Remembering OUR CONGO Heritage -A FORGOTTEN ERA Lest We Forget by Lieutenant Colonel TAN SIEW SOO (Retired)
Tuesday, April 06, 2021
Caption: the Regiment was warmly greeted during the entire journey by the locals. This picture taken at Tororo Railway Station, Uganda. Capt Andrew Boudville serving tea to a Trooper, Maj Lakhbir Singh OC A Sqn looking in.
Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of Congo was brutally killed in Katanga on 17 January 1961, but announcement was withheld until 13 February. Following this some Afro Asian countries protested and triggered a crisis in ONUC(UN Operations in the Congo) when they withdrew their forces.
The UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold had to appeal to the more moderate countries to increase their contributions. The Malaysian (Malaya then) contingent totalled only 613 All Ranks. Our Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman graciously agreed to increase our force level to 1413 All Ranks. Our Army in 1960 consisted of only HQ 1 Bde in Kuala Lumpur and HQ 2 Bde in Ipoh. Basically we have seven Malay battalions and two Reconnaissance Regiments that can be employed with ONUC. HQ 3 Bde which last operated at Kepala Batas, Alor Star in 1959 was reactivated as HQ Bde MSF to be based in Bukavu.
Brigadier Abdul Hamid bin Bidin became its first Commander. Besides Brigade personnel, the first group of reinforcement was D Company 4 R Malay who had been left behind by the original Malayan Special Force (MSF) in Mentakap Camp, was flown into the Congo in February 1961 by C124 Globe master.
2nd Reconnaissance Regiment (2 Recce), now 2 ARMOUR made up the bulk of the reinforcement, departed Port Swettenham (Klang) on 07 April 1961 by USNS "Eltinge", a fully air conditioned sister Troopship of USNS "Blackford" which conveyed all Malaysian troops after April 1961 to and fro Malaysia-Africa.
The Regiment was far luckier than C Squadron who 6 months earlier had to rough it out in USN Landing Ship Tank (LST) on a very long voyage lasting 28 days via the Cape of Good Hope to the Port of Matadi. This time 2 Recce headed for Port Mombasa in Kenya on a voyage normally taking only 10 days. This particular trip took an additional 3 days with stopover at Mumbai to pick up Indian troops and stores.
On arrival at Mombasa, B Squadron was detached from the Regiment and flown direct into Kinshasa taking over duties from C Squadron Rear Party led bt Lt Tan Siew Soo.
The rest of the Regiment now consisted of HQ Squadron, A Squadron and Support Squadron boarded a special train from Mombasa in Kenya to Kasese at the border of Congo/Uganda. The three day journey from Mombasa to Nairobi to Kasese was most interesting starting from the lowlands of East Africa and gradually rising to the Highlands of Kenya, several thousands feet above sea level, passing through some very beautiful and scenic places in Africa. In the course of the journey the train passed through the Equator and at the Equator our troops were shivering in their tropical wear!
Cook party was sent ahead of the main group to set up field kitchen at the next station, so when the troops arrived they 9were served with hot food and tea. Hundreds of East Africans greeted the Malaysians along the route, in particular the Indian and Sikh communities who showed full admiration for our troops discipline and good behaviour.
Passing through Uganda at Jinga, a Garrison town, some NCOs from 4 Kings African Rifles (4 KAR) who had served during the Malayan Emergency came to chat with the men. The officers were entertained to a meal at the 4 KAR Officers Mess, some found old friends from Sandhurst days! The officers of 2 Recce were offered accommodation at the Officers Mess at Jinga if they could get some leave. The great Commonwealth bond; truly appreciated.
Along the route, the locals often greet our troops with "yaambo a common Swahili Greetings, a language also spoken in the Eastern Congo. At that stage the new arrivals (sin khek) were not conversant with the language yet. Soon they would learn to answer back" yambo sana"
All of us in the Malayan Special Force wore above our right breast pocket a brass tag with the word "MALAYA'. Often the yambo Greetings went with shouts of Malaya followed by much giggles among the local womenfolk.
We found out later, Malaya means prostitutes in Swahili !!! Thankfully we are now Malaysia.
At Kasese, the Ugandan border town, the Regiment unloaded the vehicles and stores. Augmented by several UN 5 tonnes, 2 Recce Regiment hit the dusty trail for Goma. The convoy passed through Albert National Park along the route and soldiers had the opportunity to see first time big game in safari country. The first convoy rolled into Goma around 1800 hours on 30 April 1961. The 2 Recce Advanced Party and some Bde HQ officers were at hand to receive them. I was glad to be among the reception group.
Goma then, was indeed a beautiful town with its twin, Kisenyi across in Rwanda both located at the northern shores of Lake Kivu, a vast fresh water lake with Bukavu at the southern tip, some two hundred kilometers away. Goma had an ideal climate with a mean average temperature of around 70 degrees F (22degreesC) throughout the year.
It was to become home of the Recce Corps during its entire service with ONUC. The lucky beneficiaries were RHQ, HQ Squadron and Support Squadron. The fighting Squadrons, A, B and C Squadrons were always deployed at the sharp end spread out as far as two thousand kilometres in a country with 2 time zones, twenty times the size of Peninsular Malaysia!!
Contact At The Kinta Forest Reserve - Captain Mohana Chandran al Velayuthan (200402) SP, Ranger Bajau ak Ladi PGB & Cpl Osman PGB
Sunday, February 07, 2021
"Capt Ray Mohana Chandran was killed in action in June 1971. He was in 4th Rangers in Ipoh. I was then in 7th Rangers in Sg Petan, a 2nd Lt. Chandran clashed with a group (5th Assault Unit - AU) led by State Committee Member (SCM) Chong Kwai Hong. After the clash SCM Chong withdrew to South Thailand. We spent a lot of time trying to track him down but our efforts were futile.
In 1974, I was a Capt then, and was dealing in combat intelligence in 7th Rangers. While operating in Sg Siput area, about 10km from where Chandran clashed with SCM Chong in 1971, my boys (7th Rangers) came across some markings made of bamboo along a mountain ridge streching on the slopes of Gunong Korbu. These findings were on 20th April. I instructed my boys to lay an ambush along the ridge close to the bamboo markings.
On 22nd April at 10.55am, BANG - the ambush was sprung. Two terrorists were killed in the initial burst and during the follow up 30 mins later another 3. In this clash, 5 bodies were recovered, one was SCM Chong and another his wife. After this not much was heard of 5th AU. It was replaced by 6th AU. We recovered quite a bit of $$$ from this clash- obviously, he was their high ranking leader. What pleased me was, we avenged Chandran's misfortune. I have not shared this with anyone till now. Maybe because we were just too busy then to sit back and rejoice on the success.
Unlike now, on reading and listening to the script, I just realised what we had scored. Its 50 years ago!!!! May God bless Chandran's soul and let him know the score. I will raise this with the 4th Rangers guys so that some closing can be done at unit level."Leader 5th Assault Unit Chong Kwai Hong was killed by 7th Rangers on 21/22 Apr 1974 at 1155hrs in Pos Legab area during Gonzales 1. Five CTs were killed in that chance ambush. One escaped and was killed by 2nd Rangers, 2 or 3 days later
Chong Chor was captured by the Special Branch in Chow Kit area, circa 1987" - Lt Col Baldev Singh (Retired)
"When signs of enemy presence(Communist Terrorists) were discovered at the Korbu Forest Reserve, Sungei Siput and Tanah Hitam from the 8th May until 31st May 1971, a mixed Reconnaissance Group was formed.
The intelligence received at that time, was that the enemy had just moved into the area. The enemy unit was commanded by DCM Chong Kwai Hong, the overall Commander being Chong Chor. What the intelligence failed to notice was that the enemy had moved into the area 2 months ago. The position the enemy was entrenched in was fortified with trenches. The enemy camp had even an underground kitchen.
So to destroy this enemy a sub - unit of the Unit Combat Intelligence Platoon (4th Rangers) , comprising of ten men led by Captain V.Mohan Chandran of the 4th Battalion Royal Rangers, Special Government Agents (Surrendered Enemy Personnel from the 1st Emergency- SEP), Special Branch and members of the 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment. They were tasked to reconnoiter the movement of the enemy in the Ulu Kinta forest, Perak. This group was sent, as there were signs and information concerning the movement of the Communist Terrorists in the whole of that area. They were moving with impunity in that area, they dominated the ground there, it was time to show the Enemy that their days of terror were over. This combined group was inserted into the operational area on the 3rd June 1971. This combined unit was commanded by Captain Mohana Chandran al Velayuthan (200402) and assisted by 2LT Donald Patrick John (2000913), both who, were from the 4th Rangers. Left : Captain Mohana Chandran al Velayuthan (200402) Aged : 24 years old. A role model for Officers of the Ranger Corps.
They moved off from Camp Suvla Lines, located along Jalan Tambun in Ipoh with 2 X 3 ton trucks and a single Land Rover. They left the camp at 1100 hours heading towards Tanah Hitam, Chemor through Ulu Kinta. They debussed in a rubber plantation near the North Brigade Police Field Force Camp in Ulu Kinta. They moved for about a map square (1 km) to spend the night there. They moved for about a week in the area looking for enemy traces guided by the SEPs', who were mostly Chinese. During one of their outings on their own, escorted by the Rangers, they came upon an "Orang Asli" (Original People of Malaysia) settlement. The SEP's were familiar with the settlement and knew the people from this settlement. The SEP's managed to get some information from the Orang Asli. The rest of the group was not far off. They came back and said this," Friends, If you all want to be safe, it's better not to go"("Kawan kalau mahu selamat lebih baik tidak usah pergi"). To which Rgr Abang Bolhi bin Abang Din replied, "How can we do that, it is up to our Officer?"(Mana boleh buat apa, itu terpulang kepada Pegawai saya"). One of the SEP's asked one of the Orang Asli to guide the Rangers to the the Enemy location believed to be at Sungei Kinding. On the route to that location they came across an Orang Asli and two Chinese men. They detained them for awhile, releasing them only after their Orang Asli guide clarified that these 3 men were familiar faces and that they were looking for tin ore. The Orang Asli guide was only willing to guide them until Sungei Kinding, he was not willing to go further as he had come across a group of the well armed and uniformed enemy who numbered around 30 men. The Orang Asli left them there and returned to his settlement. They rested for the night at Sungei Kinding The following morning several patrols were sent out by Captain Chandran in many directions to get the lay of the land and to look for the signs of the Enemy. Rgr Bolhi was in 2Lt Donald's group. On that day they came across a hut. They checked out the area around and inside the hut. Rgr Abang Bolhi found a piece of paper, it was a receipt for the purchase of a chainsaw dated 24th March 1971. He handed over the receipt to 2Lt Donald. Rgr Bolhi then went down to the washing area near the hut, he found a green shirt which was hidden there. 2Lt Donald then, instructed Rgr Bolhi to move to Captain Chandran's location and hand over the shirt him and inform him of the finding. The following day they went out on a patrol which was the 12th of June 1971, with the intention of picking up traces of the Enemy's activities. After they came back from the patrol, Captain Chandran told them to cook, have their food and rest, as in the evening he wanted to discuss something with them. After they had their lunch and had rested they gathered for a briefing and orders from Captain Chandran. After delivering his orders, his final words before they were dismissed was,"Clean your weapons well, for tomorrow we are going to do battle". Most of the Rangers felt uneasy and anxious with these final words from Captain Chandran. Even his tone of voice was different that day. The words, we are going to do battle tomorrow, kept on playing in Rgr Bolhi's mind over and over again, all along the return journey to 2Lt Donald's location. Those words kept on ringing throughout that evening. He occupied himself by sewing his pants which was torn. He started sewing, one by one all the needles he used broke until he was left with the largest needle, which too broke. He was left thinking of all these ominous signs that were gathering. To keep his mind from further being troubled he went fishing to a nearby stream adjoining the base. He manged to catch some fish at dusk. He cooked them up to be eaten for the following day. The following day he forgot to take the cooked fish along with him on patrol. As planned on the 13th June 1971 a patrol of 15 men with two SEPs' went out on patrol. Which further broke up. Rgr Bolhi followed Captain Chandran's group, along with 601509 Cpl Rahman bin Jaafar, 929223 Rgr Bajau ak Ladi and 928939 Rgr Ali bin Jaafar. 2Lt Donald's group comprised of 203523 Cpl Osman bin Sharif (3rd Recce), Rgr Zainal, Rgr Norsin and 22594 Rgr Khasan bin Awang, the third group comprising of 5 men was commanded by Cpl Musa. Whilst on patrol 2Lt Donald asked for the M79 carried by Rgr Bolhi to be handed over to him. He told 2Lt Donald to ask Captain Chandran's permission. After receiving the instructions form Captain Chandran to hand over the M79, he was handed a sterling sub machine gun, like the rest in the group, with the exception of Rgr Ali who was carrying a Light Machine gun. They left their jungle base at 0800 hours in the morning, led by 2Lt Donald's group. Cpl Musa's group was instructed to lay an ambush on the trail they took, after leaving them behind, Cpl Musa's group they came across an Orang Asli hunting with his blow pipe. The SEP approached the Orang Asli and spoke to him. After that they left the Orang Asli. Rgrl Bolhi was the leading recce (scout) for Captain Chandran's group. He was followed by two of the SEP's, then followed by Capt Chandran, Rgr Bajau, Cpl Rahman and Rgr Ali. They were separated from 2lt Donald's group by a mere 10 meters. Relates Rgr Bolhi :" I was following the trail taken by 2Lt Donald's group, when I came across a trail cutting across, it looked suspiciously fresh. That trail was already crossed by 2Lt Donald's group who apparently did not notice it. I indicated that faint trail to the SEP's who were behind me. The SEPs' and I followed the trail which cut across the ridge. After following the trail for sometime, the SEP's confirmed that the trail was that of the Enemy. The SEP's were not sure whether it led into an Enemy stronghold or just a trail leading to the right of the ridge. We turned back to inform Captain Chandran of our findings. Captain Chandran ordered a halt, ordering me to move up and make contact with 2Lt Donald's group to return and marry up with his group for further discussions at the place where we halted. I ran towards the direction I last saw 2Lt Donald's group. At one point I nearly released a shot at a figure which suddenly emerged form the dense foliage, I later realised that it was Cpl Osman, the last man in 2Lt Donald's group. I hand signalled to Cpl Osman that 2Lt Donald and his group had to turn around. I took them back to the Captain's location. During the briefing by Captain Chandran, he told us that the SEP's were reluctant to follow the trail to the Enemy Camp. They knew that if they met up with their old comrades, they would be despatched to the nether world without mercy. They were therefore very adamant that they would not want to get involved in a direct confrontation with their former friends. Therefore he ordered them to move back to their base camp at Sungei Kinding on their own, without escorts. They could not be used for any battle, being the ex-commies they were. Captain Chandran radioed for reinforcements, instead he was instructed to make do with what he had. After lunch at around 1400 hours, 2Lt Donald moved off with his group to the right of the ridge, whereas our group (Captain's) moved to the left following the trail along the left of the ridge. As we moved along the trail, Captain Chandran reminded us about the river below the ridge, to be used as a guide back to Chemor, in the event, we needed to save ourselves. The river flowed towards Chemor. On the descent from the ridge, I was leading, followed by Captain Chandran, Rgr Bajau, Cpl Abdul Rahman and Rgr Ali bringing up at the rear most. From the beginning of the descent, I stopped several times to take a leak (urinate). Captain Chandran who was wearing a greyish shirt looked troubled and was chain smoking, I saw that his lips had turned pale. I even asked him if anything was the matter. To which he replied, that there was nothing the matter with him. There was this weird feeling in my gut. I tried to push away this gloomy and negative thoughts playing in my mind. With this fleeting disturbing thoughts I raced downhill, I reached the bottom of the hill where I reached a waterpoint, complete with a bamboo acting as a conduit for the flow of water. I filled up my water bottel, not realising that it was an Enemy waterpoint. Captain Chandran followed me quickly without stopping, overtook me, crossing the stream and started ascending the hill rapidly in front of me, as though he had picked up the scent of the enemy. After going up a few meters, I saw him signalling with his thumb pointed downwards with his left hand and followed by an indication of direction. That meant, enemy in front ! Without missing a heartbeat, I raced towards him to close up with him. As soon as I reached him, he told me to move forward and reconnoitre the enemy's position. Very slowly I moved forward to get close to the enemy's location. My distance to the enemy was 3 long strides away. I saw two of the enemy digging a fire trench whilst one other enemy who was in full uniform was acting as a lookout. The two enemy who were digging, were in white singlets and wearing grey colored pants. Suddenly 3 pairs of eyes locked onto me. They held my gaze for a fleeting moment before anyone reacted. Meanwhile Captain Chandran was taking cover behind a boulder to the right of me. The rest of the men were still downhill, not aware of what was happening in front of them.Thoughts were racing through my mind whether to to fire first, worrying I would not be able to kill them all. The thoughts of 3 against 1 started racing. I decided to use the grenade 36, I reached for the grenade, then the thought what if the greande fails to explode. I put the grenade back all this happening in split seconds. I quickly made a final decision, I opened up with my sterling sub machine gun, I saw all three of them fall. As I fired in the direction of the enemy, the enemy too, fired in my direction. I was hit in the left palm of my hand. The bullet penetrated my palm and came out. One more round went through the back of my right arm pit and came out through my right chest. The blood gushed out. I told myself, "God ! I am dead," thinking about death this time around. I fell and rolled downhill. As I rolled downhill I lost a magazine of rounds. In that instant Captain Chandran moved quickly to cover me, from being hit some more, by the direct enemy fire. He started firing on the enemy, from his cover to save me and keep the enemy's heads down. As soon as I had reached the bottom of the hill, I was being embraced by Rgr Bajau who was asking me, "What's happening Bolhi?" I was in a daze, I replied, that I was dying and that I was shot. Rgr Bajau ak Ladi on hearing this released me and immediately started firing uphill ". Rgr Bajau, then charged uphill firing until he was quite near Captain Chandran. The Captain ordered Rgr Bajau to provide him with covering fire, so as to enable him to close up with the enemy, Rgr Bajau obliged by bringing withering fire to bear upon the entrenched enemy. By this time, Cpl Abdul Rahman had reached the location, he took up a position beside Rgr Bajau and concentrated his fire too on the enemy poistion. Meanwhile Rgr Ali with the LMG still had not crossed the stream at the foothill. Rgr Bajau seeing tha Rgr Ali had difficulty moving with the LMG, raced downhill to take the LMG. Right :This is a Bren Gun, a LMG is a modified bren, the magazine in an LMG is straight unlike the bren which is curved. One can actually see the word Bren etched into the metal which is crossed out. He swapped his sterling for Ali's LMG. He heard Captain Chandran yelling " Section 1 to the left. Section 2 to the right. Attack ! Attack ! Attack ! Giving his orders clearly and cooly. During this exchange of weapons whilst Captain Chandran was assaulting the enemy, covered by Cpl Abdul Rahman, the enemy's rounds slammed into Captain Chandran. Rgr Bajau raced uphill with the LMG and set it up to provide covering fire for Captain Chandran. Without him (Capt Chandran) realising it, the enemy's bullets had hit him in the head. He continued firing by reflex action until he lay still, on the battle field that day in the forest of Ulu Kinta, Perak. Even though he had such a small group of men, his courage managed to confuse the enemy on the actual strength of the security forces. He knew he was outnumbered, after he had established contact with the enemy. It was too late to back off and wait for reinforcements, as it was late in the day.
What Captain Chandran did not know was that the enemy who were lying in wait for him was only a third of the enemy and very well entrenched, the other two thirds were out on a patrol. The enemy on top of the hill fought with great vigour bringing heavy and concentrated fire to bear upon Rgr Bajau and Cpl Abdul Rahman. Rgr Ali had by that time reached them, none of them could move due to the intense fire from the enemy. Cpl Abdul Rahman observed the situation for awhile and decided that maybe, maybe, Captain Chandran was killed as he was not moving and as his voice was no more heard, he was not sure of anything at that time. Rgr Bajau continued advancing, firing fiercely with his LMG braving the enemy's bullets. As he advanced, trying to destroy the enemy who were uphill and dominating the ground, Rgr Bajau felt something collide with his left thigh. He saw blood flowing from the impact of the round and felt the warm wetness of the blood spreading on his trousers. He shouted out to Cpl Abdul Rahman, "Corporal I am hit in the leg ! " He took cover assisted by Cpl Abdul Rahman behind a boulder, which prevously was the location Captain Chandran. Which he had used as his own cover, before assaulting the enemy from that position. With the enemys strength being very much larger and them dominating the ground , not much could be done by Cpl Abdul Rahman and Rgr Ali. After sometime they heard two explosions from an M79, probabaly from 2Lt Donald's group, which did not seem to have much of an effect on the enemy. The enemy continued raining bullets on them. After half an hour of intense firing by the enemy the firing gradually abated. Cpl Abdul Rahman's ears were ringing with the sounds of the battle. The line of sight was fading for him He looked in the direction where Captain Chandran lay, before losing sight of him. Suddenly he saw a jungle hat hanging on the thorns of a rattan plant, swaying gently, being blown about by the wind. He recognised that as belonging to his Company Commander, Captain Chandran. He was still hoping in his heart that his Officer was still alive, hoping to see the jovial and familiar face, for at that moment, he felt so very alone and the responsibility of command weighed down on him so very heavily. He continued observing to see whether Captain Chandran would walk up to him. He crawled towards the direction where Captain Chandran lay, ordering Rgr Ali to lay down covering fire for him. He went close to Captain Chandran, he was lying in the prone position. He did not notice any wounds on Captain Chandran at first. He turned him over and found two holes in the left and right of his head and blood flowing out of them. There was no pulse. All his fears came true that day. Cpl Abdul Rahman pulled and dragged his body into a depression in the ground not far from his previous position. He took Captain Chandran's pistol, sub machine gun, compass, map, watch and all the ammunition on him,. he covered the body with leaves from the "bertam" plant, found in the area. Before he withdrew from the position, he yelled out with all his might, "B Company covering fire, C Company assault !! This was a ruse, trying to deceive the enemy that two companys of troops were assaulting them. With that cry they continued firing uphill on the enemy. After sometime they heard the enemy gathering their belongings to retreat, shouting, "Chau, chau, chau "(let's go, let's go, let's go ). He informed Rgr Bajau and Rgr Ali that Captain Chandran was no more with them. Cpl Abdul Rahman ordered Rgr Bajau and Rgr Ali to stay at their posts until night fell. The intention was to withdraw from their location under the cover of darkness, to avoid being spotted by the enemy who might still be hanging around the top of the hill. The rain started coming down in torrents, Cpl Rahman ordered Rgr Bajau who was wounded to observe uphill, Rgr Ali to observe the left while he himself observed the right of their location. Captain Chandran's body was not too far behind them. After sometime he ordered them to maintain their watch as he wanted to get the radio at the bottom of the hill. Even though the radio was faulty he managed to get his message to Platoon 1 of A Company which was in the vicinity. He was instructed to remain in his position be patient and that help was on the way. At around 1800 hours, Rgr Bajau started complaining that he could not stand the pain. Cpl Rahman put on fresh dressings on him and told him to be patient and that help was on the way. They were there and the time was now 2000 hours, help still had not arrived. Rgr Bajau continued bleeding profusely and was in great pain. There was alot of blood coming out of his thigh. Cpl Abdul Rahman started worrying, he repeatedly reassured and consoled Bajau, asking him to bear the pain. He reassured Bajau again and again. He also told him that people who must die will die, but not Rgr Bajau. He asked Rgr Bajau if he was willing to walk at night to reach their base. To which Rgr Bajau agreed, at 2030 hours they started walking leaving the place of battle. They left the area with a heavy heart, knowing well that they were leaving the body of their commander and leader and Rgr Bolhi whose location they did not know. They walked all night until morning stopping to rest every now and then. That night as they were walking back to their base they saw alot of flares being fired, not knowing the reason for this. The flares guided them back to their base. As dawn broke he had sucessfully brought the two men to the bottom of the hill. The sun arose and the day cleared, aiding visibility. They continued moving, after climbing a hill at around 0830 hours they ran into a group from B Company commanded by Captain Ariffin, who were actually racing towards them to provide support. They were given food and drinks by Captain Ariffin's group. Captain Ariffin organised a stretcher party to carry Rgr Bajau to a LP (landing point). This was to evacuate Rgr Bajau who was suffering from a severe loss of blood. A helicopter came in and evacuated Rgr Bajau. After which Cpl Abdul Rahman and Rgr Ali took Captain Ariffin's group to the place of battle. On this journey they did not follow their initial route, They followed a different direction, in the event the enemy was still around to surprise them. They were hoping to destroy the enemy by surprising them instead. This too was to prevent them running into a well defended enemy location. Even as they tried avoiding running into the enemy, they made conatct with th enemy. They were fired upon by the enemy, there was an intense exchange of fire. The day was getting dark, therefore Captain Ariffin ordered all of them, to go into an all round defence position, as it would be too risky to conduct an assault in unfavourable light conditions. If at all they were to do battle, it would be the following day. The Enemy had withdrawn, therefore, Captain Ariffin on the third day after the battle ordered them to look for the body of Captain Chandran and Rgr Abang Bolhi, whose location and his state was still vague. The Platoon was broken up into smaller units and sent in all directions to look for them. They repeatedly shouted the name of Abang Bolhi. At around 0900 hours in the morning they heard a very faint reply in the silence of the jungle, "I am here, I am here". He was found in a very weak state. There were maggots in his wounds. This was good news indeed for Cpl Abdul Rahman who felt very guilty and responsible for Rgr Abang Bolhi. He gave his praises to God for answering his prayers. Not long after that the body of Captain Chandran was discovered. Rgr Abang Bolhi and the body of the Captain were carried to a nearby hill, located not far from the enemy camp. Rgr Abang Bolhi and the body of Captain Chandran were winched out of the area after which they were flown to the Ipoh General Hospital. After that, they conducted a search on the Enemy Camp. It was very well constructed, located on a strategic location, dominating all approaches to it. It was constructed on a small hill, on the slope of a ridge, not easily detected with a very narrow approach to it. It would have been very difficult to detect, as sometimes hunters and soldiers always used the easier route by following a ridge. To reach the Enemy camp one had to scale a very steep incline. It would have been very difficult to conduct an attack. It would have taken at least a Battalion to successfully conduct an assault. There were many tracks and trails out of the camp, left by the Enemy. It was a large camp which could accomodate around 60 men. The camp had communication trenches to enable the Enemy to move around without being exposed to outsiders by sight or fire. The communication trenches were 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep, connecting their fighting trenches.The communication trenches were dug in the direction that would be the probable approach of an attacking force. Logs were used to reinforce the parapets of the fire trenches. The sleeping accomodation of the Enemy was dug into the ground. It was constructed to withstand aerial and artillery bombardments, unless of course, there was direct hit. They constructed a piping system, using bamboo to bring water to their camp, having a continous supply of clean water. They left behind their supplies of "belachan" (prawn paste) and salted fish in their haste, fleeing. From these observations it was assessed that the camp was not a temporary camp but a permanent camp which was being actively used. Ranger Abang Bolhi relates his story :"I prayed to God to keep death away from me. I also prayed that there be heavy downpour to wash away the blood trails left by me, so that the enemy would not be able to detect me. God, granted this request by a heavy downpour. I am grateful for this. I lost my strenght to move due to the gunshot wounds. As I was not able to move, not hearing the voices of my comrades anymore, I assumed all of them were dead killed by the Enemy. I decided to rest there by sleeping, in my weakened state. Before I closed my eyes to sleep, I recalled Captain Chandran saying if anything bad happens, to use the river as a guide to head for Chemor. I decided to follow his advise the following morning. After getting up on the 14th June, I observed my surroundings, I had lost alot of blood. I had to look for the river mentioned by my Commander. I was very weak, I moved very slowly, to avoid a heavy loss of blood, as the blood flow could not be stemmed. The blood flow was from my chest, behind my arm pit and the palm of my hand. Sometimes I crawled. I managed to reach a very small tributary, which flowed into the river mentioned by Captain Chandran. Once I reached the stream I wet my "good morning" towel to clean off some of the blood. As I was late in cleaning my wounds, flies and little bees had visited my wounds. They had laid eggs in my wounds. As I tried cleaning the wounds at the back, I discovered that the wounds were infested with maggots. I had a field dressing, could not do much as I was injured in both the hands, I did not have the strength. Whilst I was cleaning the wounds I saw a small cave in front of me. I decided to spend the night in that cave. " At exactly 1845 hours, he observed his watch which was a "Rado", he saw 7 Communist Terrorists fully armed and equipped enter the cave. "My heart gave a leap and I let out a stifled cry of "God". I thought of throwing a grenade into the cave, I was not capable to toss the greande that far, I realised that, after thinking about it. I was too weak. The other reason was my grenade was coated with blood and had been soaked with water, the chances of exploding might not be a hundred percent. I then thought of opening fire, then I was too weak. Anyway I checked the rounds in my magazine and cocked my sub machine gun and decided to fight it out if I was discovered. I stayed awake and alert with bouts of tiredness and dizziness until the morning. At 0500 hours the Enemy came out of the cave and left the area. On the 15th June, even though I had not eaten for two days except drinking water I felt my strength return. I was wondering whether to head for the river, my guide to safety. My spirits returned, I knew I would not die. I decided I would not follow the river to head for Chemor, I climbed up the hill where I spent the previous night. I reached the spot where I had slept. I heard someone calling out, I knew it was search party, I yelled out to them with all the strength I could muster, "Heelppppp". The returning voice asked me to identify myself. I replied by shouting out my name, deceiving myself that it was a shout, it was a very weak voice of mine which said, Ranger Abang Bolhi, 4th Rangers", whilst slowly moving toward the voices. I made it to the boys from B Company, 4th Rangers, a small group which was commanded by Cpl Morni. I was carried by them uphill where they set me down, brewed hot tea and gave me a can of pineapples. After awhile I was taken to an LP, where I was winched out by a helicopter. After spending time in a Hospital in the town of Ipoh, I was taken to Camp Terendak to recuperate at the Armed Forces Hospital there. I was treated and rehabilitated there for 6 months. " This is Cpl Osman's story : "We were already at the location, below the hill, when the firing started, as ordered by Captain Chandran. We thought that the firing was a signal by Captain Chandran to signal the start of the attack on the Enemy location. Once the firing started we started moving closer to the foothill. We could not assault due to the steep incline of the hill, the superior strength, devastating firepower and the strategic location of the Enemy. The Enemy had started directing fire upon us. The Enemy could not effectively engage us as they were too high up. The bullets passed above us. We moved into better cover position and returned fire. After that I and 2Lt Donald who had joined up with me decided to relocate. To enable this relocation I released two round from the M79, I took from Ranger Zainal. This enabled 2Lt Donald to relocate. After which 2Lt Donald and his group brought fire to bear on the Enemy, enabling Rgr Zainal and me to relocate. At around 1800 hours, we went up onto the slope of the hill to the location, behind the enemy engaging Captain Chandran and his group. That location we assumed would be the withdrawal route of the Enemy. We made a linear ambush, disappointingly the Enemy did not use that route. The following morning, we met up with a group, who were reinforcements from 4th Rangers, with the news that Captain Chandran had fallen." Captain Mohan Chandran a/l Velaythan was the son of Seremban, Negri Sembilan and a son of Malaysia. He was awarded the "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa", posthumously by his Majesty the King, for his actions which were beyond the call of duty in the highest traditions of the Ranger Corps. He was killed in action aged 24 years old in the prime of his life, so that Malaysians of all walks of life did not end up living under the yoke of communism. He was the role model for many a Ranger Officer. The valour award was received by his father. Cpl Osman and Ranger Bajau were awarded the "Pingat Gagah Berani" for valour. From the onset of the fire fight Ranger Bajau displayed his grit and determination to destroy the enemy by exchanging his Sterling sub machine gun (9mm) for a Light Machine Gun (7.62mm). He along with Captain Chandran and others exchanged fire with the enemy.When the time came to assault the heavily defended enemy position he did not hesitate to follow his leader during the assault. Ranger Abang Bolhi was awarded the "Mentioned In Despatches (KPK)". Captain Chandran was born on 15th May 1947 and the youngest in a family of 4. His mother passed away whilst he was still only a year old. His dad did remarry. He was raised and brought up by his grandmother, Madam T. Athyletchumi in Kuala Lumpur. He used to visit his step mother frequently, they did become close. His step mum loved him as her own. He received his early education in Kuala Lumpur until Form 5, where he got a grade 2 for his MCE. He started his career as a Regular Cadet on the 11th July 1965. He graduated from Port Sea He was commissioned as a 2Lt Lieutenant into the 4th Battalion Ranger Regiment on the 11 June 1966. His bravery and courage always astounded his brother Officers and his much loved men. He used to be a physical fitness fanatic. He had his men dig pits and wrestled with them in the wet and muddy pits. They were to throw out their opponents from the pits. Whoever left behind was the winner. He and his men had great fun together, he loved being with his men. On operations he used to visit his sub-units on his own in the jungle, which were distances apart. Sometimes he took his batman along visiting his platoons and sections, which lay scattered in the operational area. To move alone in the jungle, where the enemy actively operated, took alot of courage. Cpl Osman bin Sharif was selected to participate in the operation. He was from the 3rd Reconnaisance Regiment. He was directed to follow 2Lt Donald's group. The reason he was commanding a Ranger Section, was that the original Ranger Section Commander fell ill and he was tasked to act as one. Cpl Osman was born in Kampong Legong Ulu Kota, Negri Sembilan. He was the eldest of 7 children in the family. He was born on the 26th March 1941. His father's name was Sharif bin Hasan and his mum's name was Jamaah bte Ludan. He received his early education in the Melayu Legong Ulu Primary School until Standard 6. When he was a teenager he worked as a contract labourer in Singapore, after which as an estate labourer in Legong. He started his Military career on the 15th April 1961. The Military life to him was easy, as he had faced greater hardship when he was a labourer. As he showed great potential he was selected to become an instructor at the Recruit Training Center in Port Dickson. After 5 years as an instructor where he held the rank of a Corporal, he was transferred to the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment in Port Dickson. His Squadron was responsible for the formation of the 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment in Camp Ramilies in Ipoh in 1970. After that he continued serving with 3rd Recce. He finished his career with the rank of a Warrant Officer 1, becoming a Regimental Sergeant Major. He also was an instructor at the Royal Military College in Sungei Besi. He served the nation for 24 years. He is now in a Felda Scheme (agricultural scheme) in Palong Lapan in Gemas. 929223 Ranger Bajau anak Ladi is an Iban, who was born in Kampong Sebemban, Lundu, Sarawak on the 20th March 1947. He began his career in the Military in 1966. He was abandoned by his parents when he was still a little kid. He was raised up by his elder brother and had the opportunity for education until Standard 6 only, at the Bumiputera Lundu School. Before he joined the Army he worked as a waiter for the British Army in the Lundu Camp. He joined the Army after his stint as a waiter. After his completion of recruit training he joined Platoon 8. C Company 4th Rangers in Ipoh, after which they moved to Serian in Sarawak. When the troubles of May 13th 1969 broke out he was assigned in the Kual Kurau area in Perak. He was involved in the dispersion of rioters who tried to storm the Police Station in Kuala Kurau. Rgr Bajau was a member of the elite Tiger Platoon of 4th Rangers(Unit Combat Intelligence Squad). He ended his career on the 25th June 1976 after serving for ten years with the rank of a Lance Corporal.
REMEMBERING OUR MILITARY IN THE CONGO (ONUC ) 1960 A MOST MEMORABLE NIGHT
Monday, January 04, 2021
The Greyhound Armoured Car armed with a 37mm gun.
The original plan of the Malayan Special Force (MSF) called for a three week retraining in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and then be deployed in Kasai Province in support of the Ghanaian Brigade.
But it was not to be, the minute we arrived at Leopoldville on 02 November 1960, we were immediately given unscheduled tasks like guarding Key Points and installations and a host of other duties besides road patrolling. The troops created a favourable impressions among ONUC staff and the few expatriates including some Belgians in the city. We were considered well disciplined and smart in turn out. The Ferret Scout Cars created an impact whoever they went; always drawing curious attention from the awe stricken local populace.
We scheduled our Presentation Parade on 22 November. The night of 21 November 1960 turned out to be a most memorable night for me. I was Duty Officer which meant I was the only officer in Camp Chanic after working hours. The rest of the Officers were at our Officers Mess located about five kilometres away. There were a few officers deployed elsewhere, one was 2/Lt Borhan Ahmad whose No 4 Platoon was guarding the residence of Patrice Lumumba, the deposed elected Prime Minister. The Platoon task was to prevent Lumumba from being captured by the Congolese army.
By this time Colonel Joseph Mobutu, the Chief of Staff had staged a Coup-de-Tet and assumed power. He broke off dipolamatic relation with Ghana and declared the Ambassador persona non grata. Mobutu gave him 48 hours to leave but the Envoy waas defiant and remained at his Residence after the deadline. He had a Platoon of Tunisian troops guarding his Residence. As a comparison a Tunisian Platoon had more men than our Rifle Platoon, their Infntry Company consisted of 200 soldiers and commanded by a Lieutenant and the Brigade Commander was only a Colonel in rank.
The explosive situation of 21 November at the Ghanian Ambassador Residence caught us unaware. Certainly as the Duty Officer holding the Fort, I was not briefed. By 1600 hours truckloads of Congolese troops had surrounded the Residence. Prior to that the Tunisians had beefed up their strength to two hundred men. At 1800 hours the Congolese brought in five more truckloads of soldiers plus one Greyhound Armoured Car armed with aa 37mm gun. The highly charged atmosphere exploded around 1945 hours. A point to note, our 2 Recce Regiment prior to 1960 was a full blooded Cavalry unit equipped with the Daimler Armoured Car (DAC) and the Dingo Scout Cars.
Our DAC armed with a 2 pounder similar to the 37 mm gun of the Greyhound. In Gunnery we were taught T&A (testing and adjustment) of gun barrel with the telescopic sight. The Congolese obviously did not do T&A or sheer bad gunnery, possibly both, when in the heat of battle the Greyhound took aim at the Ghanian Residence and fired one round. The neighbouring house was the Officers Mess of the Royal Canadian Signal Regiment. Horror of horrors, that round meant for the Ghanian went through the ceiling of the Officers Mess.
As related by a Canadian officer, they were having dinner when the round came through and caused a total blackout. The officers dived for cover, the end of dinner!!
The whole incident occured less than a kilometre from our Camp. Tracers could be seen flying all over the sky. At Leopoldville we were placed under command of the Tunisian Brigade whose HQ was located adjacent to our Camp. Seen clearly were the battle ready Tunisian soldiers in full battle order on standby at their HQ. Two senior officers approached me and a
sked for our Ferret armoured escort. I told them to contact my Squadron Leader, Maj Zain Hashim at the Officers Mess.
There was no escort and nothing moved from the UN side during that night. During the fighting the shooting was wild and indiscriminate. A ceasefire came into effect at 0700 hours the next morning. There were many casualties but those killed in action were relatively light. The Tunisian suffered two killed and the Congolese four deaths but it included the Leopoldville Garrison Commander, Colonel N'Kokolo. Camp Leopold the largest military camp in Leopoldville was renamed Camp N'Kokolo in his honour.
The aftermath of the incident was swirling hot rumours of a imminent revenge attack by the Congolese Army on ONUC HQ. That's another story for another day!
Military Parade In Malaya, 1960's - THE PRESENTATION PARADE
Courtesy of Lt Col TAN SIEW SOO (Retired) , ARMOUR. Postscript : this historic video was captured by our two Malaayaan Film Unit officers, Hon Maj Zain Syed Hassan and Hon Lt Amir Shamsuddin who were with us during the first three months.
Remembering Our Military In The Congo (ONUC) 1960.
Tuesday, November 03, 2020
On November 3rd 1960, C Squadron 2 Recce (now 2 Armour) minus the Rifle Troop had arrived at the Leopoldville (Kinshasa) Railway Station in the morning. Despite the ongoing strike, we managed to successfully unload all our vehicles, aa great deal through our own effort by the afternoon.
All our Ferret armoured cars were lined up and ready to roll by 1500 hours. It was going to be a show parade driving past "Le Royal", ONUC HQ enroute to our new Camp Ozone.
This was a nice PR exercise to showcase the Armoured element of our Malayan Special Force to the UN and the local populace. No soft skinned vehicles, only the 18 Ferret Scout Cars coloured in Port Dickson green driven in a single file. The irony was, we were led by a non Armoured Volkswagen Beetle driven by Maj Desmond Furney, an Irish man seconded to 1 Recce Regiment and employed as our Senior Liaison Officer at ONUC HQ.
At around 1600 hours, the long thin line of 18 Ferret Scout Cars followed the the Volkswagen of Maj Furney on a momentous journey for the drive past to our new camp. Maj Zain Hashim led in the leading Ferret, 2/Lts Tan Siew Soo in the 3rd Ferret, Philip Lee Khui Fui in the 7th Ferret, Tee Bua Bian in the 11th Ferret and Teoh Say Chee in the 15th Ferret.
Unknown to most of us then, Lt Gen Carl Von Horn (a Swede), UN Supreme Commander appeared smiling at the window of the 6th Floor. What was more obvious and very touching was clearly the friendly wave of hands by the many UN staff particularly the Secretaries who had gathered at the balcony to greet and welcome us.
It is an occasion like this that makes one extremely proud of the uniform and the Regiment to which one belongs!!
On this day, 60 years ago Malaysia's(Malaya then) first ever contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Operation
Thursday, October 01, 2020
MSF officers with the USN officers of LST 1169. Front row: 2/Lt Philip Lee, Capt Loh Sai Kee, USN, Maj Robert Mahmud Yusof, Lt Cdr LST Capt, Maj Zain Hashim, USN, Capt EWC Rodriques, Capt(Dr) Dennis Lopes. Rear: Capt Zainal Dato Ahmad, 2/Lt Tan Siew Soo, Capt C Dorairaju, 2/Lt Ahmad Che Wan, Hon Lt Syed Alwi Syed Hassan, Lt Omar Musajee, 2/Lt Aziz Saif, 2/Lt Annuar Hashim and 2/Lt Tee Bua Bian.
The Malayan Special Force (MSF) departed for the Congo. Earlier on 28 September, the wheeled element consisting of 18 Ferret armoured cars and all soft skinned vehicles and stores motored down to the Royal Malaysian Naval Base in Woodlands, Singapore awaiting the arrival two US Navy Landing Ship Tank (LST). When loading waas completed we departed Woodlands on the evening of 02 October for Port Swettenham (Klang).
The Troop Carrier
The two LSTs arrived at Port Swettenham in the morning and berthed around 0800 hours. At the wharf we joined the main contingent which was already formed up for the address by the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj. The Port scene was spectacular, packed with relatives, friends, well wishers and others to senf off this Special Force. The full compliment of 43 officers and 613 men paraded at the wharf, led by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ungku Nazaruddin Ungku Mohamed (Bruno).
All the Officers
One significant point the Prime Minister mentioned was :
".... while you are abroad you will uphold the good name of the Federation of Malaya. I hope you will remember the Malay proverb, Biar puteh tulang, jangan puteh mata, (better death than dishonour )...."
This piece of advice was taken to heart by this first group of MSF.
As soon as the speech was over, Single Pioneer and Twin Pioneer aircrafts of our young RMAF flew past in salutation. The troops then boarded the two LSTs to begin a most memorable 28 day non-stop voyage to the Port of Matadi in the Congo.
Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku
TAN SIEW SOO, Lt Col (rtd) ARMOUR.
Sometime in the mid1990s a band of vetgerans led by the late ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong formed the inaugural branch of the Sarawak’s Veterans Association of Malaysia.
Their objective was to assist in the welfare of the hundreds of “forgotten”Sarawak policemen attached to the Border Scouts (BS), Police Field Force (PFF), Special Branch (SB) as the Sarawak Ranger Regiment.
ASP Gomez, a Sarawak Iban lawyer Gomez and Ranger Regiment Warrant Officer Dajai anak Angie were among committee decorated who had won Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) which is Malaysia’s second highest award for gallantry.
Under the constitution and by virtue of being the son of Sarawak’s first Malaysian Commissioner of Police, I was appointed honorary secretary.
It was family friend Hthe Veterans Association of Malaysia in 1955-- who motivated Sarawak to start our own separate veterans association.
Harold who operated as a guerilla while living with Semai community of Cameron Highlands, likened the Dayaks to the loyal Orang Asli community who had joined the anti-Japanese army fight the Japanese.
After the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Harold felt that both the Orang Asli and Dayaks of Sarawak were not duly rewarded or recognised by the government and so he formed the Penang Veterans Association in 1996.
At that time a census by the Sarawak veterans association showed there were a large number of “forgotten” members of the security forces—including a few score of ex-trackers, about 1,000 Border Scouts, Sarawak PFF, SB and Sarawak Ranger Regiment personnel.
Even today, there are several hundred surviving Border Scouts and Sarawak soldiers who had served the country well but felt they were short-changed.
Among the families some of forgotten heroes are that of Cpl Natu bin Kadir who was killed by communists in a roadblock along the Old Serian road in 1952, Cpl Kim Huat and PCs Bujang Mohamad, Wan Jamaluddin and Insol anak Chundang who were killed in the Limbang Rebellion of 1962 and former Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan’s brother Sgt Simon Peter who was killed defending the Siburan police station against terrorists.
Others who sacrificed their lives for the country were PFF commander Supt Johnny Mustapha after he was killed in a comunist ambush at Stabau in Sibu together with PCs Nuing anak Saling and Abang Masri Mohd Nor on April 6, 1975
Nearly 50 Border Scouts have been killed while defending the country—nine Kenyah natives against Indonesian terrorists at Long Jawe in Belaga and 12 Iban against the communists at Ulu Sungei Ngemah in Kanowit on August 27, 1970
Special branch Inspector Herman Wong Teck Hung who was assassinated by two terrorists on a motor-cycle in front of his home at Jalan Oya in Sibu on December 1, 1970 was the most senior special branch officer to be killed.
One of the most tragic deaths was the killing of Iban headman Penghulu Imban anak Medan who was tortured by the before he was shot and his body mutilated by terrorists at his longhouse at Nanga Skuau on February 25, 1972.
The terrorists had promised to spare his life if he agreed to work with them, but he refused and was brutalised before he was murdered.
In a letter to the Chief Minister on March 10, 2002 Sarawak’s Special Branch head the late Datuk Lawrence Lim Eng Liong said that the Sarawak Communists took care of their comrades even after they were killed.
He said that in the case of the death of Iban communist leader Ubong anak Nuing hundreds of former communists turned up at his funeral.
Lawrence who gave a copy of the letter to me personal lamented:
“If Ubong is accorded as a hero, why not the late Supt Johnny Mustapha, Inspector Harmon Wong, Sergeant Major Edward Kula and Cpl Kong Siew Lung and forty five other police personnel?
“What about the military—eighty of them personnel from 1st Ranger and the Malay Regiment? What about the civilians, including the late Penghulu Imban and 120 three of them? They all lost their lives, gone with history, named also forgotten, being buried in the files.”
Even though Lawrence passed away on January 7, 2006, his plea has not fallen upon deaf ears.
Three former Sarawak policemen who served Sarawak well and died for the country--Supt Johnny Mustapha, the late Special Branch chief Datuk Alli Kawi who was one of those who played a role in the surrender of the communist leader Bong Kee Chok in 1973 and Malaysia’s surviving recipient of the George Cross Awang anak Raweng—received State awards in 2018.
As the saying goes—better late than never!
But the fact remains that are scores of other brave ordinary Sarawak still waiting in the wings hoping against hope that all things are possible?
At 17 years old, the stocky rugby player from Penang was forced to become a fugitive for championing the cause of the people during the Japanese invasion.
He had joined the Penang Eurasian Volunteer “E” Company under Lt A. Wilwebber, was “bodyguard” for the freedom fighter M Saravanamuttu who helped bring about a situation of calm during the bombing of Penang on December 8, 1941 where tragically thousands were killed or wounded.
Together with Saravanamuttu, better know as Uncle Sara, and another Eurasian Oswald Foley, they helped evacuate several British Officers who were fleeing to Singapore.
The three of them drove a truck to pick up the officers, taking them to Sungei Pinang, before putting them on a “tongkang” with food and water during a midnight operation.
Uncle Sara was arrested by the Japanese for being a British Collaborator and locked in a cell measuring eight by eight feet for nine months. However, Harold
Within weeks of the Japanese invasion was a wanted man with a $500 price on his head.
Taking to the jungles of Pahang, he spent the war years on the run while living with the Orang Asli Semai tribe with his young wife Molly Macintyre and first-born son.
While this happening his father, Claire Alexandra Speldewinde, joined the South East Asia Command in Peredenia in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).The Ceylon-born Eurasian Dutch Burgher had been transferred to Malaya as a forester in the early 1900s before establishing his own rubber plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Harold’s youngest brother Ernie accompanied his father to Ceylon, while brother Bill joined the British Navy and Dick based himself in Kuala Lumpur.
In a recent interview with 84-years old “uncle” Harold at his Bukit Glugor home in Penang he reminisced.
“Heroes like Uncle Sara used a wireless to appeal to the invading forces to stop the bombing and Ivan Allen who had cycled to Sungei Petani to inform the Japanese there that the British had fled. This helped prevent a greater onslaught of the local folk.
“For all our sacrifices were not remembered, not even a word of thanks from the British,” he said.
Uncle Harold who celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary on May 24 also spoke of how he managed to marry his childhood sweet Molly while still on the run.
“While in the jungle I was able to communicate with Molly through messages
which were sent through secret couriers and friends. I also sneaked into Penang to meet her when I could.”
After a simple wedding ceremony in Penang, Harold went back to the jungles of Cameron Highlands with his young wife to carry on the struggle. Their hideout was within the operation are of the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) of whom the famous Chin Peng was a leader (later it was renamed Force 136).
Molly recalled the day she arrived at her new jungle home. “We walked from midnight to noon before reaching an Orang Asli hut on a steep hill.”
They were living near a 200-strong Semai community who had vowed to protect them. After all, they Orang Asli had close association with the caring Claire Speldewine who had worked in the area as a forester and rubber planter and that was the least they could do for his son.
Harold continued:” We lived on a hill while the Orang Asli was in a valley about two kilometers away.
We had only a few clothes and the stream nearby was our toilet. We fished in the river using traps such as “bubo”, ate ubi kayu, bamboo shots and small mamals, if they were available.
“I carried a carbine rifle but had no opportunity to use it. The Orang Asli was like sentries and would alert us if the enemy was approaching. So this is now we spent the war years.”
Their son.....was born in the jungle and it was a great celebration for not only the Spendewindes but also the orang Asli.
After the war Harold went on to become a planter and this led him to Sabah. Here he found new friends and his name was associated with the big-time planters in Malaysia.
Later on Harold went on to form the Penang Veterans Association of which is he still president. He also was a patron of the Persatuan Veteran Keselamatan Malaysia and opened a branch office in Sarawak. Lawyer and retired police ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong, a recipient of the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) award for bravery, was its first President and James Ritchie, its secretary.
During this time Harold and his veteran team from the peninsular visited several longhouses in Ulu Julau and Lubok to catch up with the Iban trekkers, retired Sarawak Rangers, war veterans and Border Scouts, enquiring about their welfare. A census showed there were several hundred over the age of 60 who were still surviving.
During one of the visits Harold was conferred the honorary title “Tuai Rumah” Harold anak Speldewinde, a position which he accepted with pride.
At that time Wilfred and “Tuai Rumah” Harold concurred that the government should set up a special Sarawak veterans association to look into the welfare of these old timers. During that time there was also an exchange programme where Sarawak’s veterans such as “Sape” player Uchau Bilung and others took part in cultural performances, including blowpipe skills. Some of the veterans even visited the Orang Asli famous for their Senoi Praque trekker unit.
Harold who was a past President of the Penang Eurasian Association went on to restore Fort Cornwallis and is now on a new mission—to unravel the mystery of the Penang Cenotaph—a monument built by the British in the 1920s.
“The Penang Cenotaph is a monument which is dedicated to all the war veterans who sacrificed their lives to make Malaysia a safer place for everyone. However, it appears that none of our historians know when it was exactly constructed,” he lamented.
While on his quest to find out more about the history behind the Cenotaph, Harold is thinking of making a sentimental journey to Sarawak sometime soon.
“I had operations on both my legs but there are still not that strong to take me far. However, I must come back to Sarawak.”
If I know the Octogenarian well, he will live up to his war cry-Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban!!
Battle of Limbang - Brave Policemen By James Ritchie
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Limbang - Sir Jeremy Moore
In the early hours of December 8, 1962 the rural town of Limbang underwent an infamous insurrection which shook Sarawak as it was preparing for become Independent.
This was the long-forgotten “Battle of Limbang” when several hundred Kedayan rebels led by former Sarawak constabulary Sgt Salleh Sambas, captured the shantytown, the hospital and government offices and took the British Resident and his wife hostage.
However, in an epic fight nine brave Sarawak policemen from the Iban, Malay, Bidayuh, Selakau and Melanau communities, defended their station with their 303 rifles in a fierce gun five-hour battle before it finally fell.
But not before losing four dead Sarawak policemen and four dead rebels and a dozen others injured.
In the last moments of the capture and fall of the police station, two Police constables—an Iban from Simanggang and Selekau from Lundu-- swore to fight to the death despite being surrounded by dozens of armed rebels.
It was a life-and death occasion for Iban bren gunner PC Bisop anak Kunjan who recalled the tragic incident that occurred 57 years ago Bisop who was 22 at that time said: “The incident is still clear in my mind when we lost four loyal policemen.”
The dead policemen were Bidayuh Cpl Kim Huat from Kuching and PCs Wan Jamaluddin, Bujang bin Mohamad and Insol anak Chundang, an Iban.
The events unfolded a day after a rebellion had taken place in neighbouring Brunei—hours by river or road. Station office Inspector Latiff Basah, had just alerted his men when the attack took place.
An Iban from Undop in Simanggang, Bisop said that as a precaution Latiff placed a loaded light machine gun on top of the counter of the charge room with instructions that if we came under attack the first man there should man the weapon.
At 2 a.m. on that fateful day Bisop thought he was dreaming when he heard his colleague Wan Jamaluddin bin Tuanku Alek shouting “musuh...musuh” (enemy… enemy). ”
In his underwear and singlet, Bisop jumped out of bed and rushed to the charge room and to his horror realised Jamaluddin, a Malay from Kuching, had already been killed in the initial attack and was lying just outside police station compound.
Next to him was a dead rebel whom Jamaluddin had shot.
The attack came when Jamaluddin dashed into the barracks to alert his colleagues. He returned to his post but was killed outside the station by a section of the 300 to 400 armed rebels who had captured the town.
He reminisced: “I dashed to my bed, wore my pengaroh amulet around my neck and went back to the counter still in my white underpants. I started firing at the rebels who were now trying to get into the station.
“I saw several rebels trying to enter the police station.
Then I realised that the enemy who were only armed with shotguns could see us under the lights of the police station. So I fired a shot at the charge room’s florescence light and the whole room went dark.”
Bisop who was an expert gunner having trained at the Police Training School in Kuching when he was a recruit in 1960, said only a handful of constables they tried to defend the station.
Among those who agreed to fight to the death were Cpl Kim Huat, Cpl Muling anak Musan, PC Sanggah, a Selakau from Lundu, P.C. Essa bin Marataim, PC Insol anak Chundang and PC Bujang bin Mohamad.
Reminiscing, Bisop continued: “In the initial attack Essa managed to kill a rebel who tried to enter the charge room from the back door. But he ran out of ammunition and climbed into the ceiling of the barracks with his rifle. He remained there without food but drank some rain water that seeped through the belian atap, for four days until Limbang was relieved.”
“In the midst of the battle we ran of ammunition and Cpl Kim Huat got the key to the armoury.
We used the rifle barrel to force open the wooden ammunition box and continued to fight. I picked and chose when to fire single shots or bursts of gunfire at the enemy who surrounded the station.
“At about 2.50 a.m. Cpl Kim Huat, a Bidayuh from Kuching, was shot but died 15 minutes later crying out “mother I’m dying.”
From then on there was sporadic fighting - most of the married couples and their families had fled from the police barracks–while only half the policemen stayed on to fight.
At the government office, PC Zaini bin Titun was on duty when the rebels tried to enter the premises.
He fled and along the way and met Cpl Muling who killed one rebel and inflicted serious injury on nine others.
Corporal Muling and Zaini was captured later in the morning but the former suceeded in escaping the following day.
In the meantime Insol who was engaging the rebels from outside the police station tried to enter the charge room to assist the others but was shot in the back and died shortly after. Next to fall was Bujang but not before he killed two rebels.
As time passed slowly, they suddenly heard a Kadayan rebel shouting out shouting in Malay “Keluar…kami orang sudah pegang perintah…bagus kamu serah.” (Better surrender because we now have taken over the government.)
Bisop continued: “When I heard that, I was furious because they had killed PC Bujang had been killed before my eyes. I replied in Malay-Kadayan dialect saying “Kami tidak mau serah diri…kalau berani, Lawan Tia!) (We will not surrender…if you dare, let us fight to the death).
At that point only two policemen--Bisop and Sanggah were defending the outpost. “I made a pact with Sanggah and said we should defend the station with our lives. I said I would shoot him if he tried to leave his post and he agreed to shoot me if I did the same”.
At about 7 a.m. Bisop heard the voice of the Resident, R.H. Morris outside the police station pleading to the duo to give up. By then they had held out for almost five hours.
“Resident Morris called out to us at least five times but I refused to respond. He was in the hands of four to five armed rebels. After considering the possibility that the rebels would kill Morris if we did not obey, both Sanggah and I agreed to come out.
“As we were left the building in daylight, I noticed there were 16 rebels lying injured or dead near the gate of the police compound and the ground of the main entrance.
I think a number of them were hit by bullets from my machine gun.”
Among those detained at the police barracks were the officer in command of the station Inspector Latif Basah who had been wounded but later captured, Sanggah, Titun and Bisop together other policemen who had surrendered.
Sarawak Information officer Alistair Morrison in the "The Gallant story of the Defence of Limbang" described the incident:
"This is the story of heroism--Sarawak heroism--of how a handful of police held out against a violent onslaught by hundreds of rebels. It is a story that must be told to Sarawak in full.
"Shortly after 2 o'clock they opened fire on the police station, the batchelor police barracks and the house of Inspector Latip. The OCS, Inspector Latip, came out of his house firing his sterling. He was soon shot through the arm and succeeded in crawling across the road and hiding himself in the river behind the bank.
"The station and barrack room behind were occupied by nine of the 18 policemen then in Limbang.
The rebels crept quietly close to the wire fence and opened a barrage of shotgun fire while some climbed over the fence.
"Police constable Essa in the police barrack loft remained there without food or drink apart from some rain water he collected in his hand through the the billian ataps, for four days until Limbang was relieved. He kept his rifle with him all the time.
All the other members of the force were also taken prisoner, five of them in their married quarters.
“The fight put up by the police in Limbang, was a splendid example of good morale, devotion to duty, and aggressive spirit. The police never had a chance against such overwhelming numbers but they showed great bravery and tenacity in holding out to the bitter end until ordered to surrender by the Resident.
“Those who were able to take part in the actual fighting were representative cross-section of Sarawak's racial makeup. These men have written a splendid page in Sarawak's history and one which will never be forgotten."