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."
| Malaysian professional arms has its roots in the 1971 death of Capt. V.M. Chandran SP by M.G.G. Pillai - Sunday, June 13, 2004, 08:03 pm
| Tuesday, August 07, 2018
THIRTEENTH OF JUNE 1971. What happened 33 years ago on this day is
remembered by a negligible few, in the armed forces, in the 4 Renjer
Bn, even in its C Company.
I asked several retired and serving
officers about it. A few of the former officers remembered. One asked
his colleagues at the time by email and SMS if they could remember
what happened on that. None could. But at least 4 Renjer (or Rangers,
in English) and its C Company should have. On that day the commanding
officer of C Company, Capt. V. 'Ray' Mohanachandran SP, died in an
ambush on a well-fortified and bunkered Communist Party of Malaya base
in Tanjong Rambutan, Perak, on the periphery of a Police Field Force
camp, that earned him the Malaysian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
That he died gallantly, leading his men from the front into battle, is
now undisputed, although the rush to blame him was relentless at the
time. There was still the fairness and professionalism then that now
seems lacking, and the blame was laid not on him, as his seniors would
have liked, but on the seniors themselves. The Intelligence Officer or
IO of 2 Bde, who ordered Capt. Chandran by radio to attack the camp,
had kept a detailed log book and which contained the operational
blunders at battalion, brigade and division headquarters, was sent
inexplicably on leave.
When he returned, his log book went missing.
Capt. Chandran, his close friend, told him this could well be goodbye
for ever, and in jest to request a "Papa Golf Bravo" for him! Within
two hours, at about 2.50 pm, he was dead. Papa Golf Bravo stood for
the PGB, the second highest Malaysian award for gallantry. When the
dust settled, he was awarded posthumously the Seri Pahlawan Gaga
Perkasa or the SP, an award with a higher protocol ranking than a Tun.
He was, if my memory serves me right, the first army officer to die in
combat with the CPM after hostilities ended in 1960.
Capt. Chandran, 24, passed out of Portsea, the Australian Sandhurst,
and, according to his friends, meticulous and painstaking to a fault.
When he investigated - or, in military slang, recce'd - reports of an
MCP presence, he found a well fortified and bunkered camp and between
40 and 60 well-armed men. The 5th Assault Unit was an advance party of
the CPM to reinstate their lost strongholds, and had established a
beach head at this spot, as they moved south along the Main Range to
Cameron Highlands to Pahang, where the 6th Assault Unit was to
establish a base in the Tras-Raub area, where in the 1950s, the MCP
had a semi-permanent base.
Chin Peng was there for a while.
The Police Special Branch and the 2 Bde, to which 4 Renjer were
attached, had been tracking the CPM's advance party to the south but
missed out the 5 Assault Unit establishing a permanent base in the
Tanjong Rambutan. Two groups from 4 Renjer was sent out to recconoitre
the area. Capt Chandran's C Company's report was disbelieved.
Headquarters insisted there could not be more than half a dozen CPM
men, and that was how he went in to die.
His was not the only death;
there were heavy casualties on both sides. He had led his C Company to
certain death for the ground was as he had radioed brigade
headquarters, and the CPM's 5th Assault Unit made mince meat out of
him and his company.
What was not known at the time was the 5th Assault Unit was led by the
CPM's strategic and tactical genius, Chong Chor. Years later, he
surrendered with his wife, who was then seriously ill, to a senior
Special Branch officer, in Rawang, after weeks of negotiations.
time, the Special Branch intelligence in Tanjong Rambutan was wrong,
and Capt. Chandran was spot on. Chong Chor's wife died since, and he,
now in his 80s, is reported to be living in the area. Until a few
years ago, the officer who took the surrender, then years into
retirement, would visit him. It stopped only when he moved out of
What he told me of how he built a working relationship with Chong Chor
amazes me to this day. But we talk of an epoch that would never come
back. Superious intelligence, attention to painstaking detail, respect
for the enemy, fair play were all in ample supply.
When the ground
dropped from under them, many a CPM man accepted the good faith of the
enemy and happily surrendered to them. That would not be possible now,
for the hostility inherent towards the enemy, whoever he is, is so
total, that none in the government would dare speak well of a gallant
enemy. The hostility towards Chin Peng and his men returning to
Malaysia after the CPM formally surrended and ended the conflict in
the late 1980s is one sign of that.
Now the enemy is different. It is Islamic fundamentalism. But one is
not sure if there is such a pressure or if it is a convenient label to
put on a political rival by linking him to a global enemy.
But we as a
nation have descended into the colonial practice of cruelty and
violence, often for no reason than the whims and fancies of the
officer in charge. As Gillo Pontecorvo's film masterpiece, "The Battle
of Algiers", of the confrontation between the Algerian freedom
fighters and the French colonial power, shows, violence and harshness
would win the battle but not the war. But when a nation is used to
unspeakable violence and brutality, the call for a humane and
intelligent approach to the problem is not only anathema but treachery
I run ahead of the story of Capt. Chandran. The 2nd Div commander,
Maj.-Gen. Osman 'Otto", as he was known, insited he wanted to be
directly involved in the follow up. Two regiments, 12 and 13 Royal
Malay Regiment, were deployed for the counter-attack. The 13 RMR was
led by the very professional Lieut.-Col. 'Robert' Mahmood; the 12 RMR
by Lieut.-Col. Abdul Rahman Abdul Rashid, whose blood pressure shot up
so dangerously that he had to be replaced by a 3 Recce Officer, Maj.
Kenny Siebel, the first time ever that a non-Malay or non-British
officer had commanded an RMR. The present chief of the armed forces
chief, General Tan Sri Zaidi Zainuddin, also commanded this regiment
and when he cowered in fear when it established contact with the CPM.
But this is also the regiment commanded by the legendary Lieut.-Col.
Raja Aman Shah, whose men would march with pride to certain death had
he so desired.
The troops were ready, and in battle formation, in their trucks and in
their planes and helicopters. But Gen. Osman was no where around; he
was playing cards in the 2 Div officers' mess, and none dare interrupt
him. The planes, helicopters and trucks were fuelled with the men on
board, waiting for the orders that came too late. The enemy by then
had blown. If that counter attack had taken place, it could well have
stopped the infilitration much earlier, and billions of ringgit could
have been spared for other major expenditure.
The interference of
commanders who did not know the battle ground made it worse.
It was the beginning of the chain of events that led only last week to
the field marshal's pennant placed upside down on the official vehicle
the Yang Dipertuan Agung took the salute on his birthday on 05 June
2004. In the wake of the 13 May 1969 riots and the ensuing UMNO
political coup and its Malay only policy in all areas of the
administration, the armed forces turned political, lost its
professionalism, and all but gave up the ghost.
The armed forces is
still paying the price for it. Was Capt. Chandran's sacrifice worth
it, with or without the posthumous SP to his name? Yes. It is heroes
like him that enhances the reputation and professionalism of the armed
forces. He led from the front. His men would go any lengths to not let
him down. But does the Malaysian Armed Forces of 2004 know or care for
that sacrifice? Or indeed of any other? I am not sure.
Source : Alam Faizli bin Mohd Zain................
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 11:00 PM