to preserve the artifacts that they exhibit. Cabinets are covered in a thin film of dust and the artifacts, particularly the paper and textile items are showing the effects of poor display conditions despite the best efforts of the staff. The majority of the military related objects are documents, plus a selection of weapons and some equipment items. Captions are in English and provide some interesting insights into the experiences of the resistance movement and the struggle. A new museum site in Agargaon (Dhaka) was acquired in 2009 but construction of the new facilities has fallen behind schedule and the move has not yet been completed.

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Some of the various rusting and antiquated WW2 period weapons on display at the War Liberation Museum, Dhaka. Photo: Julian Tennant

The Liberation War Museum (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ যাদুঘর Muktijuddho Jadughôr) is located at

5 Segun Bagicha, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh

Phone: +880-2-9559091

Fax: +880-2-9559092

mukti@citechco.net

mukti.jadughar@gmail.com

http://www.liberationwarmuseumbd.org

The Liberation War Museum (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ যাদুঘর Muktijuddho Jadughôr)

The Liberation War Museum (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ যাদুঘর Muktijuddho Jadughôr). 5 Segun Bagicha, Shahbagh, Dhaka.

Entry is 100Tk (US$1.20 approx)

The Museum is open everyday except Sunday between
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
In winter it is open between
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Ramadan Time (রমজান সময়সূচি)
10:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

Mukti Bahini liberation fighters pull their rickshaw to the side of the road as an Indian Army Engineer unit passes by. Photographer unknown.

Mukti Bahini liberation fighters pull their rickshaw to the side of the road as an Indian Army Engineer unit passes by. Photographer unknown.

 

Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance galleries

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1 Commando Regiment beret belonging to Private Greg Sher, KIA during a rocket attack in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan 04 January 2009.

I’ve just returned from a weekend trip to Melbourne and on Sunday afternoon, just before heading to the airport I found that I had a couple of hours to kill whilst ‘she who must be obeyed’ spent some time with her sister. I was at Flinders street station so decided to take a walk down St Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance. The walk takes about 10 to 15 minutes and is quite a pleasant stroll, but in retrospect I should have taken the 5 minute tram ride (‘Stop 19 – Shrine of Remembrance’) as it would have given me more time to explore the new Galleries of Remembrance which were still under development last time I visited, back in mid 2014. But, it was a spur of the moment decision and whilst I regret not having more time to look at the exhibits it gave me a taster for my next visit.

 

The Eternal Flame near the footsteps of Victoria's Shrine of Remembrance.

The Eternal Flame near the footsteps of Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance.

Built in 1934, the Shrine is the Victorian state war memorial. It was built to help a grieving Victorian community which lost 19,000 of it’s 114,000 enlistees killed in the First World War. They were buried in distant graves at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad. The Shrine provided a place where Victorians could share their individual and collective grief for the lives that they had lost. Designed by architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop, both World War 1 veterans, it is located in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road and was opened on the 11th of November 1934.
The Galleries of Remembrance were opened to the public on 11 November 2014. It utilizes 1600 square meters in a cathedral-like chamber beneath the Shrine and exhibits over 800 items illustrating the Australian experience of war from the 1850’s until the present day. Because of the time limitations I had, I did not go into the Shrine itself this time, but instead opted to check out these displays. Unfortunately the picture quality isn’t the greatest as they were just snapped on my iphone, but they will give you an idea of what is on the display.

Ballarat Rangers Helmet c.1880 in the Pre-Federation Gallery.

Ballarat Rangers Helmet c.1880 in the Pre-Federation Gallery. This helmet is a rare example of the type worn with the distinctive green uniform of the Ballarat Rangers. Formed on 26th July 1858, the unit was originally known as the Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Regiment but changed its name a month later.

Gallipoli landing lifeboat in the First World War Gallery.

Gallipoli landing lifeboat in the First World War Gallery. Lifeboat No. 5 landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 at around 4.10 am. The lifeboat carried men of the 12th Battalion, the 3rd Field Ambulance and the 3rd Infantry Brigade Headquarters

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Australian Flying Corps pilot’s brevet with officers pips and farriers trade badge in the AFC and 4th Light Horse display in the First World War Gallery.

WW1 Aviators helmet, goggles and jacket in the First World War G

WW1 Aviators helmet, goggles and jacket in the First World War Gallery.

Australian uniform as worn on the Western Front circa 1917.

Australian uniform as worn on the Western Front circa 1917.

First Word War Gallery display.

First Word War Gallery display.

Italian, German and French uniforms in the Second World War Gall

Italian, German and French uniforms in the Second World War Gallery

Australian Kokoda / New Guinea display in the Second World War G

Australian Kokoda / New Guinea display in the Second World War Gallery.

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Shirt worn by Alf Argent (3RAR) as part of the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, Malaya c. 1960.

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Viet Cong embroidered propaganda pendant of Ho Chi Minh in the “1966 The year that changed the world” temporary exhibition.

'Khats' by George Gittoes (March 1993)

‘Khats’ by George Gittoes (March 1993). Australian artist George Gittoes spent time in Somalia with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR). He accompanied soldiers from 1RAR on night patrols in Baidoa and was fascinated by their electronic night vision goggles. He observed that; “People through their goggles lose their humanity… it is like playing a virtual reality game…” Meanwhile a local man experiences his own state of altered reality by chewing the stimulant plant, khat.

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Plaque from Rwanda c. 1995 presented to WO2 Robert Burgess (UNAMIR II) and UNTAC (Cambodia) patches collected by Private David Jess in 1993.

Australian patches related to Iraq 2003 - 2008.

Australian patches related to the Iraq deployments 2003 – 2008.

Afghanistan & Iraq gallery.

Afghanistan & Iraq gallery.

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Disruptive Pattern Desert Uniform (DPDU) shirt worn by Sgt Ricky Morris whilst serving as an engineer in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009.

The Shrine of Remembrance is located on Birdwood Avenue and St Kilda Road, 1.3km from Flinders Street Railway Station. It can be reached by a nice 10 minute walk or by any St Kilda road south bound tram except route number 1. Disembark at tram stop 19 or the Domain Road interchange. If you are using the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle bus, disembark at Stop 13.

Admission is free and it is open from 10:00 until 17:00 (last entry 16:30) everyday except Good Friday and Christmas Day.  For more information visit the Shrine of Remembrance website here.

Australian ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch

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Close up of an Australian helmet featuring the Taji ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch at the dawn service held at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. 25 April 2016. Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF)

On 25 April 2016, Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed to Iraq with Task Group Taji commemorated the Task Group’s first Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. This year’s Anzac day marks the 100th anniversary since the first Anzac Day service in 1916. To commemorate the day a special one-off patch was produced by a Sydney based company for the troops serving with Task Group Taji.

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Australian Army soldier Private Andrew Lawrence from Task Group Taji commemorates Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. The ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch can be seen on the helmet and the issue Task Group Taji patch is visible on his right shoulder. Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF) 

Task Group Taji ANZAC Day 2016 patch

ANZAC Day Iraq 2016 patch produced for  the first ANZAC Day commemoration service at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq.

Personnel from Australia and New Zealand based at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq are part of the broader international Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission training members of the Iraqi security forces. The training includes weapon handling, building clearances and obstacle breaching techniques; as well as training in the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for squad through to company-level operations to use in their fight against Daesh.

Task Group Taji 2016 patch

General issue, Australian manufactured, Task Group Taji patch worn by Australian & New Zealand personnel serving with the Task Group as part of the mission designated Operation OKRA by the Australian Defence Force.

Task Group Taji’s BPC contribution is part of Australia’s broader Defence contribution to Iraq, codenamed Operation OKRA, which includes a Special Operations Task Group and an Air Task Group.

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Australian Army soldier Private Andrew Lawrence from Task Group Taji commemorates Anzac Day at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. 25 April 2016.  Picture by Cpl Jake Sims (ADF)

The Museum of Army Flying (UK)

Museum of Army Flying Middle Wallop, Stockbridge Hampshire SO20 8DY United Kingdom

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

The Museum of Army Flying is located next to the Army Air Corps Centre in Middle Wallop. It covers the history of British Army Aviation from the Royal Engineers Balloon sections through the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps, the Air Observation Post (AOP) Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment to the establishment of the Army Air Corps. As can be expected in an aviation museum there are a nice selection of aircraft for the visitor to examine. But in addition there is a great selection of uniforms, insignia and equipment related to the history and operational deployments of the various units represented in the museum. This includes some absolutely unique items such as the original proposed design for the Air Observation Post Pilots qualification that was prototyped by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. A one off and very interesting piece of insignia.

The original Air Observation Post badge designed by Capt. J.R. Ingram (Royal Artillery) of 657 Air OP Sqn and embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. It was submitted as a design for an Air OP pilot's flying badge, but the war office had already decided to have one Army Flying Badge for both the Air OP and Glider pilots and so it was not approved.

The original Air Observation Post badge designed by Capt. J.R. Ingram (Royal Artillery) of 657 Air OP Sqn and embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework in 1940. It was submitted as a design for an Air OP pilot’s flying badge, but the war office had already decided to have one Army Flying Badge for both the Air OP and Glider pilots and so it was not approved.

The displays are well organized and there is a wealth of information to support the artifacts on display. For a collector with an interest in military aviation or the Allied airborne operations in World War 2 this museum is definitely worth a visit.

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

 

Museum of Army Flying

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

 

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

 

Post 1945 Galleries at the Museum of Army Flying

Post 1945 Galleries at the Museum of Army Flying

 

Early WW2 German airborne forces uniform

Early WW2 German airborne forces uniform

 

Glider Pilot Regiment battledress uniform

WW2 period Glider Pilot Regiment battledress uniform

 

Glider Pilot crash helmet belonging to Staff Sergeant 'Jock' East GPR who served in Sicily and Arnhem. These helmets combined a fibre motorcycle helmet and a flying helmet with headphones for communications.

Glider Pilot crash helmet belonging to Staff Sergeant ‘Jock’ East GPR who served in Sicily and Arnhem. These helmets combined a fibre motorcycle helmet and a flying helmet with headphones for communications.

 

WW2 period Army Flying Badge

WW2 period Army Flying Badge

 

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland display

 

Iraq 2003 display.

Iraq 2003 display

 

Iraq 2003 display.

Iraq 2003 display

 

Apache pilot's life support jacket and associated items used in Afghanistan.

Apache pilot’s life support jacket and associated items used in Afghanistan.

 

Apache pilot - Afghanistan.

Apache pilot – Afghanistan.

 

Royal Marines pilot

Royal Marines pilot

 

Uniform worn by the Royal Engineers Balloon Section

Uniform worn by the Royal Engineers Balloon Section

 

Royal Flying Corps Pilot

Royal Flying Corps Pilot

 

RFC pilot

Royal Flying Corps pilot

 

Air Observation Post Squadron pilot (Royal Artillery).

WW2 period Air Observation Post Squadron pilot (Royal Artillery)

 

Glider Pilot

WW2 period Glider Pilot

 

Post WW2 AOP Squadron pilot.

AOP Squadron pilot

 

Post war AOP pilot

 

WW1 Field Kitchen

WW1 Field Kitchen

 

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

Aircraft Hall at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop

 

Glider Pilot Regiment Pilot wings. At first all Glider Pilots were awarded the Army Flying Badge (top). From 1944 new pilots were initially trained as Second Pilots and awarded the Second Glider Pilot Badge (middle). Successful completion of a Heavy Glider Conversion Course qualified Second Pilots for the Army Flying Badge. This system operated until 1950 when glider training ceased. In 1946 a smaller pattern of the Army Flying BAdge was adopted (bottom).

Glider Pilot Regiment Pilot wings. At first all Glider Pilots were awarded the Army Flying Badge (top). From 1944 new pilots were initially trained as Second Pilots and awarded the Second Glider Pilot Badge (middle). Successful completion of a Heavy Glider Conversion Course qualified Second Pilots for the Army Flying Badge. This system operated until 1950 when glider training ceased. In 1946 a smaller pattern of the Army Flying Badge was adopted (bottom).

 

D-Day Glider lift diorama

D-Day Glider lift diorama

 

Proposed AAC dress hat, not adopted.

Proposed AAC dress hat, not adopted.

 

On 1st September 1957, the AOP Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment amalgamated to form the present day Army Air Corps. AAC pilots wear the Army Flying Badge (top). The middle brevet is for Observers and the bottom badge is the Air Gunner's brevet.

On 1st September 1957, the AOP Squadrons and Glider Pilot Regiment amalgamated to form the present day Army Air Corps. AAC pilots wear the Army Flying Badge (top). The middle brevet is for Observers and the bottom badge is the Air Gunner’s brevet.

 

 

Museum of Army Flying

Middle Wallop,

Stockbridge

Hampshire SO20 8DY

United Kingdom

 

+44 1264 784421

http://www.armyflying.com/

enquiries@flying-museum.org.uk

 

Open daily 10:00 – 16:30 (Last admission 16:00)
Adult: £10

Senior/Student: £8

Child: £7

Family Ticket £32 (2 Adults 2 Children)

Malaysia trip report #1- Two days in KL.

For my latest trip to Vietnam I decided to fly AirAsia and stop over in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days to check out some of the military related museums and also see if I could find any interesting bits of militaria for my collection. Browsing the net I identified the Royal Malaysian Police Museum, the Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum and the Malaysian Armed Forces Museum as places of interest. I wasn’t able to find much information on militaria or antique dealers worth visiting, but fellow collector Sin Cheng Soon came to the rescue and suggested a couple of places which may be worthwhile.

Day 1. The Royal Malaysian Police Museum. First stop was the Royal Malaysian Police Museum, which is located at Lake Gardens, adjacent to the KL Bird Park, National Planetarium and a short walk from the Islamic Art Museum. Whilst walking past the latter I noticed an advertisement highlighting their arms and armour collection so decided, if time permitted, to include it on my itinerary.

One of the many interesting armoured vehicles found in the grounds of the Police Museum, the "Armoured Wickham Trolley" (AWT) armoured car was used by the Federation of Malaya Police during the emergency from 1953 until 1960 as a pilot train and guard vehicle. It carried up to six policemen at any one time.

One of the many interesting armoured vehicles found in the grounds of the Police Museum, the “Armoured Wickham Trolley” (AWT) armoured car was used by the Federation of Malaya Police during the emergency from 1953 until 1960 as a pilot train and guard vehicle. It carried up to six policemen at any one time.

Entry to the museum is free but photography is forbidden within the exhibition areas. The restriction on photography was a disappointment as the museum is extremely well planned and executed, with some very interesting and unusual artefacts that will be of interest to all militaria enthusiasts. I was able to discretely take some photos on my iphone, but they really do not do justice to the museum.

Royal Malaysian Police Museum

As can be expected, the various regional as well as Federal police forces in Malaysia played an important role in the ‘Emergency,’ which was in reality a guerrilla war but so named because of commercial concerns regarding the terminology and its effect on insurance policies. The museum is divided into four principle areas. The grounds surrounding the building feature a number of the larger exhibits including armoured vehicles, numerous artillery pieces, a police boat and fixed wing Cessna aircraft.

Pre Federation uniforms and plaques in Gallery A of the Police Museum.

Pre Federation uniforms and plaques in Gallery A of the Police Museum.

Federated Malay States Police Cap, 1920

Federated Malay States Police Cap, 1920

'Songkok' (cap) used by the Deputy Commissioner of Johore Police

‘Songkok’ (cap) used by the Deputy Commissioner of Johore Police

Entering the first exhibition area, Gallery A, you can see the various uniforms and insignia worn by the different regional police units since formation in Penang in 1807. There are also weapons, artefacts and a good overview of how Law & Order was maintained in the Malacca Sultanate era, through conquest by the Portuguese in 1511, then Dutch and finally British rule.

Improvised 'hand guns' made by chopping down .303 Lee Enfield bolt action rifles.

Improvised ‘hand guns’ made by chopping down .303 Lee Enfield bolt action rifles.

Quite an unusual item in Gallery B. A very rarely seen grenade launcher built on to an M-2 Carbine. Up until seeing this example in Gallery B I thought that the only option for this weapon was the M8 series grenade launchers.

Quite an unusual item in Gallery B. A very rarely seen grenade launcher built on to an M-2 Carbine. Up until seeing this example in Gallery B I thought that the only option for this weapon was the M8 type launchers.

Gallery B continues the historical timeline and also includes the weapons gallery, which includes a very interesting cross section of small arms used by the police forces and also seized during the Emergency. There are some interesting examples of modified and home made weapons, including .303 SMLE rifles that had been ‘chopped down’ and converted to pistols as well as firearms ‘scratch-built’ by the Communist guerrillas in their secret workshops. There are also displays of medals and contemporary police uniforms within this gallery.

Gallery C features displays from the ‘Emergency period’, the ‘Confrontation’ with Indonesia as well as more displays relating to general policing and criminal activities. As with the other galleries, there are interesting ‘case histories’ throughout the exhibits giving insights into criminal gangs and specific incidents. I found the Royal Malaysian Police Museum to be extremely well planned, the exhibits to be well preserved and presented.

Royal Malaysian Police Museum, 5 Jalan Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Open 10am to 6 pm everyday except on Mondays. 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6pm on Fridays. Tel: +6 03 2272 5689

A selection of current Malaysian badges on display in the shop window of Uni Karisma Dagang shop at the Pertama Complex

A selection of current Malaysian badges in the shop window of Uni Karisma Dagang shop at the Pertama Complex

Militaria Shops. Fellow collector Sin Cheng Soon suggested a couple of places that I could check out. First stop was the Malay Trading Company a military tailor’s shop that has been around for some time. It can be quite difficult to find and even my taxi driver had to ask for directions to confirm its location, so if you’re a first time visitor planning to visit, print out a map, the address and take a taxi. Whist there are still some faded 1950’s era posters, featuring British rank and qualification insignia on the walls, stocks of any of these are long gone and the shop only has a limited range of contemporary Royal Malaysian Armed Forces uniform items available for sale. They do still manufacture many badges and all their metal insignia has their MTC logo stamped on the reverse. I was able to pick up some generic Malaysian parachutist and pilots wings for my collection, but no specific unit insignia.

Exterior of the long running 'Malaya Trading Company'. Because of its slightly hard to find location, I'd suggest using a taxi and take a map. My driver had to stop twice to ask for directions to the exact location.

Exterior of the long running ‘Malaya Trading Company’. Because of its slightly hard to find location, I’d suggest using a taxi and take a map. My driver had to stop twice to ask for directions to the exact location.

TSG Malaysia Trading SDN. BHD, formerly known as the Malaya Trading Company.

TSG Malaysia Trading SDN. BHD, formerly known as the Malaya Trading Company.

TSG Malaysia Trading SDN. BHD (Formerly known as Malaya Trading Co.) 93 Jalan Medan Bunus Jalan Masjid India 50100, KL Ph: +60 3 2698 5825

Location of Malaya Trading Co and Pertama Complex military tailors

Using my map I was able to walk from the Malaya Trading Company to the Pertama Centre, which is one of KL’s older shopping malls. Squeezed in the left corner on the bottom floor are a couple more military tailor’s stores which feature more of the same, although the selection is somewhat larger than the MTC and includes some camouflage, field gear and equipment items. If you are chasing contemporary Malaysian military items and you know precisely what you are looking for, including the Malaysian names then these guys may have it, but once again, only contemporary issue items and I was unable to find any older obsolete insignia. The larger of the two shops is

Uni Karisma Dagang GF 06, Imej Ceria Pertama Complex Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, 50100 Kuala Lumpur Ph: +60 3 2694 1229

Uni Karisma Dagang, tucked away in the bottom corner of the Pertama Complex.

Uni Karisma Dagang, tucked away in the bottom corner of the Pertama Complex.

Day 2. The plan was to visit the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces Museum (Muzium Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) that according to the information gleaned from the Internet was supposed to be located within the Army base at Jalan Padang Tembak. However upon arrival I was told that the museum had been relocated to the town of Port Dickson, so nothing to report here.

Aircraft hanger at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum

Aircraft hanger at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum

Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum.  Next on the list was the Air Force Museum, which was quite easy to find as it’s located at the old KL airport which can be seen from the freeway as you drive in to Kuala Lumpur from the International Airport.

Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum

Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum

I was particularly interested in the uniform and insignia exhibits, however these were all closed for renovation and when I asked when they would be reopening, the Air Force Duty Officer said that he did not know as they were awaiting a budgetary allocation to commence the refit. So, instead I had to be content with the aircraft hanger containing the various obsolete aircraft that had been used by the RMAF over the course of its history and the selection of rusting hulks in the field outside. Worth a visit if you are an aircraft buff, but at the present time, there is nothing else of interest as everything apart from the aircraft hanger is closed to the public. If you are an aviation patch collector you can buy examples of all the RMAF Squadron patches for RM10 each at the entrance gate.

The selection of RMAF patches available for sale at the Air Force museum.

The selection of RMAF patches available for sale at the Air Force museum.

Royal Malaysian Air Force Museum c/o RMAF Base Jalan Lapangan Terbang Lama, 50460 KL Ph: +60 3 241 1133 ext 4129 / 4198 Open: 10am – 4pm Saturday – Thursday Closed: Fridays and public holidays. http://www.malaysian-musuems.org/rmaf

National Museum Negara. The small selection of items related to the Japanese occupation of Malaya during WW2.

National Museum Negara. The small selection of items related to the Japanese occupation of Malaya during WW2.

So, with a bit of time on my hands, I decided to head to the Islamic Art Museum to check out their Arms & Armour collection. Along the way I stopped off at the National Museum Negara, which details the history and peoples of Malaysia. Like the Police museum this is a first class museum with good exhibits that are well presented and preserved. There isn’t a great deal of military items on display, I was hoping for more about the Colonial period and Japanese occupation during WW2 (a bicycle, Jap helmet and a few swords) but it does exhibit some interesting examples of Malaysian Kris’ and other regional edged weapons.

Islamic Art Museum Malaysia. Another well-presented museum where photography is prohibited, the museum, as it’s name suggests, details the art and design related to the Islamic faith. I particularly enjoyed looking at the scale models outlining significant mosques throughout the world and their small selection of arms & armour dating back several centuries is well worth a look.

Islamic Art Muesum. Ottoman Turk double-barrelled flintlock pistol with concealed dagger. Walnut woodwork inlaid with silver and overlaid with gold. Circa 19th Century.

Islamic Art Muesum. Ottoman Turk double-barrelled flintlock pistol with concealed dagger. Walnut woodwork inlaid with silver and overlaid with gold. Circa 19th Century.

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia Jalan Lembah Perdana 50480 Kuala Lumpur Ph: +60 3-2274 2020 Open: 10am – 6pm everyday Admission: RM12 (adult) http://www.iamm.org.my

Overall, I found that with some planning, the two days transit time that I had before heading to Vietnam were more than sufficient to cover the areas I wanted to see, plus still have time to relax with a cold beer and escape the oppressive humidity. English is widely spoken so there is no difficulty in communicating or reading the descriptive plaques at the museums. I mostly used a taxi to commute between locations and I would suggest that if doing the same, only take one where the driver is prepared to use the meter, in my experience these guys are more honest and helpful than the taxi’s loitering near the tourist traps who insist on outrageous fixed prices and are quite reluctant to find specific locations if they’re not immediately known to them. On my return journey I’ll pass through Malacca where I visit the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum and return to KL via Port Dickson so that I can see the Armed Forces Museum.

Revisiting Vietnam’s infamous Dan Sinh “War Surplus” Market

Deciding to collect Vietnam War militaria is fraught with danger as the marketplace is saturated with fakes and reproductions. I was fortunate that during my first trip to Vietnam in 1997, the late Peter Aitken (who was then at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra) introduced me to a Vietnamese friend of his in Saigon who was able to guide me through the minefield that Vietnam War militaria had already become. I arrived in Saigon with ideas of finding rare Vietnamese Airborne insignia and left convinced that only the brave or foolish would start collecting militaria from the ‘American War’ period… And this was before eBay and the Internet started to take off as a source for collectors!!!

One of the first places that we visited was the Dan Sinh market, also known as the ‘War Surplus’ or ‘American’ market it is the place where much of the supposed Vietnam War militaria originate. Situated at 104 Yersin next door to the Phung Son Tu pagoda, it consists of a rabbit warren of stalls offering everything from electrical parts to footwear. Part of the market consists of small stalls selling military related items. During that first visit most of the stuff was related, in appearance, if not actual age or authenticity, to the 1962 – 75 period but more recently the reproducers have started to include post Vietnam war conflicts and one can find copies of current issue US army multicam, British desert DPM and Australian DPCU camouflage uniforms and equipment amongst the usual ‘junk’.

As collectors become more aware of the Vietnam era fakes being produced at the market, the manufacturers have turned to other areas and conflicts, including these poorly copied British SAS insignia.

Faked French, Rhodesian and contemporary multicam jackets.

Australian DPCU bush-hat. This camouflage pattern wasn’t introduced until 1988, long after the war ended… and this wide brimmed style sometime in the 90’s.

During that first trip my guide, Loi and I devised a system to identify the fakes and at the same time protect him from recriminations from the sellers. If I found something that I liked I would pick it up, inspect it and then pass it on to him. He would look at it, mutter something like “very nice” then, if it was genuine, hand it back to me and if not, place it back on the table. I quickly became disappointed as everything from MACV SOG patches to ARVN Ranger helmets were placed back on the table. The thing that I didn’t fully grasp at the time was that after the war and the economic difficulties that followed the ‘surplus’ was either recycled or whenever possible, broken down to it’s component parts, brass, aluminium, acrylic etc and sold as scrap. It was only after Vietnam reopened to Western tourism and foreign interest in the war became apparent that the potential of the war legacy became apparent. A lot of the remaining bits and pieces disappeared quickly, but the demand was there and the ever-resourceful Vietnamese started to fill demand by reproducing the items that were in demand.

Make no mistake; the guys at Dan Sinh are not fools and know what the state of the marketplace is for their creations… and as collectors become more savvy they shift their focus to take advantage of new opportunities. Over the years I have returned many times and come to know some of the dealers reasonably well. Even back in the 90’s they were already aware of what was in demand and were producing items for unsuspecting collectors. Unscrupulous western dealers had been visiting Vietnam and providing the designs and reference material for their ‘orders’ since the 80’s and the Vietnamese were more than happy to oblige. During that trip in 97 I was shocked to see that one dealer had a copy of the out of print and extremely sought after “Special Forces of the United States Army 1952-2002by LTC Ian D. W. Sutherland (Ret). Back then, one could expect to pay $200+ for a copy if you could find one and these guys were using it as a standard reference (a ‘gift’ of a US based dealer/customer) for their creations. During a visit around 2007 or 2008, one of the main guys at Dan Sinh showed me an autographed copy of a Schiffer published reference book on insignia from a certain US branch of service. Nothing unusual in that, but what threw me was when he admitted that he was asked by the author, to make the insignia for the book and many of those same rare patches are still being offered for sale (as authentic) by the author via his eBay store. That’s not hearsay; I gleaned that bit of info during a recorded interview with the maker of the fakes. I shudder to think how many people use that book as a reference and placed their trust in the author as a ‘reputable’ dealer.

Current retail (not wholesale) price for these supposedly rare flags… $5 to $10 each

The lesson that I learnt during that first trip was to view all items from the Vietnam War with suspicion. I have a modest collection of Vietnam War period ARVN Airborne, Australian SAS and AATTV items, but tread very carefully. If it doesn’t have provenance, I’ll pass on it. There’s just too much shit out there. I would go as far to say that 99% of the Vietnam War militaria that you can find on eBay are faked, everything from maps and paperwork, through uniforms to aircraft gauges. Supposedly rare MACV SOG patches can be bought for as little as $1 each, wholesale, VC flags, $5 – $10, Zippos (and there will be an entire post devoted to the changes I’ve seen over the years) about $5 retail and less for bulk purchases. Recently I’ve even found reproductions such as those made by George Peterson’s NCHS in the USA being brought IN to the markets and offered by one of the sellers as original.

Reproductions (including those made and sold by NCHS in the USA) such as the ARVN Special Forces beret badge near the left corner of the picture are being brought into the Dan Sinh market where they are being resold as ‘original’. Click here for a link to the NHCS listing of the same copy.

As a collector, visiting the Dan Sinh market is a ‘must do’ on any Vietnam itinerary; just don’t fall for the bullshit. Unlike my first visit, these days many, but not all, of the dealers will admit that the items are copies and one or two will even offer to make the items that you require. It’s definitely worth a visit, but if the experience doesn’t make you want to steer well clear of collecting Vietnam War militaria… well then you need counselling.

The Dan Sinh Market is open until about 6pm but many of the militaria dealers start closing up around 5. It can be found at 104 Yersin, District 1 and is open every day.