This is Part II of a series. You can read Part I here and Part III here. 

The year 1952 was good for the British effort in Malaya.

It opened with Operation Helsby in February.  A group of Communist Terrorists (CTs) was afflicting the Bellum Valley, near Thailand.   British High Command decided on a combined airborne and ground assault to cleanse the threat.

The ground force of Royal Marines, Gurkhas, and Malay police walked to the target.  A and C Squadrons of SAS paved their way and secured their flanks.

A stick of 60 SAS troopers from B Squadron parachuted in an opening near the enemy camp and pitched a blocking position.  It wasn’t a smooth jump: Of the 60 men, only four landed on the ground intact, the rest were snared on top of the massive 100ft trees crowding the area.  Helped by their comrades, they managed to descend in time for the attack.

Operation Helsby was a mixed success.

True, the valley was cleansed, but few CTs were killed or captured, the rest vanishing in the virgin jungle.

Operation Helsby
Aerial photograph of the landing zone.  Airborne troopers are about to be swallowed by the jungle (

And yet lessons had been learned.  The near-catastrophic parachute drop revealed a need for a new approach to airborne operations.  The SAS set to work.