A BARRHEAD veteran of a ‘forgotten war’ has finally received a medal in honour of his service – more than 60 years later.

Donnie McInnes, of Seaforth Crescent, served in the Royal Engineers in Malaya, as it was then known, at the start of a decade-long conflict in the region.

Now, more than six decades later, he has been awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal (PJM) in recognition of his contribution, although getting his hands on it has been a battle in itself.

The medal was commissioned by the Malaysian government to recognise the sacrifice made by British and Commonwealth troops to defend the country’s independence from communist aggression at the height of the Cold War, between 1957 and 1966.

For Barrhead community councillor Donnie, who was just 19 at the time, his involvement began after being sent to an English base as part of his National Service.

He said: “I was chosen to go on an air photographic interpretation course in Oxford. I was looking at all the people around me who were getting to go home for 48-hour leave, which I couldn’t manage, coming from Scotland.

“I didn’t like being left to run the camp for all these English guys who could just head home at every opportunity, so when I was asked where I wanted to be posted, I wrote ‘Far East’ three times. I think they got the message.”

Donnie was sent to a base in Singapore and, after a few months, was posted to Malaya, in what is now Kuala Lumpur, where he was part of an air photographic intelligence operation.

He said: “The RAF flew the sorties and would take photographs of areas that were giving us some concern. From those, we would make mosaics giving us up-to-date maps of the jungle and the activity within it.”

Donnie spent around 18 months in Malaya. However, despite more than 100,000 men serving during the hostilities, which lasted longer than the Second World War, and more than 2,000 being killed, the conflict is not widely known about, earning it the title of ‘The Forgotten War.’

The Malaysian government sought to put this right with the introduction of the PMJ medal in 2005 but it was only weeks ago that Donnie finally received his.

Delivered to him in a presentation case, there are three versions of the medal, for wearing with civilian clothing and different types of military dress.

Donnie said: “I had to pursue it as an individual because we were a regiment, not an infantry group. Royal Engineers were taken from all over the country.

“I tried going through the Ministry of Defence and local politicians but they all knocked me back.

“Finally, I wrote to the Malaysian Embassy and they couldn’t have been more helpful. I am absolutely delighted with it. It was worth making the effort.”