Captain Shanmuganathan PGB and 207770 Ranger Mat Isa bin Hassan PGB
Friday, September 30, 2005
With the end of Operation Setia 5, Operation Indera was launched on the 10th December 1973. From then on it became a series of Operation's Indera. The 5th Battalion Rangers under the command of Lt Col Harchand Singh (200022) was given a mission, to search and destroy the enemy at the Sungei Ruan, Jerantut and the Kuala Lipis areas in 1974. There were not many signs in that area indicating the activity of the enemy (communist terrorists). The only success was the finding of 14 food dumps in the Jerantut district, by the Police Special Branch. Due to these findings a re-deployment took place. The operational area was re-allocated to the Raub and Bentong districts. B Company under Captain Abdul Ghani (410112) was inserted into the Sungei Liang area of Raub. The point of insertion was Kampong Cheroh in Raub, where deployments was done by trucks. From Kampong Cheroh, the OC split the Company into the respective platoons. Captain Shanmuganathan who was the 2IC of B Company volunteered to lead Platoon No. 6. 2Lt Zakaria bin Abdullah (410738) led Platoon No.5 and 2Lt Basri bin Din led Platoon No.4, Hq B Company was co-located with Platoon No.4. After getting additional supplies at Pimco Estate on the 6th January 1974, the operations to hunt down the enemy was escalated. The OC ordered Platoon No. 5 and 6 to move alongside the left of Sungei Hijau which flowed into Sungei Liang from the North. Platoon 6 moved using the left bank of River Hijau whereas Platoon 5 used the right bank. Platoon 4 along with the OC of B Company moved along Sungei Hijau, near Sungei Liang. After 3 days of operations, on the 7th January 1974 Platoon No.6 under the command of Captain Shanmuganathan came across a large enemy camp, which was guessed to be recently abandoned. The men in Captain Shan's platoon were : 1. 925115 Sgt Ismail bin Rajan 2. 22066 Cpl Mohamad bin Daud 3. 22079 Cpl Ishak bin Endut 4. 22000 LCpl Muhamad bin Ibrahim 5. 929167 LCpl Aloh ak Entabang @ Lotus 6. 22006 Rgr Mohamad bin Abdullah 7. 22064 Rgr Hamdi bin Sewer 8. 22065. Rgr Mohd. Ali Othman bin Alwi 9. 22072 Rgr Ahmad Fathi bin Elias 10. 22077 Rgr Daharudin bin Abu Bakar 11. 22083 Rgr Kamarulzaman bin Abd. Latif 12. 22085 Rgr Mohd. Mahbot bin Hj.Nordin 13. 22091 Rgr Abdul wahab bin Hj.Bunsu 14. 22092 Rgr Mohd. Hatta bin Saimon 15. 22097 Rgr Abdul Rahman 16. 28394 Rgr Tohirin bin Parjan 17. 930931 Rgr Desi ak Tatang 18. 930948 Rgr Engan ak Suud 19. 454643 Rgr Abdul Mutalib bin Hussin 20. 207770 Rgr Mat Isa bin Hassan21.(No. unknown) Rgr Natar After a thorough search of the camp the soldiers found a large cooking area. It was capable of accomodating around 60 people. Apart from that the enemy's sleeping accomodation food scraps were also found. Based on the deep footprints found, Captain Shan assumed that the enemy was bearing heavy loads of supplies, moving to the South of Sungei Liang. He ordered his men to base up for the night not far from the enemy's abandoned location across the river near the foot of a hill. On top of the hill was a banana plantation. The sentry for the night and othe other soldiers reported that they heard the felling of some banana trees. He cautioned everyone to be alert for the night. Most of the soldiers were on stand to for the night (ready for a fight) until dawn. The OC of B Company was informed of this find who had it relayed to the Battalion Tactical Headquarters. Based on the report the OC moved along with Platoon No.4 to the South of Sungei Liang with the intention of trapping the enemy in two planned ambushes. From Captain Shan's assessment the enemy had already crossed Sungei Liang. On the 11th January 1974, he continued tracking the enemy doggedly. He with some men went on a reconnaissance mission to the top of the hill. He and the men confirmed that there were freshly felled banana trees. The enemy was believed to be heading towards Gapis. Platoon No.4 was tasked to head towards Gunung Gapis whilst Platoons Nos. 5 and 6 were to track down the enemy. The problem was Platoon 5 still had not arrived, therefore a re-tasking was done, dedicating Platoon 5's tasks to Platoon 4. The OC decided to wait for Platoon 5 to arrive after which they would proceed towards Gunung Gapis. The reason two platoons were dedicated, was to enable the soldiers to track the enemy in two different directions in the event the enemy split up and in the event there was a contact, reinforcements would not be far off. The OC advised Captain Shan not to expose himself too much as he was the leading platoon commander. The OC's intention was to act as a block at Gunung Gapis by forming an ambush, this was in anticipation that the enemy would head that way. The two platoons ascended the hill where the banana plantation was located. There was an enemy made track on the hill which was very fresh. On the hill they also found the remnants of a fire which was still warm along with uneaten boiled bananas which were warm too. Which meant that they spent the previous night only 250 meters from the enemy ! As they continued tracking the enemy along the track they came across munched sugar cane scraps, which the enemy was chewing on. At 1000 hours Captain Shan reported this new findings to his OC, Captain Abdul Ghani. Captain Abdul Ghani also informed Captain Shan that Platoon No.5 had arrived and that he would be moving towards Gunung Gapis as planned at 1100 hours. The enemy was tracked with great caution by Captain Shan and his men. They were at times about 15 to 20 minutes behind the enemy. After two hours of tracking, Captain Shan ordered a halt for lunch, cautioning his men that the enemy was very near their location. No one was allowed to cook, everything was eaten cold directly from the cans. Captain Shan and his men discussed the course of action in the event they had a contact. He was actually looking forward to battle the enemy and looked happy at that time, related 2Lt Basri who was with him. After lunch the two platoons left their packs with a couple of soldiers to guard them. They continued tracking the enemy. Rgr Desi who was the leading scout gave a hand signal that there was a log lying across an old timber track. He was signalled to continue with the tracking to the left of the track following the enemy tracks. At around 1700 hours they heard the noise of twigs being split. Everyone slowed down. Rgr Desi slowly made his way to a log to take cover behind it. He looked down the hill from behind his cover and saw two of the enemy gathering dry twigs and splitting them. After confirming that there was enemy in front, he made his way back to inform the second leading scout about the presence of the enmy, who was Rgr Md Hatta. Who, quickly mad his way to Captain Shanmuganathan, informing him on what Rgr Desi saw. Rgr Desi meantime went back to continue observing the enemy. He was very anxious as he was alone observing two of the enemy. At around 1700 hours Captain Shan informed 2Lt Basri that he was going to launch a suprise attack on the enemy. He was ordered by Captain Shan to take 15 of his men to act as cut-offs on the left of his axis of assault in 15 minutes time. His plan was to trap the enemy at the bootom of the hill, as he was going to assault downhill. He was excited and told 2Lt Basri that they would be receiving valour awards, after the fight that was about to take place. 2Lt Basri found the going very difficult as there were alot of logs acroos the route to the cut-off point. Rgr Hatta meanwhile made his way back to Rgr Desi who was alone. He told Rgr Desi that Captain Shan told him not to fire upon the enemy until the assault took place. Desi and Hatta could hear the voices of the enemy quite clearly. In about 15 minutes they were joined by Lcpl Aloh, Rgr Mat Isa and Rgr Mohamad. The nearby cut-off parties were in place and the attack would be carried out at 1720 hours.This was to give time to 2Lt Basri's group to be in place. The start of the assault would be the firing of the GPMG (general purpose machine gun or sometimes known as the Mag 58) by Rgr Mat Isa. The weapon was for supporting fire, it was placed on a log with the rest of them taking cover behind it. Right : General Purpose Machine Gun At precisely 1720 hours Rgr Mat Isa squeezed the trigger, by the strange laws of Murphy, the weapon did not fire except that the breech block moved forward making a very distinct sound in the jungle. The sound of the breech block slamming into the chamber was clearly carried over the quietness in the jungles of Sungei Liang. That noise alerted the enemy to the danger. One of the enemy got hold of a pot with a lid and started banging the lid against the pot. The immediate cut-offs opened fire, at a bat of an eyelid, the enemy disappeared. By which time Rgr Mat Isa had sorted out the problem with the GPMG, he started firing. The firing lasted for about 10 minutes. Captain Shan ordered firing to be stopped and ordered the assault to be launched. When the firing halted he launched the attack with cries of ,"Attack! attack ! attack !". With that the men moved out tactically to close up with the enemy. While the attack was being launched 2Lt Basri was only half way to his location, as they were trapped amongst thorns, logs and undergrowth, making movement very difficult. At the same time bullets were slamming all around his group. Meanwhile the attack led by Captain Shan had advanced 50 meters to the bottom of the hill. He looked excited and was seen looking for the dead bodies of the enemy he was expecting to find, related Rgr Desi who was part of the assault team. Rgr Desi urged Captain Shan 3 times to be cautious and not stand up fully to look for the enemy. Rgr Mutalib : As I wanted to get closer to the enemy, I moved to a log under cover to the left of the log. Suddenly one of the enemy opened up from the cover of another log at me. I was just about to crawl under the log when a round hit my right knee. I yelled out to the others that I was shot and not to come near me, indicating the location of the enemy. I asked them to provide me with covering fire to withdraw a little, a bit to the back, to a better cover position as I was in great pain. I heard Captain Shan yell " Support section, covering fire for Mutalib". Rgr Hatta who was behind me came to my aid unfortunately he too was shot. Rgr Desi with Cpl Ishak noticing that their friends were in serious trouble tried to approach them, but both were greeted with a hail of bullets. Captain Shan who was on my right a few feet away too tried to come to my aid. I had to yell at him not to.Telling him that the enemy was still behind the log. Rgr Desi : Captain Shan seeing that Cpl Mutalib was in great danger continued approaching him, then I heard him cry out, "I am hit !" I yelled to him, "Sir, get under cover, save yourself !" I saw him hit the ground in the prone position and his weapon flung to the ground. I informed Cpl Ishak who was at my right that Captain Shan was hit. He in turn relayed the information to Sergeant Ismail, who was the Platoon Sergeant. He ordered Cpl Ishak to give a shot of morphine to Captain Shan and to return to his position, which he managed to do. Cpl Ishak ordered Rgr Isa to take Captain Shan to the rear to prevent him from being shot again by the enemy.
Rgr Wahab, Rgr Mohamad and I laid down heavy covering fire for Rgr Mat Isa, to take Captain Shan to a safe place. Before Rgr Mat Isa could approach him, I heard him call out for his batman, "Mahbot ! Mahbot ! I need water...". Cpl Ishak told him that his batman was taking care of the packs at the assembly area. After a little while he started calling out for his Platoon Sergeant, "Sergeant Ismail.....! Sergeant Ismail...! " After not receiving any replies to his calls. He gave out his last orders with his dying breath,"Please take care of my boys (his soldiers), I have not the strength in me any more....." Out of his sense of loyalty, Rgr Mat Isa seeing and hearing this call, without due regard to his safety and well being dashed towards Captain Shanmuganathan to save him. As he approached his commander, the enemy's bullets slammed into his body causing him to fall across the body of his commander as if to protect him. The battle lasted until 1900 hours at night, after that time the enemy's main body withdrew. Even after the withdrawal we opened fire whennever there was a movement toward our position or whenever the enemy tried to recover some of their weapons. Rgr Mohamad and I were about 7 feet behind the the bodies of Captain Shan and Rgr Mat Isa until the following morning. 2Lt Basri arrived at the ending of the battle, with his Platoon's help we managed to pull out Rgr Mutalib from the front to a safe area. 2Lt Basri : I managed to contact the Platoon Sergeant of No.6 Platoon through the radio, Sergeant Ismail informed me that Captain Shanmuganathan and Rgr Mat Isa were killed in action. 13996 Sergeant Halip bin Itam of No.4 Platoon managed to recover both the bodies, Captain Shan's and Rgr Mat Isa's. He did it by tying a cord to the right hand of Captain Shan. He was afraid that the enemy might place a hand grenade under the body of Captain Shan as he discovered a hand grenade in the clenched fist of Rgr Mat Isa. We carried the two bodies converting our hammocks to improvised stretchers. Two additional stretchers were made to carry the wounded. After the dead and wounded were secured 2Lt Basri conducted the followup in the morning. After 15 minutes of tracking, following the enemy's withdrawal route, a loud explosion was heard. 2Lt Basri ordered a halt. One of the soldier's of Platoon No.4, 21983 Rgr Kassim bin Ibrahim was injured by a booby trap left by the fleeing enemy. He was immediately evacuated to the rear to await the arrival of a helicopter. At 1100 hours a Nuri helicopter arrived to evacuate the two dead and the the 3 injured. For gallantry in the face of the enemy the late Captain Shanmuganathan and Rgr Mat Isa were awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani by His Majesty the King, Al-Sultan Almu'tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu'adzam ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah on the 4th June 1975. The award was presented to the father of Captain Shanmuganathan, Mr. Arampoo al Eliathamby. On the 29th July 1975 the award was presented to L/Bdr Hussin Lee @ Lee Long who was the brother of Rgr Mat Isa at the Palace. * L/Bdr - equivalent rank to a Lance Corporal in the Artillery Regiment which in full is Lance Bombardier Captain Shanmuganathan was from Tanjung Malim in the state of Perak, born on the 20th September 1950. He was the son of Mr Arampoo and Rasamah. He passed his HSC/GCE and enrolled as a Cadet on the 8th May 1968. He was commissioned into the Ranger Corps as a 2Lt to the 5th Battalion Ranger Regiment. He loved leading his men in operations against the enemy. He laid down his life for his country at a very young age of 24, in the prime of life for his beloved Malaysia, fighting the enemies of his nation. Ranger Mat Isa was a Chinese who originated from Bukit Kelian, Selama, Perak. He was born on the 5th January 1948, he was the youngest of 3 children. He was born of Mr. Lee and Moi. His father left the family. His mother remarried a Mr. Hassan bin Mohamad who was an auxillary policeman. Out of love for his foster children Mr. Hassan changed their 'bin' to his name. He derived his early education in Sekolah Melayu Selama and then onto Sekolah Lanjutan, Jalan Menteri, Selama. He joined the Army on the 5th of July 1969. He fell in battle after serving for only 5 years with the 5th Battalion Ranger Regiment. He too fell for his beloved country Malaysia. His mother has yet to overcome her grief since he was killed. He is buried at the Kampong Tengah Cemetry, Selama.