Valour and Courage: <DIV ALIGN=CENTER>Major Ismail Salleh - PGB & Lt David Fu Chee Meng - PGB, In A Battle At Tanah Hitam</DIV>
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
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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

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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."

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Major Ismail Salleh - PGB & Lt David Fu Chee Meng - PGB, In A Battle At Tanah Hitam
Friday, November 25, 2005
Three Months after 6th Rangers was formed in Terendak Camp, Malacca, which was commanded by Lt Col Mansor bin Mohamed Yunus (12039), it was ordered to deploy for operations. The Battalion was deployed from Terendak Camp to Kulim, which was the operational area of the 6th Infantry Brigade. At that time, the brigade was commanded by Brigadier General Mohd Usof bin Abu Bakar (5833). The Battalion moved into Pelam Estate, in Kulim. The operation was launched to block the infiltration of the Communist Terrorists from Thailand into Peninsular Malaysia, who wanted to take advantage of the May 13 1969 disturbances.

Major Ismail bin Salleh who was commanding C Company was tasked to to patrol in the day and conduct ambushes at night in an area where the infiltration was suspected to take place. They had no clue or inkling when that would happen. One morning after the conduct of a night ambush as he was resting, a civilian came up to the base to complain that a group of Communists numbering around 20 had beaten him up, about two map squares (2kms) away from their location

He radioed the CO and informed him of the incident. The CO forbade him to react based on an allegation by a local, as it could be an enemy trick. After some investigations done by Major Ismail, it actually indicated the signs of enemy presence, based on the tracks and signs left behind. They were there for a month in Pelam Estate, they did not encounter any of the enemy. They were therefore air flown to Kroh and then to Klian Intan.

In Klian Intan the Special Branch informed them that, a Communist Unit of 60 men would be moving through the Tanah Hitam area South of Klian Intan. The Enemy's mission was believed to be an attack on the Grik, Police Station. C Company 6th Battalion Rangers, which comprised of 3 Officers and 94 Other Ranks, commanded by Major Ismail Bin Salleh was deployed into Tanah Hitam on the 23rd August 1970 at 0300 hours in the morning, into map square 8294. The Company was ordered to conduct ambushes on all the likely routes of infiltration identified by the Special Branch.

They were inserted into the area via road, using trucks. They debussed tactically, just after descending Gunung Paku heading towards Grik. The trucks did not stop for the debussing, they just slowed down for the soldiers to leap out with their heavy packs and equipment. This was done to keep the local population unaware of the insertion of the troops. There were no injuries during this tactical debussing.

After they regrouped, they were guided by members of the Police Commandos (Vat 69), to an area identified as the most likely route of infiltration by the Communists. From that place Major Ismail along with the Police Commandos conducted a reconnaissance to determine the most suitable places for ambushes to be conducted. The first location the reconnaissance identified, was GR 83944, the second GR 843947 and the third in GR 839958, which was in map squares 4894 and 8395.

After that he delivered his orders to his men on the conduct and execution of the ambush. After the delivery of orders he took two of his Platoon Commanders to their respective positions. Lt David Fu Chee Ming (200772) who commanded Platoon 8 was placed on the end of a ridge on the left at GR VD 843944, he was assisted by 901016 Sgt Chandan ak Gaing. He himself, with Company Headquarters and Platoon 9 took up the ambush position at GR VD 843947 and 2Lt Amar Kumar Chaudurry (2000916) who commanded No. 7 Platoon was placed in an ambush on the right at GR VD 839958. They were in trenches and in an all round defense position.

Lt David's Platoon was taken into the ambush position by the OC and members of the Special Branch. They went into an all round defense position, it was on a hill that they positioned themselves overlooking a track. The ground dominated that area. His Platoon numbered 26 men. He instructed his men to dig in, they made fire trenches facing the track. Their fire trenches were constructed with inter locking fields of fire. The trenches were mutually supporting. This meant one fire trench could support another fire trench. All trenches had depth. This meant that the position was deep or layered in providing defensive depth. The all round defense position was shaped in a triangle. Which meant, where the apex was, there would be a heavy weapon. If the enemy attacked, two heavy weapons will be brought to bear upon the enemy in the direction the enemy attacked.

They were given two days to make their position into a very well defended position from which to conduct the ambush. All cooking was done in the trenches and cooking was only allowed in the morning. No.1 Section commanded by Cpl Sundram was ordered to build 3 fire trenches. facing the most possible or likely route of the enemy. Ranger Abu bin Mat, 931095 Rgr Abu Samah bin Ibrahim were members of the fire support section, the GPMG team, who were led by 15148 LCpl Abdullah bin Nawi. They were directed to dig a trench for the GPMG. The left trench to the GPMG team was occupied by an LMG team, which had 3 men, who were Cpl Sundram, 928088 LCPL Karim bin Sidek and Rgr Sani bin Abdul Rahman. On the right was another trench on a very steep incline, comprising of Rgr Naim with 931042 Rgr Mat Dom bin Hussein.

Sharpened stakes were driven into the ground, near the fire trenches. The trenches were very well camouflaged, it would have been very difficult to spot them unless a very close reconnaissance was conducted. Claymore mines were laid facing the probable direction the enemy would approach, the M57 (firing device for claymores) was held by LCpl Abdullah, who was the commander of the GPMG (Mag 58) team. The soldiers having not bathed for the last 4 days, on the 27th August 1970, approached Lt David to request permission to have a bath.

They were not allowed as their OC, Major Ismail had instructed, that no one was allowed to do anything until the Enemy had arrived and they had destroyed them. As the Enemy were expected to arrive at anytime. They were told in no uncertain terms that all movement must be minimized to maintain secrecy. They were not to be too far away from their fire trenches.

At around 1000 hours that day whilst they were cooking for lunch some soldiers decided to fry their combat rations for lunch, releasing an overpowering smell. Lt David blew his top and was furious, he told the soldiers to cease and desist, as the smell could carry far away, which would give away their hard built location. After lunch normally some of them would nap. An ambush is like going on a fishing trip. Some of them engaged in conversations, boredom is one of the early visitors in an ambush. At around 1500 hours they got another round of shelling from Lt David, this time for boiling water, which was done out of the allocated cooking time, the serious part being he could smell the water being boiled.

As they were sitting and engaging in an aimless conversation the distant sounds of twigs and bamboo being stepped upon carried to their ears. The never ending sounds were continuous, were coming towards their way. One by one they leapt into the fire trenches. After some time a figure was seen observing the area, the figure was the enemy’s leading scout, must have heard something to discomfit him. The enemy looked carefully, scanning the area in front of him, apparently he must have heard something.

The Enemy halted around 35 yards from the foremost trench. He stood in front of the claymore mine. The second enemy scout moved forward to the leading enemy scout, who was carrying two weapons. The third and fourth enemy had stopped in their tracks. Another group of the enemy, who were behind the third and fourth enemy, moved forward.

Ranger Abu bin Mat, on seeing this tapped LCpl Abdullah on the back, asking him, “What are you waiting for ?”. To which LCpl Abdullah reacted by flicking off the safety catch of the M57 and firing it. At that instant Ranger Mat bin Abu let loose with his general purpose machine gun, which was followed with LMG fire, being fired by LCpl Karim. The battle which started at 1545 hours in the afternoon did not only, involve the exchange of fire, it also involved the exchange of insults and verbal abuse, there was plenty from both sides. Shortage of rounds would have been a problem, insults were exchanged in a never ending stream.

The Enemy who exchanged fire with LCpl Abdullah’s group stopped firing, when Lt. David released two rounds from his M79 towards them. At precisely 1605 hours Lt David saw and heard a woman Communist Terrorist screaming in pain. She was seen being dragged by a male terrorist who was dragging her by holding her under the arm pit, moving behind a big log. Lt David used his SLR and fired a few shots at her He was not sure whether he hit them or not, he then got hold of his trusty M79. He fired to where they were taking cover, no more sounds emanated from there.

The Enemy ceased fire at around 1620 hours. They could only be heard gathering their wounded and their equipment. They continued firing whenever the enemy moved, or whenever they heard the enemy’s voices. They used some period of lull in the fighting to replenish ammunition and hand grenades to the fire trenches.

Lt David then went into his trench to establish radio communications, to indent for rations, ammunition and other stuff. He had to talk quite loudly as there were occasional bursts of fire. After ending his radio conversation he went down to his forward section, what he saw made him very happy, there was a very fat enemy who lay still on the ground. He quickly returned to his trench to relay that information to Major Ismail. There were still occasional bursts of automatic fire. At 1720 hours he heard the sounds of loud automatic fire coming from Major Ismail’s location.

At the ambush position of Major Ismail’s they had not had a bath for 4 days. Water use was restricted, they had to maintain strict water rationing. They used water only for cooking and drinking and nothing else. On the 27th August 1970, when there was a water party about to move off, his batman (Major Ismail’s), Ranger Petric informed him that he saw the monkeys on the tree tops moving around directionless, as though spooked. He also mentioned hearing a large body of something moving breaking twigs and stepping on little plants.

After the report by Ranger Petric, Major Ismail and his men heard the loud explosion of a claymore mine being fired, the sound from Lt David’s location. Major Ismail, straightaway got on the radio set with Lt David, who informed him on the reasons for the explosion and gunfire. Lt David also informed him that he got a few, to which Major Ismail questioned him, “How many ?” Lt David replied,” I don’t know”. Major Ismail then warned David not to allow the enemy to drag the bodies away. He said this when there were no more sounds coming from Lt David’s location. There was total silence after that.

The silence was broken by a bursts of automatic fire, when Cpl Rani, a member of the support section commanded by 600721 Sgt Rahmat bin Md Amin, opened fire on the enemy that were heading towards them. The rest of Major Ismail’s group followed suit opening up with everything they had. The enemy tried very hard to flee. There was an intense exchange of fire, after which the enemy withdrew. They saw the body of a dead enemy in front of their location.

Major Ismail was confident that the enemy would return to retrieve their dead. Major Ismail then instructed Sgt Selamat to have one of his boy’s crawl up to the dead enemy and tie the body. Sgt Selamat gave that job to 931068 Rgr Razak bin Abas. Ranger Razak went off to do his task as ordered with Sgt Selamat covering him. After tying up the body the string was extended to the foremost fire trench. Here a number of them were tasked to take care of the string. Sgt Selamat instructed them to open fire if they felt the string being pulled.

Suddenly they felt the string being pulled, After sometime there was a lot of shooting, Major Ismail asked for Illuminating rounds to be fired by an Artillery Battery that was in direct support of his battalion. They were located at Klian Intan. The Artillery guys responded by firing the illum rounds from the 105 mm howitzers. It dawned on him that he made a mistake. As the Artillery rounds were dropping too close to his location, exposing them. He immediately rectified his mistake by asking for HE rounds. These rounds fell too close for comfort, nearly onto their location. Anyway none of the enemy suffered any casualties from the Artillery shelling.
A 105mm Pack Howitzer, which can be stripped and made into man portable artillery, which has a range of 10,000 meters (10 km, with a planning range of 7,500 meters).


The following morning when a search was conducted they found one dead enemy with his pack still worn in front of one of the trench’s. Two more packs were found, their owners were not around, they had left their blood traces on the ground. The killed enemy was a ranking person in the Malayan Communist Party. He was found with $8,000 on him.

The persons who did the search was Sgt Abu bin Mat who did it without permission from either Major Ismail or Lt David. They comprised of Cpl Sundram, LCpl Abdullah, LCpl Krim and Rgr Karim who set out to do the search at 0800 hours.

They found the first enemy dead near a second enemy body. The third enemy dead was a female about 5 yards away from the second body. The fourth enemy body was 5 yards away from the third. At the location of the fifth enemy dead body they found a lot of blood, water bottle, a water bottle cup and a pack.

From the first enemy, two weapons and a pack were recovered, one weapon from the second, from the third a pistol holster and a pack, a pack from the fourth. An official search was conducted by Major Ismail, Lt David and some men. The ambush gave them 5 kills, 6 packs and three weapons which were collected and placed in a spot at their location. All these dead enemy and equipment were carried out by members of A Company who were specially deployed to do this task.

They continued staying in that ambush location for a period of 2 days. They were visited by the Brigade Commander, officers from other units and the police from the Special Branch. This was a morale booster as the police and the army had suffered many casualties in ambushes and attacks, like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Successes were too little, losses were bad, many men were killed and maimed. This success was meaningful to all units in the Armed Forces as it was a turning point in the war against Communism in that particular year.

With this ambush successfully conducted by the men of 6th Rangers, the Grik Police Station was saved from death and destruction. These valiant men under the cool leadership of Major Ismail and Lt David actually, prevented tragedy taking place in Grik, as the Police Station is in an area, where there was a heavy concentration of civillians. The Rangers saved the butts of the Police that day.
For valor in the face of the enemy in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps Major Ismail and his platoon Commander Lt David were conferred the “ Pingat Gagah Berani” by the King on the 2nd June 1971.

Major Ismail was born on the 2nd August 1938 in Pendang, Alor Star, Kedah. He was the eldest of 5 siblings. His father was Mr. Salleh bin Yusof , his mother was Aisah bte Muhamad. His early education was derived at the Sungei Korok Primary School. He continued his education in Sultan Abdul Hamid College until Form 6. He was a Cadet Sergeant in school. he was already keen on a Military career whilst still in school. In 1952 he applied to join the Federation Military College in Port Dickson.

He started his career as a Regular Cadet, Intake 3 on the 2nd January 1959, the last group to be commissioned at the FMC, Port Dickson on the 10th December 1960. He was commissioned as a 2Lt into the 3rd Battalion Royal Malay Regiment, which was located at the Batu Gajah Camp, whose CO was Lt Col Osman bin Rani (458). After sometime he transferred to 7th Royal Malay Regiment, under Lt Col Khalid bin Yassin (396) in Taiping. He served in the Congo under the UN banner as a peacekeeper in 1962. He was involved in the setting up and formation of the 8th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment in Tapah. He was also stationed in Sandakan, Sabah during the Confrontataion, the war against Indonesia. He later deployed to Singapore during the racial disturbances and also to fight the Indonesians who were landing airborne troops into Peninsular Malaysia, especially in Johore.

During the expansion of the Armed Forces after the British handover, he was loaned to the Ranger Corps, becoming the Company Commander of C company, 4th Rangers in Ipoh in 1967. His Company was involved in the May 13 disturbances (racial riots) in 1969. After those disturbances he got married to Wan Zaleha bte Che Abdullah. In 1969 the company he was commanding was involved in the setting up and formation of the 6th Battalion, Rangers, which was set up in Terendak Camp, Malacca.

He later, was promoted and returned to the Royal Malay to command 15th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment. He was with the battalion until 1978. He was involved in the setting up of the Armed Forces Staff College. He left the service as a Colonel after serving for 29 years. The last post he held was the post of the Director Of Infantry in Mindef.

Lt David was the third child in a family of ten siblings. His father was a technician in the Land and Survey Department of Sibu, Sarawak. He was born on the 24th May 1945, he derived his education at the Methodist School of Sibu. He got his GCE in 1963. He worked in the Agricultural Department in Bintulu. He was attracted to the Military profession as he would be able to travel the whole of Malaysia. He joined as a Cadet on the 28th July 1967. He joined intake 12 of the Short Service Commission in the Royal Miltary College in Sungei Besi. He was commissioned on the 24th February 1988 to the 3rd Battalion Rangers stationed at Kuala Kubu Baru.

He was one of those Officers selected to form 6th Rangers. He was a Platoon Commander of A Company, he was attached to C Company for the purpose of the ambush at Tanah Hitam. As his duties and military obligations kept him away, for very long periods, from being with his family, Lt David left the service, after serving 4 years, on the 25th February 1971.
posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 5:00 AM  
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