Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
Stories Of Valour
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on
Afganistan's plains and
the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle
and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier”
“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”
“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”
“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.
“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,
for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.
“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
The Soldier stood and faced God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as bright as his brass
"Step forward you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint."
I've had to work on Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep.
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
The Soldier squared his shoulders and said
And I never passed a cry for help
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here,
Lord, It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was silence all around the throne
Where the saints had often trod
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you Soldier,
You've borne your burden well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
| Remembering Our Military In The Congo (ONUC) 1960.
| Tuesday, November 03, 2020
On November 3rd 1960, C Squadron 2 Recce (now 2 Armour) minus the Rifle Troop had arrived at the Leopoldville (Kinshasa) Railway Station in the morning. Despite the ongoing strike, we managed to successfully unload all our vehicles, aa great deal through our own effort by the afternoon.
All our Ferret armoured cars were lined up and ready to roll by 1500 hours. It was going to be a show parade driving past "Le Royal", ONUC HQ enroute to our new Camp Ozone.
Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku,
This was a nice PR exercise to showcase the Armoured element of our Malayan Special Force to the UN and the local populace. No soft skinned vehicles, only the 18 Ferret Scout Cars coloured in Port Dickson green driven in a single file. The irony was, we were led by a non Armoured Volkswagen Beetle driven by Maj Desmond Furney, an Irish man seconded to 1 Recce Regiment and employed as our Senior Liaison Officer at ONUC HQ.
At around 1600 hours, the long thin line of 18 Ferret Scout Cars followed the the Volkswagen of Maj Furney on a momentous journey for the drive past to our new camp. Maj Zain Hashim led in the leading Ferret, 2/Lts Tan Siew Soo in the 3rd Ferret, Philip Lee Khui Fui in the 7th Ferret, Tee Bua Bian in the 11th Ferret and Teoh Say Chee in the 15th Ferret.
Unknown to most of us then, Lt Gen Carl Von Horn (a Swede), UN Supreme Commander appeared smiling at the window of the 6th Floor. What was more obvious and very touching was clearly the friendly wave of hands by the many UN staff particularly the Secretaries who had gathered at the balcony to greet and welcome us.
It is an occasion like this that makes one extremely proud of the uniform and the Regiment to which one belongs!!
TAN SIEW SOO, Lt Col (Retired) ARMOUR
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:17 AM
| On this day, 60 years ago Malaysia's(Malaya then) first ever contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Operation
| Thursday, October 01, 2020
|MSF officers with the USN officers of LST 1169. |
Front row: 2/Lt Philip Lee, Capt Loh Sai Kee, USN, Maj Robert Mahmud Yusof, Lt Cdr LST Capt, Maj Zain Hashim, USN, Capt EWC Rodriques, Capt(Dr) Dennis Lopes.
Rear: Capt Zainal Dato Ahmad, 2/Lt Tan Siew Soo, Capt C Dorairaju, 2/Lt Ahmad Che Wan, Hon Lt Syed Alwi Syed Hassan, Lt Omar Musajee, 2/Lt Aziz Saif, 2/Lt Annuar Hashim and 2/Lt Tee Bua Bian.
The Malayan Special Force (MSF) departed for the Congo. Earlier on 28 September, the wheeled element consisting of 18 Ferret armoured cars and all soft skinned vehicles and stores motored down to the Royal Malaysian Naval Base in Woodlands, Singapore awaiting the arrival two US Navy Landing Ship Tank (LST). When loading waas completed we departed Woodlands on the evening of 02 October for Port Swettenham (Klang).
Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku
TAN SIEW SOO, Lt Col (rtd) ARMOUR.
|The Troop Carrier|
The two LSTs arrived at Port Swettenham in the morning and berthed around 0800 hours. At the wharf we joined the main contingent which was already formed up for the address by the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj. The Port scene was spectacular, packed with relatives, friends, well wishers and others to senf off this Special Force. The full compliment of 43 officers and 613 men paraded at the wharf, led by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ungku Nazaruddin Ungku Mohamed (Bruno).
|All the Officers|
One significant point the Prime Minister mentioned was :
".... while you are abroad you will uphold the good name of the Federation of Malaya. I hope you will remember the Malay proverb, Biar puteh tulang, jangan puteh mata, (better death than dishonour )...."
This piece of advice was taken to heart by this first group of MSF.
As soon as the speech was over, Single Pioneer and Twin Pioneer aircrafts of our young RMAF flew past in salutation. The troops then boarded the two LSTs to begin a most memorable 28 day non-stop voyage to the Port of Matadi in the Congo.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 8:50 PM
| Dying For a Noble Cause by James Ritchie
| Monday, December 02, 2019
Sometime in the mid1990s a band of vetgerans led by the late ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong formed the inaugural branch of the Sarawak’s Veterans Association of Malaysia.
|Sgt Dajai PGB with Awang anak Raweh George Cross|
Their objective was to assist in the welfare of the hundreds of “forgotten”Sarawak policemen attached to the Border Scouts (BS), Police Field Force (PFF), Special Branch (SB) as the Sarawak Ranger Regiment.
ASP Gomez, a Sarawak Iban lawyer Gomez and Ranger Regiment Warrant Officer Dajai anak Angie were among committee decorated who had won Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) which is Malaysia’s second highest award for gallantry.
Under the constitution and by virtue of being the son of Sarawak’s first Malaysian Commissioner of Police, I was appointed honorary secretary.
It was family friend Hthe Veterans Association of Malaysia in 1955-- who motivated Sarawak to start our own separate veterans association.
Harold who operated as a guerilla while living with Semai community of Cameron Highlands, likened the Dayaks to the loyal Orang Asli community who had joined the anti-Japanese army fight the Japanese.
After the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Harold felt that both the Orang Asli and Dayaks of Sarawak were not duly rewarded or recognised by the government and so he formed the Penang Veterans Association in 1996.
At that time a census by the Sarawak veterans association showed there were a large number of “forgotten” members of the security forces—including a few score of ex-trackers, about 1,000 Border Scouts, Sarawak PFF, SB and Sarawak Ranger Regiment personnel.
Even today, there are several hundred surviving Border Scouts and Sarawak soldiers who had served the country well but felt they were short-changed.
Among the families some of forgotten heroes are that of Cpl Natu bin Kadir who was killed by communists in a roadblock along the Old Serian road in 1952, Cpl Kim Huat and PCs Bujang Mohamad, Wan Jamaluddin and Insol anak Chundang who were killed in the Limbang Rebellion of 1962 and former Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan’s brother Sgt Simon Peter who was killed defending the Siburan police station against terrorists.
Others who sacrificed their lives for the country were PFF commander Supt Johnny Mustapha after he was killed in a comunist ambush at Stabau in Sibu together with PCs Nuing anak Saling and Abang Masri Mohd Nor on April 6, 1975
Nearly 50 Border Scouts have been killed while defending the country—nine Kenyah natives against Indonesian terrorists at Long Jawe in Belaga and 12 Iban against the communists at Ulu Sungei Ngemah in Kanowit on August 27, 1970
Special branch Inspector Herman Wong Teck Hung who was assassinated by two terrorists on a motor-cycle in front of his home at Jalan Oya in Sibu on December 1, 1970 was the most senior special branch officer to be killed.
One of the most tragic deaths was the killing of Iban headman Penghulu Imban anak Medan who was tortured by the before he was shot and his body mutilated by terrorists at his longhouse at Nanga Skuau on February 25, 1972.
The terrorists had promised to spare his life if he agreed to work with them, but he refused and was brutalised before he was murdered.
In a letter to the Chief Minister on March 10, 2002 Sarawak’s Special Branch head the late Datuk Lawrence Lim Eng Liong said that the Sarawak Communists took care of their comrades even after they were killed.
He said that in the case of the death of Iban communist leader Ubong anak Nuing hundreds of former communists turned up at his funeral.
Lawrence who gave a copy of the letter to me personal lamented:
“If Ubong is accorded as a hero, why not the late Supt Johnny Mustapha, Inspector Harmon Wong, Sergeant Major Edward Kula and Cpl Kong Siew Lung and forty five other police personnel?
“What about the military—eighty of them personnel from 1st Ranger and the Malay Regiment? What about the civilians, including the late Penghulu Imban and 120 three of them? They all lost their lives, gone with history, named also forgotten, being buried in the files.”
Even though Lawrence passed away on January 7, 2006, his plea has not fallen upon deaf ears.
Three former Sarawak policemen who served Sarawak well and died for the country--Supt Johnny Mustapha, the late Special Branch chief Datuk Alli Kawi who was one of those who played a role in the surrender of the communist leader Bong Kee Chok in 1973 and Malaysia’s surviving recipient of the George Cross Awang anak Raweng—received State awards in 2018.
As the saying goes—better late than never!
But the fact remains that are scores of other brave ordinary Sarawak still waiting in the wings hoping against hope that all things are possible?
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:23 AM
| “Tuai Rumah” Harold Speldewinde—Fighter with a Cause - Eurasian Harold Anak Speldewinde is one of a kind by James Ritchie
At 17 years old, the stocky rugby player from Penang was forced to become a fugitive for championing the cause of the people during the Japanese invasion.
He had joined the Penang Eurasian Volunteer “E” Company under Lt A. Wilwebber, was “bodyguard” for the freedom fighter M Saravanamuttu who helped bring about a situation of calm during the bombing of Penang on December 8, 1941 where tragically thousands were killed or wounded.
Together with Saravanamuttu, better know as Uncle Sara, and another Eurasian Oswald Foley, they helped evacuate several British Officers who were fleeing to Singapore.
The three of them drove a truck to pick up the officers, taking them to Sungei Pinang, before putting them on a “tongkang” with food and water during a midnight operation.
Uncle Sara was arrested by the Japanese for being a British Collaborator and locked in a cell measuring eight by eight feet for nine months. However, Harold
Within weeks of the Japanese invasion was a wanted man with a $500 price on his head.
Taking to the jungles of Pahang, he spent the war years on the run while living with the Orang Asli Semai tribe with his young wife Molly Macintyre and first-born son.
While this happening his father, Claire Alexandra Speldewinde, joined the South East Asia Command in Peredenia in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).The Ceylon-born Eurasian Dutch Burgher had been transferred to Malaya as a forester in the early 1900s before establishing his own rubber plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Harold’s youngest brother Ernie accompanied his father to Ceylon, while brother Bill joined the British Navy and Dick based himself in Kuala Lumpur.
In a recent interview with 84-years old “uncle” Harold at his Bukit Glugor home in Penang he reminisced.
“Heroes like Uncle Sara used a wireless to appeal to the invading forces to stop the bombing and Ivan Allen who had cycled to Sungei Petani to inform the Japanese there that the British had fled. This helped prevent a greater onslaught of the local folk.
“For all our sacrifices were not remembered, not even a word of thanks from the British,” he said.
Uncle Harold who celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary on May 24 also spoke of how he managed to marry his childhood sweet Molly while still on the run.
“While in the jungle I was able to communicate with Molly through messages
which were sent through secret couriers and friends. I also sneaked into Penang to meet her when I could.”
After a simple wedding ceremony in Penang, Harold went back to the jungles of Cameron Highlands with his young wife to carry on the struggle. Their hideout was within the operation are of the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) of whom the famous Chin Peng was a leader (later it was renamed Force 136).
Molly recalled the day she arrived at her new jungle home. “We walked from midnight to noon before reaching an Orang Asli hut on a steep hill.”
They were living near a 200-strong Semai community who had vowed to protect them. After all, they Orang Asli had close association with the caring Claire Speldewine who had worked in the area as a forester and rubber planter and that was the least they could do for his son.
Harold continued:” We lived on a hill while the Orang Asli was in a valley about two kilometers away.
We had only a few clothes and the stream nearby was our toilet. We fished in the river using traps such as “bubo”, ate ubi kayu, bamboo shots and small mamals, if they were available.
“I carried a carbine rifle but had no opportunity to use it. The Orang Asli was like sentries and would alert us if the enemy was approaching. So this is now we spent the war years.”
Their son.....was born in the jungle and it was a great celebration for not only the Spendewindes but also the orang Asli.
After the war Harold went on to become a planter and this led him to Sabah. Here he found new friends and his name was associated with the big-time planters in Malaysia.
Later on Harold went on to form the Penang Veterans Association of which is he still president. He also was a patron of the Persatuan Veteran Keselamatan Malaysia and opened a branch office in Sarawak. Lawyer and retired police ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong, a recipient of the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) award for bravery, was its first President and James Ritchie, its secretary.
During this time Harold and his veteran team from the peninsular visited several longhouses in Ulu Julau and Lubok to catch up with the Iban trekkers, retired Sarawak Rangers, war veterans and Border Scouts, enquiring about their welfare. A census showed there were several hundred over the age of 60 who were still surviving.
During one of the visits Harold was conferred the honorary title “Tuai Rumah” Harold anak Speldewinde, a position which he accepted with pride.
At that time Wilfred and “Tuai Rumah” Harold concurred that the government should set up a special Sarawak veterans association to look into the welfare of these old timers. During that time there was also an exchange programme where Sarawak’s veterans such as “Sape” player Uchau Bilung and others took part in cultural performances, including blowpipe skills. Some of the veterans even visited the Orang Asli famous for their Senoi Praque trekker unit.
Harold who was a past President of the Penang Eurasian Association went on to restore Fort Cornwallis and is now on a new mission—to unravel the mystery of the Penang Cenotaph—a monument built by the British in the 1920s.
“The Penang Cenotaph is a monument which is dedicated to all the war veterans who sacrificed their lives to make Malaysia a safer place for everyone. However, it appears that none of our historians know when it was exactly constructed,” he lamented.
While on his quest to find out more about the history behind the Cenotaph, Harold is thinking of making a sentimental journey to Sarawak sometime soon.
“I had operations on both my legs but there are still not that strong to take me far. However, I must come back to Sarawak.”
If I know the Octogenarian well, he will live up to his war cry-Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban!!
See you soon "Tuai Rumah" Harold.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:12 AM
| Battle of Limbang - Brave Policemen By James Ritchie
| Thursday, November 28, 2019
|Limbang - Sir Jeremy Moore|
In the early hours of December 8, 1962 the rural town of Limbang underwent an infamous insurrection which shook Sarawak as it was preparing for become Independent.
This was the long-forgotten “Battle of Limbang” when several hundred Kedayan rebels led by former Sarawak constabulary Sgt Salleh Sambas, captured the shantytown, the hospital and government offices and took the British Resident and his wife hostage.
However, in an epic fight nine brave Sarawak policemen from the Iban, Malay, Bidayuh, Selakau and Melanau communities, defended their station with their 303 rifles in a fierce gun five-hour battle before it finally fell.
But not before losing four dead Sarawak policemen and four dead rebels and a dozen others injured.
In the last moments of the capture and fall of the police station, two Police constables—an Iban from Simanggang and Selekau from Lundu-- swore to fight to the death despite being surrounded by dozens of armed rebels.
It was a life-and death occasion for Iban bren gunner PC Bisop anak Kunjan who recalled the tragic incident that occurred 57 years ago Bisop who was 22 at that time said: “The incident is still clear in my mind when we lost four loyal policemen.”
The dead policemen were Bidayuh Cpl Kim Huat from Kuching and PCs Wan Jamaluddin, Bujang bin Mohamad and Insol anak Chundang, an Iban.
The events unfolded a day after a rebellion had taken place in neighbouring Brunei—hours by river or road. Station office Inspector Latiff Basah, had just alerted his men when the attack took place.
An Iban from Undop in Simanggang, Bisop said that as a precaution Latiff placed a loaded light machine gun on top of the counter of the charge room with instructions that if we came under attack the first man there should man the weapon.
At 2 a.m. on that fateful day Bisop thought he was dreaming when he heard his colleague Wan Jamaluddin bin Tuanku Alek shouting “musuh...musuh” (enemy… enemy). ”
In his underwear and singlet, Bisop jumped out of bed and rushed to the charge room and to his horror realised Jamaluddin, a Malay from Kuching, had already been killed in the initial attack and was lying just outside police station compound.
Next to him was a dead rebel whom Jamaluddin had shot.
The attack came when Jamaluddin dashed into the barracks to alert his colleagues. He returned to his post but was killed outside the station by a section of the 300 to 400 armed rebels who had captured the town.
He reminisced: “I dashed to my bed, wore my pengaroh amulet around my neck and went back to the counter still in my white underpants. I started firing at the rebels who were now trying to get into the station.
“I saw several rebels trying to enter the police station.
Then I realised that the enemy who were only armed with shotguns could see us under the lights of the police station. So I fired a shot at the charge room’s florescence light and the whole room went dark.”
Bisop who was an expert gunner having trained at the Police Training School in Kuching when he was a recruit in 1960, said only a handful of constables they tried to defend the station.
Among those who agreed to fight to the death were Cpl Kim Huat, Cpl Muling anak Musan, PC Sanggah, a Selakau from Lundu, P.C. Essa bin Marataim, PC Insol anak Chundang and PC Bujang bin Mohamad.
Reminiscing, Bisop continued: “In the initial attack Essa managed to kill a rebel who tried to enter the charge room from the back door. But he ran out of ammunition and climbed into the ceiling of the barracks with his rifle. He remained there without food but drank some rain water that seeped through the belian atap, for four days until Limbang was relieved.”
“In the midst of the battle we ran of ammunition and Cpl Kim Huat got the key to the armoury.
We used the rifle barrel to force open the wooden ammunition box and continued to fight. I picked and chose when to fire single shots or bursts of gunfire at the enemy who surrounded the station.
“At about 2.50 a.m. Cpl Kim Huat, a Bidayuh from Kuching, was shot but died 15 minutes later crying out “mother I’m dying.”
From then on there was sporadic fighting - most of the married couples and their families had fled from the police barracks–while only half the policemen stayed on to fight.
At the government office, PC Zaini bin Titun was on duty when the rebels tried to enter the premises.
He fled and along the way and met Cpl Muling who killed one rebel and inflicted serious injury on nine others.
Corporal Muling and Zaini was captured later in the morning but the former suceeded in escaping the following day.
In the meantime Insol who was engaging the rebels from outside the police station tried to enter the charge room to assist the others but was shot in the back and died shortly after. Next to fall was Bujang but not before he killed two rebels.
As time passed slowly, they suddenly heard a Kadayan rebel shouting out shouting in Malay “Keluar…kami orang sudah pegang perintah…bagus kamu serah.” (Better surrender because we now have taken over the government.)
Bisop continued: “When I heard that, I was furious because they had killed PC Bujang had been killed before my eyes. I replied in Malay-Kadayan dialect saying “Kami tidak mau serah diri…kalau berani, Lawan Tia!) (We will not surrender…if you dare, let us fight to the death).
At that point only two policemen--Bisop and Sanggah were defending the outpost. “I made a pact with Sanggah and said we should defend the station with our lives. I said I would shoot him if he tried to leave his post and he agreed to shoot me if I did the same”.
At about 7 a.m. Bisop heard the voice of the Resident, R.H. Morris outside the police station pleading to the duo to give up. By then they had held out for almost five hours.
“Resident Morris called out to us at least five times but I refused to respond. He was in the hands of four to five armed rebels. After considering the possibility that the rebels would kill Morris if we did not obey, both Sanggah and I agreed to come out.
“As we were left the building in daylight, I noticed there were 16 rebels lying injured or dead near the gate of the police compound and the ground of the main entrance.
I think a number of them were hit by bullets from my machine gun.”
Among those detained at the police barracks were the officer in command of the station Inspector Latif Basah who had been wounded but later captured, Sanggah, Titun and Bisop together other policemen who had surrendered.
Sarawak Information officer Alistair Morrison in the "The Gallant story of the Defence of Limbang" described the incident:
"This is the story of heroism--Sarawak heroism--of how a handful of police held out against a violent onslaught by hundreds of rebels. It is a story that must be told to Sarawak in full.
"Shortly after 2 o'clock they opened fire on the police station, the batchelor police barracks and the house of Inspector Latip. The OCS, Inspector Latip, came out of his house firing his sterling. He was soon shot through the arm and succeeded in crawling across the road and hiding himself in the river behind the bank.
"The station and barrack room behind were occupied by nine of the 18 policemen then in Limbang.
The rebels crept quietly close to the wire fence and opened a barrage of shotgun fire while some climbed over the fence.
"Police constable Essa in the police barrack loft remained there without food or drink apart from some rain water he collected in his hand through the the billian ataps, for four days until Limbang was relieved. He kept his rifle with him all the time.
All the other members of the force were also taken prisoner, five of them in their married quarters.
“The fight put up by the police in Limbang, was a splendid example of good morale, devotion to duty, and aggressive spirit. The police never had a chance against such overwhelming numbers but they showed great bravery and tenacity in holding out to the bitter end until ordered to surrender by the Resident.
“Those who were able to take part in the actual fighting were representative cross-section of Sarawak's racial makeup. These men have written a splendid page in Sarawak's history and one which will never be forgotten."
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 1:22 AM
| A Malaysian from Sarawak with the Highest Decoration for Gallantry and Valor by James Ritchie
| Monday, October 21, 2019
MALAYSIA’S sole George Cross recipient, Awang anak Raweng, never wanted the publicity that came with an act of valour in Johor 63 years ago, when he saved the life of a British private.
|Awang anak Raweh 2nd from Left with the Queen|
|With his two sons|
The incident occurred at about 9 a.m. on May 27, 1951 when the Iban tracker’s 20-man platoon was ambushed by a group of 50 Communist Terrorists (CTs) while they were seeking out the enemy in Kluang.
The 86-year-old “Tua Kampung” (headman) of Nanga Skrang recalled that in the first burst of gunfire three of his colleagues, including a second lieutenant, were killed.
|With Prince Charles|
“Three British soldiers were dead while two others were badly hurt,” he recalled. “When I realised that we were outnumbered, I ran across to the soldiers who were lying in the open. The CTs who were perched on top of a hill opened fire but the bullets did not hit me.”
Awang then dragged one of the injured privates, Griff Hughes, into the underbrush and stood his ground. While defending his position, Awang was shot in the thigh and arm.
He added: “How could I abandon Private Hughes? I was only 19 and he was hardly older. I told myself, and also somehow communicated to Hughes, that if we were to die, we would die fighting.”
Finally, after holding his position for almost six hours, the reinforcements arrived and the CTs had fled.
Within a year, Awang would become the only Sarawakian or Malayan to be awarded Britain’s highest civilian award, the George Cross, and with the formation of he Federation of Malaysia on September 1963, he would be invited to attend the biennial Victoria Cross and George Cross Veterans Day gathering at Buckingham Palace.
He is one of only nine George Cross and 20 Victor Cross survivors.
Meeting Queen Elizabeth in 2014 In a 2014 interview with Awang, he reflected: “After Malaysia was formed, the British government invited me to Buckingham palace every two years, where I would meet Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and, more recently, Prince Charles.
“But the saddest thing is that while I was a guest of out former colonial masters, I was never invited to any Heroes Day event until very recently…I was very conveniently forgotten!”
A tracker in the British army, Awang had been enlisted in December 1950 and a month after his training he was attached to the
10th Platoon, D Company of the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment when the incident occurred.
Awang, who was given a private dinner and some pocket money by Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing at a restaurant on Friday night on October 24, 1014.
Awang said that the biggest insult came when he was invited for the Merdeka Parade in Kuala Lumpur in 2011. Awang, who is illiterate, added: “I thought finally, it was worth the wait and that at last they would recognise my sacrifice to the Nation. The organisers paid for my airline ticket and those of my two grandsons
“But sadly we were treated like peasants…when I asked if we could have our daily allowance, one of the members of the organising committee gave me RM20 – our allowance for the day. We returned to Sarawak feeling very insulted.”
Awang said the fault could lie with the Merdeka Day organising committee and not the top officials, who were unaware of contributions.
“Actually, I have never wanted all the publicity but if that is the way we treat our own kind, then it is going to be a very sad day.”
Elite Iban Trackers Awang had belonged to the elite Iban trackers who served during the Malayan Emergency from 1948-1960.
Groups of Iban trackers were recruited as “scouts” and attached to the British units to help in the defence against the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).
By 1950 there were a total of 484 Iban Trackers serving in the Federal Civil Liaison Corps in Malaya. In 1953 they were organised into a regimental formation as the Sarawak Rangers, among whom was the late Malaysian hero Kanang anak Langkau.
In 1961 Awang donated a parcel of land to the community school SK Nanga Skrang. Later in the mid 2000s, when his old house collapsed, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who was the Minister of Defence, when the Malaysian armed forces rebuilt his home.
Marion Hebblethwaite in her book “One Step Further” states: “During operations against the bandits in Malaya a section of a platoon of the Worcestershire Regiment was ambushed by about 50 of the enemy. The leading scout was killed instantly and the Section Commander fatally wounded.
“Awang anak Raweng was hit through the thigh bone and at the same time, a soldier, moving behind him, was hit below the knee, the bullet completely shattering the bone.
Awang anak Raweng although wounded and lying exposed under heavy fire and automatic fire, collected his own weapons and that of the soldier and dragged him into the cover of the jungle.
“In view of the impending bandit attack, Awang, completely disregarding his own wound, took up a position to defend the injured man. There he remained, firing on every attempt made by the bandits to approach, and successfully drove off several attacks.
1: Medal Background
The George Cross (GC): The George Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on the 24 September 1940.
King George VI had been greatly moved by the fortitude and courage displayed by many civilians and by those engaged in bomb and mine disposal duties during the Blitz, and wanted these outstanding acts of bravery to be suitably recognised.
Several awards already existed for which civilians were eligible and which could also be given to servicemen and women for acts of great heroism performed in circumstances other than battle. These awards included the Empire Gallantry Medal, the Albert Medals for Saving Life on Land and at Sea and the Edward Medals for Mines and Industry, but none matched the distinction of the Victoria Cross. The King, with his advisors, decided to create a new decoration which would be equivalent in status with the VC.
The Empire Gallantry Medal was abolished and surviving holders, together with those who had been awarded it posthumously since the outbreak of war, had their medals exchanged for the George Cross. Awards of the Albert and Edwards Medals continued, but by the early 1970's it was acknowledged that there was little public appreciation of their importance. No further awards were made, and in 1971 it was announced that surviving holders of these medals would have their awards translated to the George Cross.
A total of 397 men and women plus 1 country (Malta) and 1 organisation (Royal Ulster Constabulary) have been award the George Cross.
There was no provision for the payment of any annuity contained in the original Warrant. However, from 4 February 1965 living holders of the GC were granted a tax-free annuity of 100. The figure remained at 100 until 15 August 1995 when it was raised to 1300.
The George Cross (GC) is the second highest award of the United Kingdom honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "not in the face of the enemy" to members of the British armed forces and to British civilians.
The George Cross medal is attached by ring to bar ornamented with laurel leaves, through which the ribbon passes.
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award of the United Kingdom honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" to members of the British armed forces. It may be awarded posthumously. ... Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients.
1.2 His full citation in The London Gazette reads:
AWANG anak RAWANG. Iban Tracker, Johore, Federation of Malaya.
During operations against the bandits in Malaya a section of a platoon of the Worcestersbire Regiment was ambushed by about 50 of the enemy. The leading scout was killed instantly and the Section Commander fatally wounded. Awang anak Rawang was hit through the thigh bone and at the same time a soldier, moving behind him, was hit below the knee, the bullet completely shattering the bone.
Awang anak Rawang. although wounded and lying exposed under heavy rifle and automatic fire, collected his own weapons and that of the soldier and dragged him into the cover of the jungle. In view of the impending bandit attack Awaug. completely disregarding his own wound, took up a position to defend the injured man. There he remained, firing on every attempt made by the bandits to approach, and successfully drove off several attacks.
Ultimately Awang was again wounded, the bullet shattering his right arm and rendering further use of his rifle or parang impossible. Despite loss of blood from his undressed wounds, be dragged himself over to the wounded soldier and took a grenade from the man s pouch. He resumed his position on guard, pulled out the pin of the grenade with his teeth and with the missile in his left band defied the bandits to approach.
So resolute was his demeanour that the bandits, who had maintained their attacks for some forty minutes, and who were now threatened by the other sections, withdrew.
The coolness, fortitude and offensive spirit displayed by Awang anak Rawang were of the highest order. Despite being twice severely wounded he showed the utmost courage and resolution to continue the fight and protect the injured soldier.
1.3 Worcestershire Regimental History records the following action:
On 26th May 1951, 12 Platoon, D Company (2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, R.A.O.C. att. 1 Worc. R.) were encamped in some rubber on Ulu Paloh Estate, three miles West of Niyor. At about 1530 hours one of the platoon sentries was fired on by a party of eight terrorists. The sentry returned the fire and the terrorists withdrew in a North-Westerly direction. The Platoon Commander then took two sections in pursuit of the terrorists, but after making a wide circling movement through the jungle could find no trace of the enemy and returned to base.
The following morning (27th May) the Platoon Commander, with two sections, set out once more in search of the enemy. They moved due West into the jungle and followed a narrow track, which had jungle on the left and felled jungle on the high ground to the right. The track was used by woodcutters who were engaged in cutting the jungle further back,
Having moved about a quarter of a mile into the jungle, the leading section came under very heavy automatic fire from the front and left flank.
The patrol went to ground and returned the fire. In the first few minutes Private Dykes, the leading scout, was killed. The section commander (Corporal Stanton), two more privates (Hughes and Payne), and the Iban tracker (Awang anak Rawang), were wounded. The Platoon Commander shouted several times to Corporal Stanton to withdraw his section, but he received no reply. 2/Lieut. Morris then moved back and deployed the rear section to the left; they then engaged the terrorists as best they could. 2/Lieut. Morris moved forward again to investigate the state of the leading section. During this time he fired two complete magazines from his carbine.
The Platoon Commander was killed shortly afterwards, but the Platoon fought on for about forty minutes, when the terrorists withdrew.
The sound of the firing had been heard back at the Company base, and the Company Commander, with two platoons, moved out and arrived at the scene of the action about an hour later.
During the action Private Hughes fell wounded in the middle of the track, and Awang anak Rawang, the Iban tracker, although wounded himself and lying in an exposed position, dragged Private Hughes under cover of a fallen tree.
From behind the tree Awang defended Hughes and continued to engage the terrorists when they tried to approach. For his gallantry Awang anak Rawang was subsequently awarded the George Cross. He was the first, and at the time of writing the only, Iban tracker to receive such an honour.
The casualties in the action were 2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, Corporal B. Stanton and Private N. Dykes killed, and the wounded were Private G. Hughes, Private N. Payne and the Iban.
The enemy lost three killed, including Lap Kwang, the company commander and a terrorist leader of repute. The terrorists numbered about fifty and were later identified as 3 Platoon and 7 Platoon, 4 Company, of the 9th Regiment. The two sections of 12 Platoon had a total strength of between fifteen and twenty.
A George Medal for ASP Menggong: By James Ritchie
On November 13, 1952.19-year-old Michael Menggong and Pangit, a lance corporal with the 1st Battalion Cameronians Scottish Rifles, won the George Medal-Britain’s second highest civilian award for courage in a battle with CTs in the Air Panas estate in Labis, Johore.
Born at Nanga Delok in Lubok Antu on April 12, 1933 was recruited bythe British army in 1948 by faking his age; he told them he was 18 years of age when he was barely 15.
Even his parents did not know where he had disappeared to until he reached Port Dickson for a short two-week training stint before being sent to the jungle.
Following his two-week stint Menggong received more training with the 42nd Royal Marine Commandoes, Special Air Service Regiment and a Vietcong tactical course. Relating the incident on that fateful November day to the writer, Menggong was one of the 20 soldiers (14 of whom were Iban while the rest were British) under Commanding officer Lieutenant Bald whop had walked into a large CT ambush.
“In the first burst of fire the Lieutenant was killed. I took charge of the situation. Realising that it was now a matter of life and death, I urged our under-strength team to pushed forward for retreat would have meant certain death.
”During the 30-minute gun-battle I charged at the enemy with my stengun and together with his men finally captured the camp.
The CTs fled with their wounded and some of their dead.” However, the situation was still delicate because the CTs outnumbered the British unit.
Immediately after that Menggong who was armed with his Stengun and four grenades, decided to go for help rather than stay and wait for a counter attack. He left his men to guard the body of the dead Lieutenant while he trekked 3.5km alone through enemy territory to get help from the Tenang Estate base camp.
After the hour-long journey, Lance Cpl Menggong reported the encounter with the enemy and then returned almost immediately with 200 soldiers and rescued the remaining soldiers. Over the next two weeks Menggong and his men joined in the follow-up operations and had eight other encounters with the CTs.
Lance Cpl Menggong received the George Medal from General Sir Gerald Templer at a ceremony at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on June 16 1954.
His letter of commendation was signed by the Commander in chief of the Far East Land Forces General Sir Charles Keightley.
Later in 1957 Menggong left the army to return to Sarawak where he joined the Police Field Force and saw action during Brunei Rebellion, Confrontation years and fight against the Sarawak Communist Organisation (SCO).
He rose to the rank of ASP and was involved in the hunt for the Communist leader Bong Kee Chok in 1973. Bong surrfendered in October that year and signed a MOU which led to the Sri Aman peace accord. Menggong died of a heart attack several years after retirement.
Two of his children are working in the army and police-.
2.1: Medal Background
The George Medal (GM) is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.
The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the George Medal would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.
Announcing the new award, the King said:
"In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution."
The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941. It is granted in recognition of "acts of great bravery."
The GM was originally not issued posthumously, however the warrant was amended in 1977 to for such awards, several of which have been subsequently made.
The medal is primarily a civilian award; however The George Medal may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct which is not in the face of the enemy. As the Warrant states:
"The Medal is intended primarily for civilians and award in Our military services is to be confined to actions for which purely military Honours are not normally granted. Bars are awarded to the GM in recognition of the performance of further acts of bravery meriting the award. In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters GM.
Details of all awards to British and Commonwealth recipients are published in the London Gazette.
The George Medal is a circular silver medal. The obverse depicts the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch and a legend.
The reverse show St. George on horseback slaying the dragon on the coast of England, with the legend THE GEORGE MEDAL around the top edge of the medal
The ribbon is red with five equally spaced thin blue stripes. The blue colour is taken from the George Cross ribbon
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 12:43 AM
| The adventures of Johnny Ritchie by James Ritchie
| Friday, October 18, 2019
Sarawak should count their blessings that the hazy days are over and must thank Mother Nature as it prepares to send the annual North-East “Landas” monsoon in our direction starting November.
After the haze which was one of the worst in recent times, we can expect to receive showers of blessing which will replenish the burnt padi fields heralding a new spring.
To think of it, I first arrived in Kuching December, at the height of the Landas 52 years ago.
The Landas toughened our resolve as my younger brother and I were sent to Sarawak—third class by ship from Port Klang--where we were shacked up in the lower deck for three days and two nights.
As tough as we thought we were, we initially had to ride out the stormy South China Sea and suffering in silence in the ship’s hull, we survived on an apple and some water throughout the journey.
A few days before Christmas of 1967, a Marine police speedboat with my parents and senior officers approached our ship which had arrived near Santubong. We hopped on hoping to take a ride back to our new home next to Fort Margherita.
However, my mother challenged me and said: “Sandy (my nickname) lets swim to Santubong village,” and dived into the sea heading for the beach 150 yards away.
I followed suit in my underpants and as I reached the Santubong shore I was stung by a jelly fish.
But I survived to tell this tale after my father’s right hand Iban officer Supt Ramsay Jitam came to my rescue--he urinated on my burning black and blue leg, this being the antidote since vinegar was not available!
And that was how I arrived in Sarawak-- in a Baptism of Fire.
I was fortunate to be born into a family of a compassionate father who was the posthumous child of Scottish miner Alexander Hector Ritchie from Aberdeen—home of Scottish national hero and King, Robert the Bruce.
The oldest son of a wealthy battle ranch owner from Old Meldrum; William Ritchie owned 146 acres of land and had six servants. Alexander was the oldest in a family of 14 siblings where four of the older children died young.
In 1901 Alexander left Scotland to seek his fortune in Malaya but fell ill 13 years later and died at the age of 36.
.Grandfather was buried in the Batu Gajah Christian cemetery on September 14, 1914 where expatriates and Colonial war heroes such as Iban tracker Unggat Ujom from Baleh were buried. Unggat died fighting the communists on September 7, 1955 during Malayan Emergency and his remains were later reinterred at the Heroes Cemetery in Kuching in 2011.
My father John George Ritchie was raised by his mother Tan Kim Phoon in a Thai-Chinese village about a mile from the old Jalan Bendahara-Jalan Datuk junction in Ipoh.
But when my father was 12 another tragedy occurred when his mother contracted Bubonic Plague and died.
Twice orphaned, my father was adopted into a Scottish family and sent to Anglo Chinese School in Ipoh where he excelled in sport and became Perak’s champion athlete winning the Victor Ludorum.Cup in 1934.
After leaving school with a Senior Cambridge certificate he stared work as a teacher and cycled daily 15 mile to Tanjong Rambutan for a handsome monthly salary of $20.
In 1935, like my grandfather, he left with a few dollars in his pocket to seek his fortune in Singapore.
It was here that he became a police Inspector and after serving 30 years rose and soon after Independence become Sarawak’s first Malaysian Commissioner of Police.
Prior to Sarawak, my father who was Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Kedah developed close ties with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who was responsible for sending my father to Kuching.
In Kuching my father befriended opposition leaders such as SNAP’s Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan and SUPP’s Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui. To be fair, he also developed a close relationship with a young cabinet minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who later became Chief Minister of Sarawak.
It was a momentous era as my father streamlined the Sarawak Constabulary and leading to the formation Sarawak contingent of the Royal Malaysian Police and hand-picked Tan Sri Hamdan Sirat as his successor.
A champion of the underdog, my father’s fair to all the communities and sympathetic to the cause of the underdog and was not afraid to face adversity. He recalled an incident when he was asked by the Federal government to terminate the services of several hundred Kelabit Border Scouts from Bario, but refused.
In his memoir “The Adventures of Johny Ritchie” my father wrote:
“The fattened calf was slaughtered for the occasion…I in return was assigned to give notices of termination of service to these people. This would render them jobless and deprive the families from additional source of income.
“So I decided on the spot to give them their dismissal notices. I was quite prepared to face a reprimand from the authorities in Kuala Lumpur.”
Though he was later side-lined by the Federal government for “speaking the truth”, the Sarawak State government of Tun Taib honoured him for services with the title Dato Sri”, albeit 20 years later
During the Sarawak Communist Insurgency between 1963 and 1990, many of the officers and men were largely neglected by the government namely the Border Scouts.
During this time at least 100 police personal half of whom were Border Scouts, were either killed or injured.
During the late 1990s the Persatuan Veteran Keselamatan, Cawangan Sarawak or Veterans Association of Malaysia, Sarawak branch headed by former police hero the late ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong and I as honorary secretary, worked very hard to help the forgotten Border Scouts without success.
We travelled to various parts of Sarawak and met with their families and made promises hoping for government intervention.
But none came.
Even though my father was one of the luckier ones, there are still many disgruntled and disillusioned former policemen in disarray and left in the lurch.
Several months ago my father’s close aide and commander of the Sarawak Police Field Force (PFF) Supt Johnny Mustapha who was killed in a communist ambush in Sibu in 1975 was posthumously given the coveted Sarawak title “Datuk Amar”—44 years later:
Similarly, another former tracker Awang anak Raweng,87, recipient of the coveted United Kingdom’s George Cross (GC) which he won in 1950 while saving an injured British soldier in Johore, has not been recognised by Kuala Lumpur.
Awang was only given a Sarawak state title at the same time as Datuk Amar Johnny Mustapha—69 years later.
In the meantime two of Sarawak’s sole survivors of Malaysia’s Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) PFF Sgt Ngalinuh Bala and Cpl Itim anak Bijam who fought off dozens of armed Terrorists near Sibu and saved the lives of half a dozen men, have been forgotten for their part in the epic battle in 1972—47 years ago.
Ngalinuh who was badly injured, was honoured by the Kelabit community last year and given a menial State award, is now wheelchair-bound while Itim who is partially deaf—no thanks to the hundreds of round she fired trying to save men whom he saved—can only hope the Iban community will do the same for him.
The time has come for us to own up and honour our unsung heroes.
And as the saying goes, better late than never.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:42 AM
| 'I gave them a second chance': Veteran recalls combating communists
| Saturday, September 07, 2019
Malaysiakini :Paul Kiong spent more than a decade fighting communists in Perak during the Second Malayan Emergency from 1968 to 1989.
But now, the former Special Branch officer calls the 40 or so guerrillas he captured alive close friends.
"Three weeks ago, I met up with an ex-CT (communist terrorist), husband and wife, in Puchong, and we had tea."I used to have tea with them every now and again, they are very close to me. "Why
are they close to me? Did they fall in love with me? No. It is simply
because I gave them a second chance, I didn't kill them," he said.
was speaking today at the Taman Tugu Human Library (TTHL) project, an
event held on the first Sunday of each month at the Taman Tugu Nursery
in Kuala Lumpur.
The former guerrillas he met in Puchong, he said, are now successful farmers. "I
am writing my memoir, but if there is any doubt or anything that I
forget, I will contact all the ex-communists who were with me and those
"We are still good friends. Kaodim (settle) here, then it is okay already," he said, tapping his finger against his head. Kiong (photo) was referring to the re-education of captured communists for reintegration into society.
part of TTHL, Kiong was relating his experiences fighting against the
communists to an audience of about 30 people crowding around a square
metal table. He recalled how he infiltrated the communists'
underground branch and went undercover as a courier and driver in order
to gather more intelligence on their operations. Eventually, he said, the SB had also infiltrated the militant branch by supplying them rations.
'A dead body to me is useless'
Despite all the information they managed to obtain, Kiong said, the SB tried their best to capture the guerrillas alive. "The SB's policy is not to kill. We do not believe in the American war strategy in Vietnam (where they do a) body count. "A
dead body to me is a useless body. Why? He doesn't give me anything. It
is a piece of meat, that is all. Why must you kill him when you can
capture him alive? "He, too, has a mother, a family. He has his siblings. His family is also looking forward to see him. "It is only here that is the problem," he said, pointing to his head.
Similarly, Kiong added, his first priority back then was his family. "The only thing you can ask for is to do your best and come out alive. Why? Because your family needs you.
"The inspector-general of police will replace you tomorrow, but there is no replacement for your family. "So you come back for your family first, then you talk about your organisation. Commitment to your family first," he said.
Courage under fire
being of only four living veteran police officers awarded the Seri
Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa medal – the highest federal award for acts of
courage and bravery in the field – Kiong admits that in a way, he was
also a coward. "I am scared to die. I am scared I will miss my
loved ones, but because I am scared to die, I planned my operations to
perfection, 110 percent, no mistakes. "You cannot afford to make a mistake. I used the element of fear to plan the best. "I made sure. I wanted to come home to my family, to my children." The TTHL today also featured a number of other veterans relating their experiences to an eager crowd.
Veterans include former
Port Dickson MP and retired navy rear admiral Danyal Balagopal Abdullah
and retired brigadier-general Mohamed Arshad Raji.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:45 PM