The Richard Noone
Expedition to Vietnam
Richard Noone was an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service who briefly served as part of Sir Robert Thompson's British Advisory Mission to Vietnam. An anthropologist by training, Noone came to Malaya in 1939 to live with and study indigenous tribes. During World War II, Noone and his brother Pat organized agent networks among the Malays against the Japanese.
After the war, Noone became head of the Malayan Department of Aborigines, where he organized paramilitary forces from the indigenous tribes against the Communists. He later put his skills to use as both an anthropologist and an expert in special operations during the Indonesian confrontation as commander of the special operations base in Sabah Borneo.
In the course of his anthropological research, Noone discovered that one of the Malay tribes, with whom he worked, was related to the Montagnard tribes of the central highlands of Vietnam. In the early 1960's, he led a Special Forces team, composed of ethnic Malayo-Polynesian tribesmen, to Vietnam to work with the Montagnard tribes against the Viet Cong. The two groups were so similar that virtually no linguistic or cultural barrier existed between them. However, the Vietnamese Government attached a Vietnamese A-team from their own Special Force's to Noone's expedition. The Vietnamese became suspicious of Noone and his men because of their ethnic closeness to the Montagnard (who the Vietnamese never really trusted) and animosity developed between the Vietnamese and Noone's men. The animosity became unbearable and Noone had to request his team's removal from Vietnam.
Noone became a counterinsurgency adviser to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). He died in 1973 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Barry Petersen and John Cribbin, Tiger Men: An Australian Soldier's Secret War in Vietnam, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1988.
Sir Robert Thompson, Make for hills: Memories of Far Asian Wars, London, Leo Cooper 1989