Correction in this story, on the name of Lenggu's wife. His wife's name was Lindan ak Galau, she is the daughter of Tuai Rumah Galau,Nanga Engkuah. Thanks to Sekechai, for this information. Further information I received from a Guest in the comments was this: 901759 Sergeant Nyanggau ak Sumping PPS, BBS, was the unsung hero who came up with the iniative to light up the Landing Point with solid fuel (hexamine tablets) to facilitate the the safe landing of a RMAF helicopter at night to airlift 2Lt Annuar Basha togther with the wounded soldiers. Without his courage efforts and initiative to save his fellow soldiers lives, the RMAF helicopter would not have made it to airlift the wounded heroes.
The 3rd Malaysian Infantry Brigade was under the the command of the 1st Division in Region 2.
The Commander of Region 2 was a Major General Dato Syed Mohamad bin Syed Ahmad Al-Sagoff. Whereas 3 Brigade was commanded by Brig Gen Mohamad Ghazali bin Dato Mohamad Seth. The Tactical Headquarters of 3 Brigade was located at Kanowit. This was during Operations Spear Head 111.
The units involved in this operations were the 1st Battalion Rangers,
1st Squadron Special Forces and the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment. All units were tasked to clear the areas between the border of Sarawak and Kalimantan, heading South until Batang Rajang. Before the Commander of 1 Div left the service he made a courtesy call on the 1st Battalion Rangers, which was based in Nanga Engkuah, Sungei Katibas, Song. The Commanding Officer at that time was Lt Col Syed Abdul Aziz bin Syed Razak. The CO was to join the Divisional Commander at a farewell party organised by the civillian authorities in Sibu for the night.
2Lt Anuar Basha Khan bi Hj Zakaria (410438),
was contacted by his CO on the morning of the 20th January 1971 at around 1100 hours through the radio set. He was at that time the Regimental Signals Officer, his CO directed him to go to Nanga Bangkit, which was located in the Sungei Katibas area, in the lower Nanga Engkuah area. He was tasked to inform all the heads of the long houses (Tuai Rumah) to come to the 1st Rangers Tactical Headquarters for a Civic Action Meeting, between the CO of 1st Rangers and the Elders of the Long Houses, on the 21st January 1971. Apart from that, they were required to find out the construction materials needed to build a hostel for students in Nanga Bangkit by the Assault Pioneer Platoon of the 1st Rangers.
Before lunch, 2Lt Anuar instructed 901161 WO 2 Lenggu ak China
to prepare 12 men
for the move, including the CSMI (Lenggu ak China). The rest of the party were 901564 Rgr Umok ak Mambang, 901326 Rgr Lian Anyi, 901564 Rgr Limping ak Gayang, 901468 Rgr Engkas ak Judik, 901591 Rgr Nawawi bin Saffie, 901685 Rgr Kelabu ak Nyalang, 901720 Rgr Midong ak Gundi, 901686 Rgr Suntai ak Duin, 901422 Rgr Shaffiee bib Saat and 208072 Signaller Ahmad bin Shafie.
Their mission in the evening was to get the information on construction material required for the hostels. Also to make sure that all the Elders of the Long Houses were informed about the meeting that was to take place on the 21st January at 1000 hours the following day in the morning. At precisely 1400 hours WO2 Lenggu reported to 2Lt Anuar along with the men. 2Lt Anuar gave his orders before the move. He emphasized on riverine anti-ambush drills.
* During that period there were no clearly defined manuals on riverine ambush, that is, in the event whilst moving in a boat, the courses of action to be taken by the soldiers in a boat.
Left : The covetted "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa" which supersedes the title Tun or any other.
2Lt Anuar had to be innovative and imaginative in giving out his orders for actions on probable or likely events that could happen on a move. He had to conjure up all of this using his appreciation (logical sequence of thought) skills. When a commander appreciates, he takes into consideration, the "ground", routes, best approaches" and many other factors, deriving at a best solution. Most of the time not perfect, though workable, which will be translated into orders, for the men.
The "Sungei" Katibas is deep, swift flowing and a treacherous river especially during the rainy season. The rainy season was between October and February. This makes the river wide to around 30 to 40 meters. All of them were aware that a possiblity of an ambush happening was very likely, as the route was used every two or three days for resupply tasks. Song was located at the lower reaches off Nanga Engkuah, where the !st Ranger's Tactical Headquarters was located. The movement by boat between Song and Nanga Engkuah normally takes three and a half hours.
At around 1430 hours in the evening, they left Nanga Engkuah. The lead boat carried 6 soldiers, the in - charge was WO 2 Lenggu ak China. He was ordered to move close to the right bank of the river. The other boat commanded by 2Lt Anuar comprising of 7 men moved close to the left bank of the river behind the leading boat. From Nanga Engkuah they headed straight to Nanga Bangkit, where 2Lt Anuar met up with the teacher of the school. He got all the information pertaining to material requirements for the building of a hostel for that school.
On the way back they stopped at all the Long Houses, on the left and right of the Sungei Katibas, to inform them of the meeting, that was to come to the 1st Rangers Tactical Headquarters for a Civic Action Meeting, between them and the CO of 1st Rangers. After stopping at Rumah Eton, the sixth Long House, they headed towards Rumah Dinggai. Rumah Dinggai was believed to be a strong supporter of North Kalimantan Communist Party, this was based on the intelligence gathered on that particular Long House. Rumah Dinggai was located on the right bank of the Sungei Katibas, around 500 metres upstream was the Sungei Ning which flowed into the Sungei Katibas. At the meeting of the two rivers was a cape, which was known as Cape Batu Babi ( Tanjung Batu Babi). Here the right bank of the river was hilly and covered with thick vegetation. As the boat was crossing the estuary of the Sungei Ning, they were fired upon from the right bank.
The outboard motor of the leading boat became the main target of the Communist Terrorists. They then, started firing at the soldiers in the boats. The soldiers in the boats who had anticipated an ambush happening, had earlier cocked (locked and loaded) their weapons before the move. They returned fire to the river bank where the hostile fire was coming from. As the boat of WO 2 Lenggu was closest to the right bank of the river, the momentum of the now disabled outboard motor, made the boat run aground on the banks of Cape Batu Babi.
WO 2 Lenngu ak China leapt out of the boat onto the bank in a flash. Though in a very dangerous situation, he yelled out the words " Charge !! Charge !! Charge !! Charge !!"
Firing into the enemy on the run, in the true fighting spirit of an Iban Warrior, displaying valour in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps. Five of his men like wise followed him, the bullets of the dastardly enemy slammed into them that fateful day. They fired into the enemy, hitting some of the enemy. They continued firing until they could move no more. They fell and lay still.
2Lt Anuar on seeing this happening, yelled out the cry of the Ranger Corps, to rally his men, "Agi Idup !!"
He received a resounding reply of "Agi Ngelaban !!"
, from his men. They opened fire on the enemy concentrating on the right bank. The enemy must have at that moment identified 2Lt Anuar as the Leader, started bringing fire to bear on him. The whole boat of his was now being concentrated upon by the enemy. The boat's engine went dead after repeatedly being hit. They tried to start it, it did not work. They were on the left bank. As this was happening Rgr Suntai was hit in the head by a round from the enemy, the impact hurled him into the river. His body was found two days later. Two of 2Lt Anuar's men, Rgr Engkas and Rgr Kelabu threw themselves into the river to escape the fusillade of fire directed at them. A normal reaction when there is no cover. They swam to the left bank, took cover and returned fire. 2Lt Anuar, Rgr Nawawi, Rgr Midong and Signaller Ahmad were the only ones left on a spinning boat. Spinning, as the boat was adrift at the confluence of two rivers, the Sungei Katibas and Sungei Ning, the currents were strong.
Even as the boat spinned the men in the boat continued returning fire. 2Lt Anuar felt, something hit him on the head very hard. he looked to the left and right, he saw that his men were still fighting back fiercely against the enemy. He felt his head and felt blood flow freely from his head. Only then did he realise that he had been shot in the head by the enemy. This made him furious, he continued firing at the enemy. As he put in his fourth magazine of bullets, his fingers did not have the strength to squeeze the trigger anymore. Rgr Midong who was in front saw his commander hit, was soon after that shot himself, his wrist was penetrated by a .303 round and his left knee hit by shotgun pellets. After that even though he continued firing, his shots were not that effective. Rgr Nawawi alone continued firing, Signaller Ahmad too was shot. As they were being fired at, the skies opened up with a heavy downpour. This was a blessing in disguise as the enemy could not aim accurately anymore, as it was raining cats and dogs. The shooting lasted for another 5 minutes. After that the enemy withdrew.
The boat was adrift, after 20 minutes of drifting carried by the swift currents, no one was moving in that boat, except for Rgr Nawawi. This drifting boat by chance, came across the boat carrying their Commanding Officer, Lt Col Syed Abdul Aziz bin Syed Razak who was on his way from Song to Nanga Engkuah. 2Lt Anuar was carried to Rumah Eton, whilst one of his soldier's Rgr Nawawi took the CO and his escort to the place where the ambush occured. When they reached the spot where the ambush occured they found WO2 Lenggu ak China barely alive, badly wounded. The soldiers who charged the enemy with Lenggu gave their ultimate sacrifice for this nation in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps, with life's blood, Malaysian fashion. They were Rgr Umok, Rgr Lian, Rgr Limping, Rgr Shafie and Rgr Merican who lay lifeless in the same position they fought the enemy from.
The CO brought back the badly wounded Lenggu to the Tactical Headquarters. He ordered Lt Ragunathan to lead a section (10 men) of men to conduct a follow up on the enemy. He was also ordered to destroy them. Lt Ragunathan with his men started tracking the enemy from the enemy ambush position. In the ambush position they found 5 dead soldiers and two of the enemy dead, killed by Lenggu and his men. The enemy, from the tracks left behind was estimated to be 27 strong. The following day Lt Ragunathan came upon the bodies of two more dead enemy, who had died of their wounds, inflicted by Lenggu and his men. Another boat carried 2Lt Anuar, Rgr Midong and Signaller Ahmad back to the Tactical Headquarters. 2Lt Anuar was placed on a stretcher beside Lenggu who was in critical condition with wounds to his stomach and head.
The CO had already requested for an air evacuation for all the wounded. Those days it was quite difficult to get air support as there were a limited number of aircraft, not that the Airforce did not want to oblige. This worried 2Lt Anuar. Luck was on their side, later at night a helicopter arrived to land on a LP, lit by a full moon at 2030 hours. The helicopter was commanded by Captain Leong Fok Siong (RMAF) and his co-pilot was Lt Aziz bin Alwi (RMAF), the navigator was Lt Munusamy(RMAF).
There was a doctor in attendance, who treated them for their immediate needs. The helicopter arrived too late for WO2 Lenggu ak China. He died before the heli arrived. His body was not flown out. He was buried at Nanga Engkuah as his wife, Undan ak Gulau, was from Rumah Gani, in Nanga Engkuah. 2Lt Anuar, Rgr Midong and Signaller Ahmad were flown to Sibu, straight to Hospital Lau Kimg Howe.
2Lt Anuar's head was operated on, he was unconcious for several days. Seeing that his chances for survival were slim, his parents from Penang were flown over, to be by his side. Miraculously he recovered, he had to undergo physiotheraphy to regain his faculties. He had to learn how to read, speak and write again, as the bullet had damaged his brain, affecting his performance. He overcame all these odds stacked against him. He rose to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel, pushed by a strong deternination to succeed.
WO2 Lenggu ak China was born in Sungei Baloh, Ngemah, Kanowit, Sarawak in 1944. He begun his military career on the 10th February 1964 by joining the 1st Battalion Rangers. He was in the Support Platoon of 1st Rangers rising to the rank of WO2, his appointment being Company Sergeant Major Instructor (CSMI).
An appointment related to assisting the CO in the training of the Battalion. When he died his wife, Undan ak Galau was pregnant. She gave birth to a child, Valentine ak Lenggu around 8 months after the death of Lenggu. Valentine followed the footsteps of his father by joining the Army. He also left behind two other children from his earlier marriage with his first wife. They were Georgaiana and Sthalman ak Lenggu.
Undan ak Galau related that, on that fateful day," I was in the Long House, when I heard that my husband was involved in a battle. I was worried as he told me that he was not going anywhere that morning. I rushed to the Tactical Headquarters to see my husband. I saw how badly he was wounded, I just could not contain my tears. He told me in the beginning not to cry and that he would not die. As they were carrying him to the Officer's Mess at the Tactical Headquarters, he whispered very softly to me that he was going to die. Before that he told Lt Col Syed Abdul Aziz not to worry, as I was carrying someone to replace him (" Tidak mengapa saya mati tuan saya sudah ada pengganti")."
She remained a widow bringing up her only child and her two step children.
For his valour in the face of the enemy, against great odds, in the highest tradition of the Ranger Corps the King bestowed upon him the nation's highest valour award, the "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa".
The award was presented to Undan ak Galau on the 26th June 1976.
* "Years later when I was the G3 Ops of HQ 1 Div, I got hold of some documents from the SB, which were kept in the Ops Room. One of them was a confession recorded by the commander of the Sg Katibas ambush. In it he said that he had observed the movements of soldiers along the river and had prepared the ambush in advance. He never expected anyone to walk out of there alive, as the killing ground was well covered. Lenggu's frontal assault was totally unexpected and crazy, he said. Lenggu managed to kill some of his men and that prompted him to abandon the position when it became untenable."
- Lt Col (Rtd) Fatholzaman Bukhari