After having served 4 years in the 1st Rangers Lance Corporal Sigai anak Nawan, was posted to the 5th Brigade in Sabah doing general duties.. He continued doing this for another two years. As he felt he needed challenges he applied to join the Special Forces at the end of 1970. After successfully completing his Basic Commando and attaining the coveted Green Beret, he was posted to X Squadron of the Special Forces. His first operation as a full fledged Commando was in the jungles of the Kinta Forest Reserve in Perak. His Troop Leader was Lieutenant Yap Poh Meng (200516). This troop was ordered to assist the 4th Ranger’s which was conducting operations in the same area. This troop was tasked to support the 4th Ranger’s unit commanded by Captain Mohana Chandran a/l Velayuthan (200402) who had made contact (clashed) with the enemy (Communist Forces). They were flown in by air from Tambun Camp, in Ipoh. There were ten of them who were dropped off at the vicinity of the contact. They abseiled into the area using ropes from the helicopter.
Once on the ground they were instructed by Lt. Yap to look for the enemy and also to look out for Captain Chandran’s body, who had been killed in the contact, along with the wounded of 4th Ranger’s. They successfully found the body of Captain Chandran and the wounded of 4th Ranger’s. After that, they were extricated from that area and inserted for another operation in Bukit Condong.
After the operation in Bukit Condong whilst in Tambun camp, they had to deploy to Lasah, an area in the north of Sungei Siput. This was an unforgettable operation for Sigai anak Nawan, as that was the first time ever, he got into grips with the enemy, it was a very fierce fire fight. Two Commandos, who were his close friends died in this fight, they were 19151 Trooper Rasli bin Buang and 20677 Trooper Sharif bin Hadis who died on the way to hospital due to his wounds.
Yankee Squadron under the command of Major Ghazali @ Abdul Rahman bin Ibrahim (12264) was tasked to assist a Ranger and a Royal Malay Battalion, who were on operations in the state of Sarawak. Sigai was actually a member of X Squadron but was attached to No.5 Troop of Y Squadron which was commanded by Captain Hamid bin Kusrin for this operation. 13852 Warrant Officer 2 Johari bin Hj. Mohd Sirat was the Troop Sergeant with the Section Commanders being 14666 Sgt. Selamat bin Hj. Abd Rahman for No.1 Section, 15502 Sgt Nayan bin Tak for No.2 Section and 11292 Sgt Muhamad Taib bin Husaini for No.3 Section. Sigai was in Section No.1 which was under the command of Sergeant Selamat, he was assisted by 928519 Corporal Entabah anak Ubok, 18799 Lance Corporal Mohd Ali was in charge of the support weapons group within the section.
On the 9th of May 1972, Sigai’s Troop which was in Camp Pagar Ruyong, Sibu was deployed to Nanga Dap in a Navy boat. The Troop moved from the naval base at around 1700 hours and actually arrived at Nanga Dap at midnight. On the 10th of May 1972, they moved from Nanga Dap to Ulu Dap. After walking for around 3 hours, they came across a recently abandoned enemy camp. While they conducted a search within the abandoned camp they camp across a live chicken, which they immediately slaughtered for their next meal. They also found packs of assorted cakes strewn over the place. The enemy must have celebrated the Chinese festival of Cap Goh Mei at this location.
On the 11the May they continued tracking the enemy, when they stopped for lunch at one of the tributaries about 1 mile from “Rumah Panjang Ubong”(name of long house). Before the men went into an all round defence position, Sigai approached Captain Hamid informing him that he was going to conduct a reconnaissance around the pepper plantation which was nearby. As he went on the trail he bumped into a pile of bamboo which was laid on the track, the track was deliberately blocked. He felt that in this part of Sarawak, this bamboo piled up high was not right. Curiosity got the better of him. As he arrived at the edge of the pepper bed, he found a pineapple fruit which has just been peeled, half of it had been eaten. Seeing this he cautiously moved forward. He was closely followed by 207206 Trooper KandasamyAL Maniappan, a fellow Commando. Sigai edged forward, he was in a place where the undergrowth separated the pepper bed from another plot of unkempt rubber. Trooper Kandasamy at that moment in time had the urge to take a “leak”. As he was urinating at the foot of a rubber tree, a shot rang out. Trooper Kandasamy yelled out that he was hit. Sigai rushed to Trooper Kandasamy. Sigai realized that Kandasamy was not shot, when he neared him, the tree splinters resulting from the shot had slammed into him. The enemy had fired this one shot and fled.
Sigai handed over his SLR (Self Loading Rifle) to Trooper Kandasamy and swapped it for a Sterling Sub Machine Gun, telling Kandasamy to stay put and wait for the rest of the Troop. Alone he descended from the hillock, to climb another hill in front of him. As he was climbing the hill he heard some more shots being fired by the enemy at Trooper Kandasamy. Trooper Kandasamy was returning the fire too, towards the enemy.
As he reached the lower slope of the hill, he saw a group of Communist Terrorists who were many in a state of confusion trying to pack and leave the area in a hurry. Sigai fired at one of the enemy who was rushing towards him. That was the enemy sentry who had fired at Trooper Kandasamy. He also opened up on the rest of the enemy.
He was tense and thoughts were running wildly through his head. He completely forgot about the grenades he was carrying. Had he thought about his grenades he could have wiped out the whole lot of them as they were bunched up. Trooper Ismail came running to join Sigai in the firefight. Both of them engaged the enemy in an intense firefight. The rest of the Troop rushed down to join in the fight. They had gone to the left of the hill, the Troop failed to effectively engage the enemy as they had arrived a bit late. The enemy managed to escape. When a search of the area was conducted, one dead enemy was found. This dead enemy was the sentry who had opened fire at Kanadasamy who was taking a leak at that moment in time. He was the enemy shot dead by Sigai. Another enemy dead was found at the foot of the hill. Two weapons and a large amount of ammunition were recovered.
On the track heading toward the Long House Ubong , on the left of the hill, around 59 booby traps were recovered, these were planted in the ground, forward of the enemy’s location. The enemy did not expect the assault to swing in from the rear. Had the Troop used this approach, the casualties on the Commando side would have been many. Captain Hamid to avoid casualties called off the pursuit. They then requested the help of members of the 16th Royal Malay Regiment who were operating in the vicinity, to evacuate the bodies of the dead enemy. The two dead enemies were evacuated by a helicopter from the Royal Malaysian Air Force. Along with this evacuation Sergeant Selamat too was evacuated as he was struck with a very high fever.
At around 1500 hrs the Troop left the place to conduct a follow up. The Troop was split into 3 groups, into their respective sections. As Sergeant Selamat had been extricated, the command of Section No.1 was taken over by Corporal Entabah, Captain Hamid was with this Section. Others in this Section were Sigai, Lance Corporal Mohd. Ali, 17593 Trooper Mohd Akhir bin Jaafar, 21739 Trooper Johari bin Harun, 22958 Trooper Budin bin Laham and 22784 Trooper Mohd Noor. The Troop Sergeant, moved with the section headed by Sergeant Mohd Taib. On this follow up they came across a large enemy camp which had been abandoned late in the evening.
As it was getting late and dark Captain Hamid ordered them to base up not far from this enemy camp. On the morning of the 12th May 1972, they continued with their follow up. They followed the trail left by the enemy until late in the evening. They had by then reached the upper part of the river Dap, where they found that the enemy had split up into small groups, seen by the signs left behind.
In the morning they followed these tracks up to a hill, where Sigai found a fresh sign that the enemy had only recently passed there. He found a beaten track where the root of a tree was oozing with it’s sap. The beaten track indicated that there could have been 3 of the enemy. Sigai reported this to the Captain, who ordered them to and have their food, to regain their strength as they had not eaten for a long period. This was in the eventuality they had to fight the enemy, and they needed their strength.
Whilst some of them were cooking, Sigai reminded Captain Hamid and the rest to be on alert, as the day was the anniversary of the 13th May incident where a racial riot had occurred in Kuala Lumpur. As an Iban, Sigai had very strong beliefs pertaining to dreams he experienced. He felt strongly as the previous night he had a bad dream. After all had eaten Captain Hamid instructed Sigai to lead and follow the trail of the enemy. Sigai followed the trail he had earlier discovered. At the summit of the hill he heard loud voices. He quickly took cover behind a log which lay in his path. He was amazed and shocked to see a group of the enemy at the bottom of the hill. The enemy had assumed that the Commando Troop would not be able to track them down as there was thick undergrowth between their previous location to their current location..
He very slowly retreated to the rear and informed Corporal Entabah and Trooper Budin who were nearby, Budin was instructed to go and call Captain Hamid and the rest of the Section. Corporal Entabah and Sigai slowly retreated even further so as not to be detected by the enemy.
When Captain Hamid arrived, Sigai asked the Captain, his attack plans. Captain Hamid decided that Lance Corporal Mohd Ali, Mohd Akhir and Johari to be on the left flank with the Light Machine Gun. Corporal Entabah and Mohd Noor to be on the right flank near the river. Sigai and Budin to follow him as the assaulting force. The attack was to be conducted downhill. Sigai objected to this plan, he asked how 3 of them would be able to succeed as they did not have any heavy weapons. The Captain was armed with an AR15, Sigai was with an SLR and Budin was with a Sterling Sub Machine Gun. The Captain brushed of Sigai’s objections saying that they had an element of surprise. The rest of the cut offs at the flanks will kill off the panic stricken and fleeing enemy. Captain Hamid in his quick orders failed to think of the low ground where the LMG and group were taking up position. As that group would not be able to see the enemy and would not be able to bring effective fire to bear on the enemy.
Sigai was adamant that all of them attack from uphill, that Johari can fire his M79 directly at the enemy, with LCpl Ali’s group giving supporting fire from up hill. Captain Hamid again instructed Sigai to recon the enemy location one final time. He moved out with Budin, moving to the log across the trail where he first came upon the enemy. They counted the number of enemy located there; there were 25 of the enemy. They also saw that the enemy’s support weapon was placed facing uphill towards Sigai and group. He went back and reported to Captain Hamid, who told him that, the more enemy there is all the better for them. He too wanted to take a look by himself. He came back and Sigai asked him his decision, he wanted to follow his initial plan per his orders. So they ended up waiting for Mohd Ali and his group to take up their positions. Meanwhile all of them were anxious and getting restless waiting for the orders to start the attack. They were waiting for the two groups to take up positions. The two groups had already left for twenty minutes and still there were no orders from Captain Hamid to attack.
Meanwhile Mohd Ali and his group who were carrying the LMG, tried to edge closer to the Enemy from an adjoining smaller hill, unfortunately for them, the Enemy Sentry detected their presence. He fired in the direction of Lance Corporal Mohd Ali. LCpl Ali was hit along with the LMG , which was disabled. Sigai, Budin and Hassan were still waiting for the orders impatiently for the word ‘go’ to open fire to begin the assault. They daren’t open fire as Captain Hamid promised each of them a Court Martial if they opened fire without his orders.
He was sitting there smoking one stick of cigarette after another. He did not completely finish one cigarette he pulled out another. The pressure on him was great, as the enemy outnumbered his men.
Sigai seeing his Troop Commander in this stage said, “We entered this jungle to look for the enemy. Now we have come across the enemy you do not allow us to shoot and kill the enemy. How has it come to this? It is better not to have entered into this jungle. It is better for me to quit being a soldier.” He let it all out. This was related by Budin who was beside Sigai. After which he heard Sigai swearing in the Iban language which Budin did not understand. At that moment they heard shouts that Ali was shot, the shouts were repeated.. This was yelled out by Trooper Mohd Akhir amidst heavy automatic fire. Sigai, hearing that Ali was hit along with Budin came downhill firing in the direction of the enemy. On hearing the returning of fire from Siagi and Budin the enemy fire became erratic and wild. They were far in front, away from Captain Hamid’s position. Trooper Sigai could not take it anymore, he shouted at the Captain, “Sir, if you do not move forward, I will shoot you, sir!” After that the Captain came forward. The fleeing enemy started mocking them. They were numerically more than the Commandos, and very well entrenched. The only support weapon they had, carried by Lance Corporal Ali was damaged. Even if used it would be ineffective as it was on low ground. Sigai ran towards Ali’s position, even as Captain Hamid objected to his actions, the Captain was actually angry with Ali for not firing the LMG.
As soon as Sigai arrived at Lance Corporal Ali’s location, he found that Ali was hit by the enemy’s fire. Sigai handed over his weapon to Trooper Mohd Akhir. He gave Ali first aid and moved him to a more secure place. He then removed Ali’s webbing which contained ammunition for the LMG. He took a look at the LMG, the magazine was damaged. He replaced the magazine with a fresh magazine. With this he started firing at the enemy, at the same time moving to higher ground. This caused the enemy to flee their position. After the enemy had fled, he went down hill to gather around with the rest of the Troop. He found that Captain Hamid was on the radio trying to call for artillery support.. Sigai asked him,” Sir, what are you doing, how are you going to contact anyone without an aerial.” Sigai helped Captain Hamid to fix the aerial to the radio. Captain Hamid managed to call for artillery fire, it was not effective as by then the enemy was too far away.
As the jungle they were in was dense, the landing point they constructed was not spotted by the pilot of the helicopter, it was also too late in the evening. Lance Corporal Ali who was wounded could not be extricated that day. He died at 2000 hrs that day due to the loss of blood. Sigai, felt that all these would not have happened if Captain Hamid had only listened to his advice.
901370 Trooper Sigai anak Nawan was born on the 6th July 1944. He was from Rumah Kasau, Nanga Mujan, Batang Ai, Lubuk Antu, Sarawak. He was the eldest in a family of 11 siblings. His parents were Mr. Nawan anak Kasau and Mrs. Tau anak Ngindang. As Rumah Kasau was too far in the interior, the British at that time made them move to Rumah Bunjai in Kampung Sebandi, Lundu when he was 5 years old. He derived his early education at Christ Church School, Stunggang, Lundu. He schooled until Standard 6. His early years were like other youths of his time, which were tapping rubber, helping his family to tend the farm, trading at the Indonesian border, working at the harbour in Miri. On receiving encouragement from his Uncle, Warrant Officer 2 Ninkan anak Kasau and his interest in the military he joined the profession of arms on the 22nd June 1964. He did his recruit training at the Gurkha camp in Sungei Patani. After pasing out he was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Rangers in Ipoh.
Trooper Sigai was a man of exceptional bravery, who always led on patrols while on operations, as related by Sergeant Budin. Even though only a mere Trooper, he acted with great responsibility and did not care for his own personal safety. With this he was awarded the “Pingat Gagah Berani” by the King, His Royal Highness Al-Sultan Almu’tasimu Sultan Badlishah on the 5th June 1974 for valour beyond the call of duty. He received this award on the parade ground of Sungei Besi on the occasion of the conferring of colors to the 9th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment on the 22nd March 1975. He left the service after 10 years of service. He joined the Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation as a Security Guard, in Bintangor, Sarawak.