The Early Merdeka Years: My Story by Lt Col (R) Tan Siew Soo KAT, KMN, AMT (Armour)
Tuesday, January 04, 2022
During the immediate post-Merdeka years in the 1960s, there were three events I would
categorise as milestones in our nation’s history. While I was involved in all of them, this story is
essentially about the third milestone, the involvement of the Malayan Special Force as United
Nations peacekeepers in the Congo.
Tan Siew Soo, Lt Col (R)
My relationship with our army began in January 1954 when I enrolled in the Boys Wing, Federation
Military College. Three years later in January 1957, I was among 18 ‘Budak Boys’ selected to join
the inaugural Cadet Wing Intake One as regular officer cadets. Having graduated on 13 December
1958, I was commissioned into the Federation Armoured Car Regiment (FACR) as a 2nd
Lieutenant in C Squadron FACR.
The FACR, like the Federation Regiment, was a major multiracial unit created by General Sir
Gerald Templer in 1952. A Squadron was raised in Rasah Camp, Seremban on 1 September 1952.
Although only a squadron, it was referred to as the Armoured Car Regiment. B Squadron was
added in 1957 and C Squadron in 1958.
I joined the newly formed C Squadron, which had no operational experience, so together we
earned our stripes in Kedah and Perak in 1959. Chasing the remnants of Chin Peng’s men across
the border, C Squadron FACR was deployed on border operations for seven long months from
March to October 1959. It was active service seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but every 40th
day, the soldiers were granted four days of operational leave with free railway warrants to return to
base in Kuala Lumpur to see their families.
This Squadron was based in Hobart Camp, Gurun, with one troop detached at Titi Akar in Pendang district, and another troop in support of the infantry battalion (4 Royal Malay Regiment (4RMR)) at Kroh on a one-month rotational basis. When back at Hobart Camp, we were often deployed to carry out ambush operations at likely communist terrorist tracks and ‘dead letter boxes’ — the latter were rendezvous points for communists to meet their sympathisers to collect information, mail and, sometimes, supplies.
On 1 January 1960, the Federation Regiment and the FACR were amalgamated to form the Reconnaissance Corps (Peninjau); 1 Federation Regiment became 1 Recce, and FACR became 2 Recce (later Cavalry and now Armour).
. Daimler Armoured Car No 1 Troop C Sqn FACR at Titi Akar, April 1959
From a full-blooded Cavalry, we became half-Cavalry and half-Infantry; the big Daimler Armoured Cars were discarded, retaining only our Scout Cars. However, the role and traditions of Cavalry were retained together with our smart ceremonial uniforms.The first post-Merdeka milestone for our country was the passing of the first King, DYMM SPB Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Muhammad. His face is possibly the most recognisable face in the whole country; you see it on every ringgit note you carry. He died halfway through his reign.
The Royal Funeral Procession entering Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, 02 April 1960. (The Cenotaph is now located at Tugu Negara.)
I am proud and honoured to have participated in his state funeral procession, the only one of all our monarchs conducted in the British tradition. This involved personnel of the Royal Malayan Navy towing the royal casket on the gun carriage. Right ahead of the sailors, leading the royal procession, was the Recce Sovereign Escort led by Major Zain Hashim while I was bringing up the rear. All VIPs and mourners were behind the gun carriage.
With reversed arms we marched all the way from Istana Negara on Bellamy Road to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station en route to Sri Menanti. This was also the one and only time that the sovereign escort was dismounted. I still remember it being a hot, sunny morning and beads of sweat were streaming down our foreheads and dripping onto our faces, which some in the crowd mistook for tears. Being the first royal funeral procession, the roadsides were overflowing with spectators paying their last respects.
The second milestone was the End of the Malayan Emergency parade on 30 July 1960. The Emergency, declared on 18 June 1948, officially ended on 12 July 1960, lasting a total of 12 years, three weeks and five days. According to official records, over 500 soldiers and 1,300 police personnel died during the conflict, while over 6,000 communist terrorists were estimated to have been killed, and another 12,000 surrendered or were captured.
End of Emergency Parade, 30 July 1960. My Troop passing the Saluting Dais.
The mammoth parade held on 30 July 1960 was to commemorate ‘victory’ over the Communist Party of Malaya. CPM members who got away fled to southern Thailand. This gigantic parade lasting many hours can be considered the progenitor of all subsequent Merdeka Day parades held in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. I am indeed proud to have been a participant.
Led by the Federation Army, followed by the Royal Malayan Police, including the Special Constables and the Home Guards, the Commonwealth forces were fully represented by those who had served the country fighting the communist terrorists. The many British units came in a long line, followed by the Gurkhas, the Kings African Rifles, the Fijians, the Australians and the New Zealanders. The grand finale was the fly past by our young Royal Malayan Air Force, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
A few days after the End of the Emergency Parade, my Regiment moved from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson into a brand new camp — the Sungala Barracks. We had hardly settled down when the third milestone appeared on the horizon.
The Third Milestone
On 24 August 1960, we received news that C Squadron 2 Recce was selected for UN Peacekeeping service in the Congo. Everyone was excited; perhaps I was even more excited as I was going to the exotic land of my boyhood fantasies, the land of the legendary Tarzan of the Apes in the former Belgian Congo.
Our nation was merely three years old and we were able to answer the call of the United Nations Security Council for peacekeeping duties in another newly independent country, the Congo, which had descended into chaos only days after declaring independence on 30 June 1960. The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) created a new unit called the Malayan Special Force (MSF), comprising 4 Royal Malay Regiment (4RMR) with three Rifle Corps: A, B and C. To ensure this new unit was a multiracial force, C Squadron 2 Recce with its 40 per cent non-Malay composition, was added. Additional non-Malay elements came from other multiracial units, such as the Signals Regiment Detachment. At the same time, elements of the Service Corps, Ordinance and Workshop were also added to HQ Company, called Force HQ.
The man chosen to command this Special Force was Lt Col Ungku (Bruno) Nazaruddin bin Ungku Mohamad, then the CO of 4RMR. C Squadron 2 Recce was officially designated the Recce Squadron of MSF and was commanded by Major Zain Mahmud Hashim. All assembled at Imphal Camp (located opposite Mindef) on 13 September for a fortnight of intensive training. Crowd dispersal, air portability, French lessons, were some of what we were taught. In hindsight, only learning French proved valuable for our mission.
On 28 September, all the wheeled elements of the MSF departed for RMN base at Woodlands, Singapore, to await the arrival of the two United States Navy Landing Ship Tanks (LST) to convey us to Africa. When all vehicles and heavy stores had been loaded, the two LSTs sailed on the evening of 3 October for Port Klang, and arrived there the next morning, on 4 October 1960, to pick up the main MSF.
The LST 1169 which I boarded departing Port Klang, 04 Oct 1960.
At the farewell parade at the wharf, the whole contingent was addressed by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj, followed by a fly past by our infant RMAF Single and Twin Pioneers in salutation. The port scene was simply a fantastic send-off for the sons of Malaya going for overseas service for the very first time.
Before noon, the two LSTs sailed for Africa on a most memorable 28-day voyage for the Port of Matadi, Congo, arriving on 31 October 1960. A Moroccan Guard of Honour was on hand to receive us. Col Ungku Bruno took the salute and inspection. Formalities over, unloading and loading began in earnest. Three trains were scheduled to convey the entire MSF into the capital city, Leopoldville (Kinshasa), located 365 km away. The First Train catered for all the infantry men, including the Recce Squadron Rifle Troopers. The Second Train conveyed all the Ferret Scout Cars and other vehicles while the Third Train was for B Echelon heavy vehicles and stores. It was not plain sailing.
The First Train departed Matadi at midnight, 31 October. Before reaching the city, it was derailed. By sheer good fortune, a nasty accident was averted but it caused a delay of about six hours to the Second Train, which departed some two hours later. The Third Train did not take off for another two days.
The Second Train conveyed the four young troop leaders of C Squadron. Besides myself, as No 1 Tp, there were No 2 Tp 2/Lt Philip Lee Khui Fui, No 3 Tp 2/Lt Tee Bua Bian, and No 4 Tp 2/Lt Teoh Say Chee. Of the four, three were of the same seniority but before departure from Matadi, our OC Major Zain Hashim verbally announced that I was in command of the Second Train.
Due to the derailment, the Second Train was stopped at a small Railway Halt KM236 for several hours. No one carried any rations but at Matadi Railway Station, we were each given two bottles of soda water. The KM236 location had an abundance of Congolese mangoes so it was soda water and mangoes for breakfast and lunch.
KM 236 Railway Halt, 130 km to go. A forlorn six-hour wait here.
Thankfully, the unripened mangoes were not sour.Around noon, our train continued the journey into the city. In the late afternoon, we arrived at the outskirts at Limite, a huge railway yard complex surrounded by miles of high chain-link fence. Here, we were left abandoned by the train pilot. It was the first day of a three-day port and railway strike, we would find out later. Without food and communications, it was a forlorn situation. As the one in command, I had to take the initiative.
In the distance, we could see some vehicles moving. So I asked my squad mate, Lt Teoh, to accompany me to find a way out. We walked around the chain link fence for a long while before suddenly finding a gap and crawled out to a road. We were in luck! The first vehicle that came by was a UN Ghanaian jeep. Here, the bonds of the Commonwealth showed; English was the link. We were dropped off at ONUC HQ and met my OC.
The next morning, the pilot came early to take us to the port and railway station. But just as we were about to move off, a sizeable number of striking workers gathered to prevent the pilot from taking off. In that tense situation, my OC Mej Zain Hashim ordered the few soldiers around him to cock their Sten guns to protect the pilot. The workers stood back and our train proceeded to the city. It was a big bluff because we carried no ammunition then. They were all still in boxes
The original plan for the MSF called for a three-week retraining and familiarisation period in Kinshasa before being sent to Kasai province in support of the Ghanaian Brigade. This never happened. On arrival, we were immediately given unscheduled tasks. The Rifle Company was assigned to guard many key installations and buildings besides patrolling. The city had been sectioned into various zones, and the Ferret Scout Cars created an impact everywhere we went, always drawing a curious crowd whenever we stopped.
The MSF Presentation Parade on 9 Dec 1960 at Leopoldville (Kinshasa). My No 1 Troop with me, extreme left.
The general smartness and discipline of our soldiers drew favourable comments from all quarters. The next big event was our Presentation Parade scheduled for 22 November 1960. This was postponed to 9 December 1960 (see the Finas video on the MSF in Congo).
A Close Encounter with Combat
A shooting incident between ONUC and the Congolese army on 21 November had caused the postponement. Prior to this, tensions had been building up in Kinshasa when the de facto leader of Congo, Joseph Mobutu, declared the Ghanaian ambassador persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country. However, the diplomat was defiant; he had a platoon of UN Tunisians guarding his residence. By 1600 hours, the Congolese had surrounded the place. The Tunisians had earlier increased their troops to around 200 men. Then, at 1800 hours, the Congolese brought in another five truck loads of soldiers, plus one Greyhound Armoured Car.
It is not known how the fighting started but at about 1930 hours, fireworks lit up the entire sky with tracers flying all over. This was visible from base at Camp Chanic. I was Duty Officer on 21 November, the only officer present. Besides those deployed on duty guarding installations, the majority of our officers were at the Officers Mess located about five kilometers from the camp.
MSF was under command of the Tunisian Brigade whose HQ was adjacent to our camp. Two senior Tunisian officers came to see me and wanted our Ferret Scout Car escorts. I politely told them to call my OC at the Officers Mess. They never came back. In the meantime, in response to the tense situation in Kinshasa, the whole MSF at Camp Chanic was in full battle order on standby, physically commanded by a 2nd Lieutenant.
The wild and indiscriminate shooting continued all night. Earlier in the evening, the Greyhound Armoured Car with its 37mm gun had been called into action. It fired one round aimed at the Ghanaian Residence… but hit the neighbouring house, which was the Royal Canadian Signals Officers Mess. What atrocious gunnery! The officers were having dinner when that shot smacked into the ceiling causing a total blackout. They dived for cover. That was the end of their dinner.
Me and my trusty Ferret Scout Car.
At 0700 hours the next day, a ceasefire came into effect. The wild shooting had resulted in relatively light casualties. The Tunisians and Congolese respectively suffered two and four killed in action, with many more wounded. However, the Congolese suffered the loss of their Leopoldville Garrison Commander, Colonel Nkokolo. Camp Leopold, the largest military camp in Leopoldville, was later renamed Camp Nkokolo in his honour.
Following the death of the Congolese Garrison Commander, tensions once again reached fever pitch in the city. Rumours swirled that the Congolese army wanted to take revenge on the UN by attacking ‘Le Royal’, the nine-storey HQ of ONUC. The MSF’s weakness was a lack of rocket launchers, which had all been left behind at home. HQ ONUC ordered the Indonesian KKO Battalion deployed in the northern Equator province to dispatch a Detachment of their anti-Tank Troops to be attached to our MSF. The Detachment of two Sections consisted of two officers and 4 x Jeep mounted with 4 x 75mm Recoilless anti-tank guns. They were based at our Camp Chanic and we worked seamlessly with the Indonesians as language was not a problem.
"Stand To" during first light and last light everyday at Nyunzu.
The task of defending Le Royal fell on us, the MSF. One Rifle Company, one Scout Troop (4 x Ferret), and a KKO Detachment (2 x Recoilless gun) were deployed for this purpose. We were stationed in the basement car park — not the healthiest place to be located — and were rotated every 24 hours. The Troops quickly nicknamed it ‘the Dungeon’. Unpleasant as it was, it allowed us, especially the officers, to interact with the UN civilian staff, who remarked to us how they had great confidence and faith in us and felt much safer with the Malaysians rather than others guarding the place. This boosted our morale.
The sojourn at Le Royal was uneventful save for 4 January 1961, when the second UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, paid a visit. There was a large gathering of deposed prime minister Patrice Lumumba’s supporters protesting with placards that read ‘UN go home’ and ‘Free Lumumba’ at the open ground opposite Le Royal where the helicopter ferrying Hammarskjöld was scheduled to land. All HQ had to do was send out two platoons with fixed bayonets from the basement to secure the landing ground. The crowd was kept at bay and Mr Hammarskjöld was in safe hands. We were respected by everyone alike, even the few Belgians whom I met — they had nothing but praise for MSF and ironically, nothing but contempt for the UN.
Patrice Lumumba, the iconic Prime Minister of Congo elected on 30 June 1960, was illegally dismissed by President Kasavubu on 5 September 1960. On 13 September, a coup d'etat supported by the CIA was staged by the Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Joseph Mobutu, the very man Lumumba had handpicked for the post and given the rank of Colonel. Lumumba then sought UN protection and was confined to his residence. The villa was situated by the River Congo. Initially, a Ghanaian Platoon had provided security, later replaced by the Tunisians. When we arrived in November, B Company 4 RMR No 5 Platoon commanded by 2/Lt Borhan Ahmad (later General, Tan Sri) took over guard duties. We were there to prevent Lumumba from being captured. Further up the road was a Congolese Army roadblock to prevent Lumumba from escaping.
. Entering Congo from Burundi at the border checkpoint.
On the fateful day of 27 November 1960, Lumumba and entourage staged a spectacular escape in the night on small boats on the River Congo. The convoy of three vehicles was headed for his stronghold in Stanleyville (Kisangani). Lumumba had a large following in Leopoldville but he knew his only hope of a fightback lay in Stanleyville.
His convoy got as far as near Port Francqui (Ilebo) in Kasai province before he was recaptured on 2 December after five days on the run. Flown back to Leopoldville, Lumumba and his two ex-ministers at Ndjili Airport were badly treated. They were handled roughly and paraded at the back of an army truck with hands tied behind their backs, on their way to imprisonment in Camp Hardy, Thysville (Mbanza-Ngungu).
By sheer coincidence, I had been talking with another officer near our camp entrance when the truck with Lumumba passed by. That pathetic image of Lumumba with both hands tied was the last picture of him seen alive by the world. That is etched in my mind till today. I saw the last of Lumumba at close range. I remember one of the soldiers guarding him eating an apple. With news of Lumumba’s recapture, the atmosphere in Leopoldville again became highly charged.
Some time in early January 1961, ONUC had a change of Supreme Commander. Lt Gen Sean McKeon, an Irishman, took over duties from Lt Gen Carl Van Horn. Gen McKeon was a practical man who wasted no time in visiting outlying trouble spots. At the cocktail party given by MSF in his honour, I asked him about the prospects of MSF leaving Leopoldville. According to him, there were two factors governing this: firstly, the MSF had the reputation of being friendly, smart and efficient; secondly, the reputation of being good fighters (most likely referring to the successful ending of the Malayan Emergency).
Meanwhile, at Camp Chanic, ONUC had converted one of our buildings to accept refugees. MSF became the first unit to operate a refugee camp in the history of our army. Political refugees, including former ministers of the Lumumba government, high-ranking officials, party activists, as well as family and relatives of Lumumba, sought refuge at ONUC and were channelled to our camp. The flow of refugees commenced after Lumumba’s recapture and climaxed with his death announcement.
On 17 January 1961, Lumumba was transferred to Elisabethville (Lumumbashi) from Thysville to be delivered to his arch enemy, Moise Tshombe. During the long flight from Leopoldville to Elisabethville, Lumumba and his two associates were badly beaten up. On landing at the airport in Elisabethville, he was taken to a nearby house where he was further tortured before being taken outside, tied to a tree and shot to death. The news was withheld by Katanga until 13 February when they announced that Lumumba and his two colleagues had escaped from prison and been killed by wild tribesmen. All hell broke loose in Afro-Asia and Eastern Europe.
From Leopoldville to the Kivu Province
After three months in the city, we managed to get deployed out of Leopoldville to Kivu province, the smallest in the country but the most beautiful in eastern Congo. We took over from the Nigerians at Goma. The 5th Battalion Queen’s Own Nigerian Rifle (5QONR) was commanded by Lt Col Johnson Ironsi; he would become the first president of Nigeria in 1966.
The first buildup of our MSF at Goma began on 4 February 1961. MSF Tac HQ, one Rifle Company, Squadron HQ and one Scout Troop began loading at night. The loading was chiefly a self-help job with our own drivers operating the forklift. The initial air fleet at our disposal consisted of 3 x DC4 and 3 x C119 aircraft. This modus operandi went on for several weeks. Loading would commence after midnight. At the crack of dawn, the first aircraft took off.
At 0300 hours on 16 February, I personally escorted Lumumba’s family — his wife, Pauline, and their children — and others from Camp Chanic to Ndjili airport, to be flown back to safety in Stanleyville (Kisangani) by UN aircraft. Pauline Lumumba was by then clean shaven, a local customary sign of mourning.
The event that triggered our sudden departure from Leopoldville to Goma was the Congolese ambush of a Nigerian platoon in Kindu on 3 February 1961. A fierce battle followed between the Nigerian Company based in Kindu and the Congolese army. Having handed over to us in Goma, 5QONR was scheduled to be sent to Kindu to reinforce the Nigerian Company. Kindu Port Empain was a strategic location, with a river port, a rail head and an airport. It was the capital of Maneima district in western Kivu.
At Dar-es-Salaam awaiting boarding. Photo taken on 16 July 1961, with 2/Lt Borhan Ahmad.
The unexpected change of plans saw MSF being deployed in Kindu instead. A small Rear Party was left behind at Goma. The main force was flown into Kindu. The first wave, comprising Tac HQ and a Rifle Company, could not land at the first attempt due to the runway being blocked by 44-gallon drums. The third attempt proved successful. Once the airhead was established, we rushed in two Scout Troops of Ferret Scout Cars. Those Ferrets had a great demoralising effect on the Congolese soldiers among whom they inspired fear and commanded great respect.
The build-up at Kindu continued and reached a climax by mid-March 1961. The biggest task performed at Kindu was the rescue and protection of civilians, in particular the European population who were victims of cruel beatings and rape by the Congolese troops. Prior to our arrival, they — in particular the missionaries — were experiencing living in hell. Now they came streaming by the hundreds as refugees for homeward repatriation through MSF. Many were plucked from their missions by our patrols and brought into town.
Having pacified and stabilised Kindu town and the nearby surrounding areas, we worked progressively outwards by conducting Long Range Patrols. One very interesting Long Range Patrol occurred on 19 March 1961. On that morning, we had received a report that an illegal fanatic sect of the Balubakat cartel — also known as the Leopardmen — was terrorising the population of Kasongo, a town located over 200 km southeast of Kindu.
A mounted column was quickly assembled consisting of Tac HQ, one Rifle Company, Squadron HQ and one Scout Troop. Also included in this patrol was a most interesting personality. It was a phenomenon that Elaine Shepherd, an American freelance correspondent, succeeded in talking her way into the heart of Africa, arriving in Kindu on 17 March 1961.
She became the first woman journalist to set foot in the Congo since the post-Independence troubles erupted. The Kasongo Long Range operation is best summed up in her own words:
…Colonel Nazaruddin accompanied by Major Zain Hashim went to greet their leader when they appeared at the edge of the Malayan camp at dusk. I watched them shake hands with the Leopardmen who blew a whistle. Out of the darkness came 34 Africans. All were armed to the teeth with bow and barbed arrows, clubs and a strange, lethal-looking weapon made with a leopard’s claw, each finger of the claw a curled knife blade, honed to razor sharpness.
Col Nazaruddin stepped calmly into their midst and handed each of them a cigarette. This pleases them but they never dropped their weapons, although some of their suspicion began to disappear. The Leopardmen were hungry and were immediately won over when the Malayans fed them. Later, the Malayans succeeded in tactfully disarming the Leopardmen of some of their weapons by buying the bows and poisonous arrows.
Some time during April, ONUC decided there should be a UN presence at Nyunzu, a strategic town located about half way between Kabalo and Albertville (Kalemie) in northern Katanga. ONUC had an Ethiopian battalion at Kabalo, and an Irish battalion at Kalemie with nothing in between. This was not a straightforward or routine move. Earlier, President Tshombe of Katanga had announced to the world that he did not want any UN troops in Nyunzu and any entry into Nyunzu would be resisted by force.
Leaving D Company 4RMR behind at Kindu, the battle group for this mission comprising Tac HQ, A, B, and C Company 4RMR plus C Squadron 2 Recce, began the long journey to Kabalo of a few days. This battle group was prepared to fight its way into Nyunzu. (For details, read “The Looming Battle of Nyunzu”.)
On 17 May, 4RMR and C Squadron 2 Recce departed Nyunzu for Kalemie after handing over duties to the advance party of the Indian brigade.
The Last Leg
Albertville, now called Kalemie, located on the western shores of the African Great Lake Tanganyika, became the base for 4RMR until departure from home on 18 July. However, C Squadron 2 Recce bid adieu to 4RMR and departed Kalemie for Bukavu on 17 June by a unique form of transportation, voyaging on Lake Tanganyika for two days and one night before arriving at Bujumbura in Burundi, stopping for a night and driving up the next morning to Bukavu on the splendid Burundi mountainous road.
Three days later on 24 June, the officers flew back to Kalemie for the Congo medal presentation cum farewell parade. This original group of MSF was the only group of MSF (officers only) that was privileged to receive the Congo medal personally from the Supreme Commander. Excerpts from General McKeon’s speech sum up our performance:
… You have been given many difficult assignments since your arrival in November last year. These tasks have been performed in a magnificent manner. It has been a pleasure to deal with you and to see the readiness with which orders were accepted and carried out efficiently. You have every right to return to Malaya, proud in the knowledge that you have given a good account of yourselves. I hope your people, your army and your country will come to know fully of the very fine record you have gained for yourselves here in the cause of peace in the Congo and indeed peace in the world as a whole…
That night, 4RMR gave a most extravagant, fabulous farewell party dubbed ‘Malaya Night’. It was certainly the biggest social event post-Independence in Kalemie.
My stay at Bukavu was very brief. Just over a week later, we were ordered to rejoin my regiment at Goma. My regiment, 2 Recce, had arrived together with HQ Brigade MSFin April 1961 as reinforcements to ONUC forces in the Congo. After the death of Lumumba was announced, some countries protested and withdrew their contingents. The UN Secretary-General appealed for more troops to replace them. Malaya was one country that responded to his call.
As part of the original MSF, my squadron had been away from the country for over ten months. On 15 July 1961, we bade farewell to Goma and flew by DC 4 to Dar-es-Salaam via Entebbe on our first leg home. 4RMR took off from Kalemie and 'marry up' with C Squadron in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The ship that took us home, the troopship USNS General Blachford, was five-star compared with the LSTs we had arrived in. The voyage lasted only ten short days.
On 30 July 1961, the original MSF disembarked at Port Klang and boarded a special train to Kuala Lumpur. The journey from Port Klang to Kuala Lumpur was surreal, truly fantastic. On both sides of the rail tracks, people emerged from their homes to wave at us. It was one super duper continuous friendly wave of hands throughout the forty kilometre route to welcome us home. This spontaneous gesture touched the hearts of everyone on the train. To me, if ever there was such a thing as a reward for soldiering, this was it.
At Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, thousands of well wishers jammed the platforms to welcome us with placards. My mind quickly flashed back to the early Leopoldville days when we faced hostile demonstrators. After the welcome home address by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein, we dispersed.
C Squadron headed home to Port Dickson and 4RMR returned to Mentakab. I had the honour to serve my country twice in the Congo. The First Tour was from September 1960 to July 1961, and the Second Tour from June 1962 to April 1963. The Congo service remains the best experience of my military career. Ask any Congo veteran and you will get the same answer. During General Ungku Nazaruddin’s farewell visit to my unit, I asked him what the most memorable experience was in his distinguished career.
The Dass legacy: Soldiering on By Adrian David - June 14, 2021 @ 12:43pm
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Flying Officer (Rtd) David Samuel Dass in his Royal Air Force uniform
during War War I. - Pic courtesy of Brig-Gen Dr Alexander Amaradran Dass
From the New Straits Times : KUALA LUMPUR: "No one is a man, until he has been a soldier." This is one adage the Dass family firmly believes in - for four of
them have collectively clocked an impressive 110 years of service for
Their foray with the armed forces began with their patriarch - Flying
Officer (Rtd) David Samuel Dass who had served with Britain's Royal Air
Force (RAF) during World War I . Then, David's son Warrant Officer II (Rtd) William David Dass continued the family's tradition with the Malaysian Army.
In later years, William's sons Maritime First-Admiral (Rtd)
Christopher Ravindran Dass and Brigadier-General Dr Alexander Amaradran
Dass donned the uniform. Dr Alexander, who is due to retire on May 4 next year upon reaching
60, was promoted to a 'one-star' general recently and is serving as the
maxillofacial surgeon and department head at the 94th Armed Forces
Hospital at Terendak Camp in Malacca.
Warrant Officer II (Rtd) William David Dass flanked by his sons Capt
Christopher Ravindran Dass (right) and Colonel Dr Alexander Amaradran
Dass after laying a wreath on Warrior’s Day at the cenotaph in Penang in
2011. - Pic courtesy of Brig-Gen Dr Alexander Amaradran Dass
He is just among a handful of medical specialists in the discipline with the Armed Forces. Dr Alexander told The New Straits Times that it was the wishes of his
grandfather David to have at least one 'son' in each generation of
their family, to serve with the armed forces. "There was no force and we took it upon ourselves to put our foot
forward, when the nation really needed able-bodied youths during the
difficult and trying years," said Dr Alexander, who hopes his nephews or
grandchildren would continue with the tradition.
Recalling David's service, Dr Alexander said his grandfather had
served with the RAF's 63rd Squadron as an officer from 1916 to 1920. "He saw action in the Mediterranean and against the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia (Iraq). "His foray earned him the British WW I 'Victory Medal' and a 'British War Medal'.
"David opted out of service after his stint with the RAF and went
into business, before moving to Malaya in 1930," said Dr Alexander, who
is married to Khasturi Bhai Muniswaran, a former CIMB banking executive. William had joined the Police Volunteer Reserve as a 16-year-old.
In 1954, he became a Junior Civil Liaison Officer (JCLO) and was
posted with the First battalion Royal Malay Regiment based at the
Lintang Camp in Sungai Siput, Perak. "He was tasked with gathering information on the movement of the Communist Party of Malaya's (CPM) movement in the area. "Dad often related to me his encounters with the CPM terrorists deep in the jungles of Malaya.
"Among his tales were how he had to sleep with the bodies of his dead
comrades, until they were safely retrieved to be given a burial with
honours," said Dr Alexander. In 1955, William was among those from the Royal Armour Regiment who
were deployed during the 'Baling Talks' in Kedah, between the Malayan
government and CPM leader Chin Peng.
During the First Emergency period of 1948-1960, William was tasked
with tracking down and monitoring the movements of another CPM leader,
C.T. Perumal. In 1962, William was chosen to serve under the United Nations peace-keeping mission in Bukavu, Congo. In 1970, William also served as the chief staff assistant to the
Malaysian defence adviser at the high commission in London, Britain.
He retired as a Warrant Officer II, after 29 years of service in 1980. Dr Alexander said his elder brother Christopher had initially joined
the Royal Malaysian Navy in 1980 and rose to become a commander.
Warrant Officer II (Rtd) William David Dass (second from left) with his
fellow comrades and British expatriate children in Congo in 1962. - Pic
courtesy of Brig-Gen Dr Alexander Amaradran Dass
"In 2005, he was among the pioneer batch of officers and men in the
newly established Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), starting
off as a captain.
"He went on to serve as commandant of the MMEA Academy in Kuantan,
Pahang before retiring in 2019 after almost 40 years of service," said
Dr Alexander, who had completed Form Five at the Penang Free School in
A few years later, he earned a Public Service Department scholarship
to pursue a bachelor of dental surgery degree at the University of
Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. He was cited on the Dean's list and was the first Malaysian to win a
gold medal there, for his excellent results upon graduation in 1991.
Upon his return, Dr Alexander was seconded to the Ministry of Health
and served at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for
about two years. "In 1993, I chanced upon the opportunity to serve with the Armed Forces Royal Medical Corps as a dental officer. "I accepted a commission as a captain and was duly posted to the 2nd
Battalion Royal Ranger Regiment at the Tambun Camp in Ipoh, Perak," he
Five years later, he attended a staff officer's course in Port
Dickson, Negri Sembilan and won the commandant's prize for his thesis on
total quality management. "In 2000, I was offered to purse a four-year post-graduate degree in
oral maxillofacial surgery at University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
"In late 2005, I was the facial trauma surgeon with the Armed Forces
team despatched on a humanitarian mission to the earthquake mission in
Battagram, Pakistan," he said. In 2009, he was the Malaysian Medical Commander (MMU-7) with the
United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Minurso),
tasked with assisting and treating military observers and land mine
"Part of my job entailed me to undergo an airborne course to complete
the compulsory eight static-fall parachute jumps off an aeroplane. "With Terendak Camp as the home of the Army's 10th Para Brigade, my
14 years there helped me to better understand the stress and strain of
the soldiers," said Dr Alexander, who earned the unique maroon beret
worn by elite commandos who are a key element of the Armed Forces' Rapid
He added that to earn the maroon beret, he had to undergo a myriad of
strenuous exercises and trainings for about two solid months. "These included the 'Pegasus' survival exercises which were tough ordeals both in the jungles and at sea. "My first airborne jump over 2,000 feet in 2007 was truly an
exhilarating experience, as I managed to avoid hitting the ground like a
sack of potatoes," he said.
Dr Alexander was also exposed to joint military exercises with
Indonesia, Australia and the United States' armed forces, apart from the
regular combat exercises with the 10th Para Brigade. "Having the opportunity to train with foreign armies was always a
unique experience as it allowed me to share and exchange knowledge with
Brigadier-General Dr Alexander Amaradran Dass with his wife Khasturi
Bhai Muniswaran. - Pic courtesy of Brig-Gen Dr Alexander Amaradran Dass
"It also certainly strengthened our camaraderie," said Dr Alexander,
who has special interests in dental implantology, laser and facial
trauma. Owing to his vast experience, Dr Alexander was roped in to initiate
diploma courses for dental staff assistants at the Armed Forces Medical
Institute in Malacca, as well as ensuring that the 94th Terendak
Hospital was of an international-class medical facility to adequately
for soldiers. He paid tribute to the gallant officers and men of the Armed Forces who toiled to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation.
To improve his communication and leadership skills, Dr Alexander is actively involved in Toastmasters International. "I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to the Armed Forces leadership
for their confidence and trust in me to fulfil my responsibilities as a
doctor and an officer.
"I am privileged and fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to further my studies and career. I have no regrets donning the uniform as it had provided abundant opportunities
and possibilities to advance myself.
I realise that this country of
ours is a land of prosperity and generosity, of strength and unity, of opportunity and work," he said.
Make no mistake, the Kindu massacre or incident was a day of ignomy and infamy for the Malayan Special Force, our army, and the country. The responsibility fell squarely on Maj David Daud Yassin, OC B Company 6 RMR, the designated Kindu Garrison Commander.
I first met Captain David Daud in September 1960, a graduate of RMA Sandhurst, he was a flamboyant person driving a MGA sports car when he visited us at the Government Mess A chalet (now Wisma LTAT) where we stayed prior to departure for the Congo.
A brief background. The Congo during that period was basically divided into three factions: (1) Mobotu's faction (pro-West), the central government, occupied slightly more than a third of the western portion of the country; (ii) Gizenga's faction (left-leaning) occupied roughly another third in the eastern Congo, and (iii) Tshumbe's faction (pro-West business), occupied less than a third, the southern part of Congo.
Kindu was strategic with a port, rail and airhead in Gizenga's eastern Congo. It was first occupied by a company of Nigerian (5QONR) ONUC troops. One day, a Nigerian platoon was ambushed by the Congolese near their Officers' Mess. The officer, a Lt Ben, a Sandhurst graduate was known to some of our officers, was killed, with many wounded.
The Nigerian Officers' Mess was a nice villa located on the road from the airport to Kindu town. After that ambush, the Nigerian contingent withdrew and was replaced by the Malayan Special Force (4RMR plus C Sqn 2 Recce) in March 1961. When we took over that Officers' Mess was rejected outright by our CO, Lt Col Ungku Nazaruddin simply because it was indefensible.
We opted to live in tents by the airport. Four months later in July 1961, B Company 6 RMR arrived to take over from D Company 4 RMR. Major David Daud, who led B Company 6 RMR, chose that empty villa as his Officers' Mess. The battle group of 4 RMR and C Squadron 2 Recce had already moved south into Nyunzu, then to Albertville (Kalemie) in northern Katanga.
In October 1961, the balance of A Squadron 2 Recce commanded by the Squadron 2 I/C Captain Maurice Lam, arrived at Kindu from Stanleyville, the stronghold of the Gizenge faction. Lam had discreetly kept a Ferret at the garage behind the Officers' Mess out of view from the road. A Squadron 2 Recce was the most overstretched unit in the Congo, one troop and tactical SHQ in Elisabethville, half troop in Kamina and the remainder now in Kindu.
On 11 November 1961, two Italian Air Force C119 arrived at Kamina to airlift two Ferrets under Sam Low that were stranded since 13 September, into Kindu. They arrived around noon on that Saturday. After unloading the Ferrets, the 13 Italian air crew were ready to fly back to Leopoldville. Their last words to A Squadron were whether they had anything to be sent to Leopoldville.
Then Major David Daud arrived and invited them for lunch at the Officers' Mess. During this period, there were big movements of Congolese troops belonging to the Gizenga faction, passing through Kindu, en route to Stanleyville. They had gone south to attack Kongolo, a strong Tshombe garrison town. Instead of defeating the Katangese, they were soundly trounced by the Katangese led by white mercenaries.
Imagine the low morale state of this rag-tag rebellious army. It was during this lunch when part of this group of Congolese soldiers passing by in front of the Officers' Mess, saw the Italians and accused them of being Belgians (Note: in the Katangese army, there were many Belgian officers) and demanded for them to be handed over. When the commotion started, Captain Lam signalled Sam Low and Neville Siebel to take out the hidden Ferret.
With Sam driving, and Neville commanding, the sight of the Ferret appearing out of no where stunned the Congolese. A decisive command decision by Major Daud could have saved the Italians but he ordered Neville to go to the airport. Once the Ferret disappeared, the Congolese stormed into the Officers' Mess. They assaulted the Italians, captured some weapons from our guard section and looted the Officers' Mess.
Neville could not accept the situation and he came back with four of his own troop's Ferret armoured cars. At this juncture, the situation could still be saved. Most of the Italians who were badly beaten up were being taken to the Congolese trucks. What was the action of Major Daud? He came in front of Neville's Ferret and shouted "Don't shoot!", and once more ordered them to return to the airport. The fate of the 13 Italians was sealed.
In his annual report, the ONUC Supreme Commander stated that their "enquiries into the... tragic events at Kindu" was not the fault of the MSF. Nevertheless, the Kindu massacre of the 13 Italians remains a blot on the history of the MSF, the army and the country. Fourteen months later, it was still in the mind of our senior most officer, Major General Tunku Osman Jewa. As Brigadier of the Army, he first visited MSF in Leopoldville on 16 January 1961.
On 15 January 1963, on his last visit, he addressed all officers of 2 RMR and C Squadron 2 Recce at the Bukavu Officers' Mess. 2 RMR A Company and B Company, together with C Squadron 2 Recce, were getting ready to mount a major operation on 17 January 1963 in Kongolo to round up all Katangese soldiers. In his pep talk, and I remember this distinctly, the General said, "If any one of them were to go against Major Daud, I would give him all the medals I could get." That sums up the big frustration of the Kindu incident.
The following awards were bestowed: Captain MSC Lam, the PGB 2/Lt Neville Siebel, the PGB 2/Lt Sam Low Tang Yeow, the KPK (mentioned in dispatch) WO2 Wong Swee Choon, the KPK
"Most Disgraceful Episode Of The Malaysian Armed Forces"
ViaWhatsApp : The two Italian Air Force C119 Flying Boxcar, which had a total crew of 13 was commanded by a Major. On that fateful day they were tasked to ferry two Ferret Scout Cars from Kamina Air Base into Kindu Airport.
The two Ferrets belonged to 2/Lt Sam Low Tung Yeow, No 2 Tp, A Sqn 2 Recce that were left stranded at Kamina since 13 September 1961. Recall the First Katanga Secession War between ONUC and Katanga that erupted on 13 September 1961. When hostilities broke out ONUC ordered A Sqn 2 Recce to reinforce UN Forces in Elisabethville. Only No 3 Tp and a small tac SHQ managed to land. The next reinforcement was No 2 Tp belonging to 2/Lt Sam Low. However, it failed to land due to heavy fighting. Both C119 were diverted to Kamina Air Base in Central Katanga.
A Sqn 2 Recce then had the dubious distinction of the most overstretched subunit ever in the Army. The locations: Tac SHQ with No 3 Tp in Elisabethville, half No 2 Tp in Kamina while the remainder of the Sqn (who had newly arrived from Bukavu) was in Leopoldville separated by over one thousand six hundred kilometres. Towards the end of September, the balance of A Sqn 2 Recce in Leopoldville under the command of the Sqn 2i/c Cap Maurice Lam was ordered to move to Stanleyville (Kisangani), Congo's third city due to a rumoured impending rebellion by the Deputy Prime Minister, Antoine Gizenga. Travelling by river boat up the Congo took the Sqn a few days to cover a distance of over one thousand miles.
To recapt, the Officers situation of A Sqn then was: OC Maj Lekhbir Singh with No 3 Tp, 2 Lt Abd Rahman Dato Hussein in Elisabethville, Sam Low in Kamina, Capt Maurice Lam with No 1 Tp, 2 Lt Neville Siebel, and No 4 Tp, 2 Lt Michael Chong now in Stanleyville. During the later part of October 1961, the remainder of the A Sqn, was again ordered to move, this time to join B Coy 6RMR in Kindu. They arrived in Kindu towards the end of October 1961.
B Coy 6RMR was commanded by Maj David Daud Yassin. Some people confuse him with David Daud Abu Bakar (Lt Gen Dato). Both were Sandhurst graduates, Daud Yassin was the more senior at RMAS. Designated the Kindu Garrison Commander, Maj David Daud had taken over Kindu on arrival in July 1961 from D Coy 4RMR. Dad's fatal error was occupying that Villa located about a mile up the road from the airport to Kindu Town. It was vacant, left abandoned by the Nigerian Coy since March 1961 after one Nigerian Platoon was ambushed by Congolese troops.
The consequence of that ambush was the replacement of the Nigerians by the original Malayan Special Force made up of 4RMR and C Sqn 2 Recce commanded by Lt Col Bruno Ungku Nazaruddin. However, when B Coy 6RMR arrived in Kindu in July 1961, only D Coy 4RMR was left in Kindu. The rest of the MSF were already in Albertville (Kalemie) and Goma on the last lap homeward bound. It is pertinent to recall that the villa was rejected outright as our Offcers' Mess by Col Ungku Bruno who had the whole force deployed under tentage by the airport. If Maj Daud had followed his predecessor, the 13 Italians could have been saved.
The Massacre was indeed the most tragic and saddest episode in the annals of the ONUC Malaysian Force. After safely delivering the two Ferret Scout Cars at Kindu, the Italians were ready to fly back to base. Their last words to A Sqn were whether they had any mail for Leopoldville. Just then Maj Daud arrived and invited them to the Officers' Mess for lunch. The Italians had wanted to go back into the aircraft to collect their side arms but ironically told by Maj Daud, it was not necessary.
So they jumped into Daud's and another Land Rover for the Officers' Mess and to their most tragic deaths. While they were being dragged away from the Mess, some pleaded "Malaya help!", but to no avail. The doctor among the crew tried to escape by jumping out of the window. He was instantly bayonetted and shot to death.
In Rome, there were heated debates in the Italian Parliament on the Massacre. Outside Parliament, noisy demonstrators demanded why the Malaysians did not help their Italian colleagues. After the Kindu debacle, the Malaysians were withdrawn from Kindu and replaced by Ethiopians. There was talk of a General Court Martial but it did not materialise. Maj Daud Yassin was dishonourable discharged and his Kings Commission withdrawn.
Postscript: The are two monuments built in Italy to commemorate the Kindu Massacre. One outside Roma Airport, the other at Pisa, the home base of the Italian Air Force.
A sharp gunner and writer By Adrian David - October 12, 2021 @ 3:40pm
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
RMAF flight-sergeant (Rtd) Peter Floriano Nunis (seated) with wife Marie
Antoniette Rodrigues, son Darren Jason and daughters Joanne (standing,
right) and Jean Marie at their home in Bandar Baru Sri Manjung,
Sitiawan, Perak. -Pic courtesy of family of Peter Nunis
New Straits Times KUALA LUMPUR: He kept a sharp eye on enemy gunfire, deep in the jungles of Malaya at the height of the communist insurgency.
And many a time, he and his aircrew put their lives on line as they
escorted other aircraft dropping supplies, mobilizing troops or rescuing
But former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) air-quartermaster and
retired flight-sergeant Peter Floriano Nunis did not flinch and inch,
despite being shot upon by communist terrorists.
Nunis had served as an Alouette III helicopter gunner during his
prime, including during the Confrontation with Indonesia (when
Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia in 1963).
After retirement, Nunis was equally sharp with his pen, serving the
New Straits Times as a stringer (freelance journalist) for a good many
years, covering military affairs and social news from 1991 to 2013.
Sadly, the gritty Nunis succumbed to a heart attack and died at about
noon at the Sitiawan Hospital in Perak on Monday. He was 79.
His son Darren Jason, 47, said his father's wake was being held today
(Tuesday) at their residence in Bandar Baru Sri Manjung, Sitiawan.
Nunis' funeral is tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Pundut crematorium in Sitiawan.
Besides Jason, Nunis leaves behind wife Marie Antoniette Rodrigues and daughters Joanne, 44, and Jean Marie, 40.
Jason said Nunis had initially joined Britain's Royal Air Force in 1961 and served until 1966.
"He was trained at the RAF station in Seletar, Singapore as an
aero-engine tradesman before being posted to the aircraft servicing
flight at RAF Changi, Singapore.
"With the Malaysianisation of our armed forces, my father then joined
the RMAF in 1967 and moved on to become an air-quartermaster (AQM),
until his retirement in 1984," said Darren.
He recounted how Nunis had scored his first and only front page lead
in the NST in the 1999, reporting on a Colombian couple – Pedro Mejia
and his wife - who survived 'the bends' (decompression sickness) after a
diving trip off Thailand.
"He loved to write and had a passion to contribute numerous social and military affair stories for the newspaper.
"He had, after retiring from the RMAF, worked with a Q-Lin Sdn Bhd which was a naval spares parts supplier in Lumut, Perak.
"He used his good contacts in the defence industry and wrote
extensively on naval and military affairs for the NST," said Darren.
Meanwhile, former RMAF assistant chief of staff (development and
planning) Major-Gen (Rtd) Datuk Che Yahya Idris was full of praise for
the late Nunis.
"I salute him and am very sad on his demise.
"Together, we flew at least a 100 operational sorties in front-line jungle operations.
"He was a very good AQM, who was well prepared, up-to-date and reliable.
"I remember one occasion when our Alouette was under heavy gunfire by communist terrorists, during a mission.
"We received a radio call from our troops on the ground to abort the mission and return later.
"It probably saved our lives," said Che Yahya, who retired in 2011 after 40 years with the RMAF.
He said they last spoke in June 2019 during a grand reunion for RMAF helicopter pilots in Labuan, Sabah.
Retired Armed Forces Health Services Division director-general
Major-Gen (Rtd) Datuk Pahlawan Dr R. Mohanadas also spoke credibly of
Nunis, whom he described as a prolific writer for the NST.
"He was a good friend when I was serving at the Royal Malaysian Navy hospital in Lumut, where we often met.
"Nunis was deft at writing many memorable stories of the navy and the
hospital, as well as other happenings around the region," said
He added that Nunis was a familiar figure at the RMN base in Lumut.
"Being an ex-serviceman, he was familiar with military protocol and
traditions, and hence got along getting his stories with ease for the
"He mixed well with all ranks and was always present in base
activities, big or small, and reported well and timely," said Dr
He recalled when soon after the RMN's hospital had its first
hyperbaric chamber installed, there was a Colombian couple who had gone
diving off Thailand.
"The woman diver developed 'the bends' and was referred to be treated at the RMN naval hospital in Lumut.
"She recovered well and flew back safely to Colombia. "Nunis' story
of her experience became a headline news for the NST in 1999," said Dr
Nunis brother-in-law and former NST Perak bureau chief, Jerry Francis
said the former was given a last respect by veterans and friends that
befitted a true Malaysian patriot.
In the annals of the Malaysian Military History no one person was more decorated than Kanang anak Langkau of the Ranger Corps. He is one of the very few survivors ever conferred the "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa" whilst still alive and a "Pingat Gagah Berani". No other person has ever received two gallantry awards in the history of the Malaysian Armed Forces. No other Corps can boast of a warrior of his stature but the Ranger Corps. In an operation in the Korbu Forest Reserve at Fort Legap on the 1st June 1979 whilst on a mission tracking the enemy, Sgt Kanang's group came across a temporary enemy resting camp. Sergeant Kanag ak Langkau from the 8th Battalion Royal Rangers immediatedly launched an attack on that enemy camp, an enemy that far outnumbered Kanang's group. In this fierce contact with the enemy, two of the Rangers went down, mortally wounded. Five of the enemy were killed, enemy equipment too were captured. He was conferred the highest gallantry award, the "Pingat Gagah Berani" by his Majesty the King. In another operation, which was a follow up on an enemy ambush on a section of soldiers from the 20th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment at Ladang Kinding, Sungei Siput, Perak, 8th Battalion Royal Rangers was tasked to conduct the follow up. One of the follow up groups was commanded by Sergeant Kanang ak Langkau. Sergeant Kanang who was a skilled tracker managed to track down the enemy. He made contact with the enemy, several of his soldiers were wounded. Even after experiencing casualties, his morale and the indomitable fighting spirit of the Ranger Corps within him remained high. . 901378 Sarjan Kanang Anak Langkau was leading the Unit Combat Intelligence Platoon of 8th Battalion Royal Rangers(now known as 8th Paras). This platoon was tasked to track down and destroy a group of communist terrorists who were present in the operational area. Who awhile ago shot dead one soldier in the Tanah Hitam area of Perak on the 8th February 1980. The tracking skills and his courage led him successfully to followup on the enemy. The lay of the land at that time was an obstacle as they were in very difficult terrain. The enemy was cunning and skillfull in the use of the ground to their advantage. They were very adept at concealment, with the years piled on fighting the British and the Malaysians. The tactics used by the enemy to throw off Kanang and his group off their trail was never ending. Due to the courage of Kanang and his tracking skills the Rangers managed to keep up with the enemy.Even as some of his men were disheartened, he kept their morale up by encoraging them. This dogged pursuit and tracking of the enemy took 11 days ! Since the death of the soldier 11 days he managed to doggedly track and identify the enemy's exact route of escape. On the evening of 19th February 1980 at around 1500 hours in the afternoon, after conducting a recconnaisance with great caution and care, his platoon mananged to estimate the location of the enemy, which was located not very far from their location. Actually they were inside the location of the enemy, as they were at the foot of the hill. They only realised that they were inside the enemy's location when they found a communictions cord from the enemy sentry's location. This cord was running from the sentry's location to the enemy's main force. This cord is normally attached to a small bush or empty cans which make noise when pulled. This way the main force can be alerted by the sentry when an enemy approaches. At that moment Sergeant Kanang was approximately 8 meters from the enemy sentry's location. Realising that, he launched the assault towards the right by firing towards the right of the enemy along with his platoon. After lauching the attack to the right, it suddenly struck everyone that the enemy's main force was on the left, below the slope of the hill. Without losing his senses, he switched the direction of fire to the left, at the same time changing the direction of the assault to the left. They ploughed into the enemy, a large force of the enemy managed to escape. The platoon and Kanang on that day managed to bag five Communist Terrorists on that day. Even with that success, they were saddened by the loss of one of their group who was killed and one more seriously wounded.Whilst trying to rescue his wounded friends, Sergeant Kanang himself was repeatedly shot, he took three rounds from the enemy into his body. The will to live and fight another day was strong, he recuperated and was back on active duty. Kanang anak Langkau following the highest fighting traditions of the Ranger Corps was conferred the "Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa" for valour in decimating the enemy on the 3rd June 1981 by his Majesty the King. Sergeant Kanang was from Simanggang, Sarawak. He joined the service with the the Sarawak Rangers as an Iban Tracker on the 21 April 1962. He was absorbed into the Malaysian Rangers when Malaysia was proclaimed on the 16th September 1963. He left the service after 21 years of service as a Warrant Officer 1.
His full citation in The London Gazette reads:
Iban Tracker, Johore, Federation of Malaya.
During operations against the bandits in Malaya a section of a platoon of the Worcestersbire Regiment was ambushed by about 50 of the enemy. The leading scout was killed instantly and the Section Commander fatally wounded.
Awang anak Rawang was hit through the thigh bone and at the same time a soldier, moving behind him, was hit below the knee, the bullet completely shattering the bone. Awang anak Rawang, although wounded and lying exposed under heavy rifle and automatic fire, collected his own weapons and that of the soldier and dragged him into the cover of the jungle. In view of the impending bandit attack Awang, completely disregarding his own wound, took up a position to defend the injured man.
There he remained, firing on every attempt made by the bandits to approach, and successfully drove off several attacks. Ultimately Awang was again wounded, the bullet shattering his right arm and rendering further use of his rifle or parang impossible. Despite loss of blood from his undressed wounds, be dragged himself over to the wounded soldier and took a grenade from the man’s pouch.
He resumed his position on guard, pulled out the pin of the grenade with his teeth and with the missile in his left band defied the bandits to approach. So resolute was his demeanour that the bandits, who had maintained their attacks for some forty minutes, and who were now threatened by the other sections, withdrew.The coolness, fortitude and offensive spirit displayed by Awang anak Rawang were of the highest order.
Despite being twice severely wounded he showed the utmost courage and resolution to continue the fight and protect the injured soldier.
Worcestershire Regimental History records the following action:
On 26th May 1951, 12 Platoon, “D” Company (2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, R.A.O.C. att. 1 Worc. R.) were encamped in some rubber on Ulu Paloh Estate, three miles West of Niyor. At about 1530 hours one of the platoon sentries was fired on by a party of eight terrorists.
The sentry returned the fire and the terrorists withdrew in a North-Westerly direction. The Platoon Commander then took two sections in pursuit of the terrorists, but after making a wide circling movement through the jungle could find no trace of the enemy and returned to base.
The following morning (27th May) the Platoon Commander, with two sections, set out once more in search of the enemy.
They moved due West into the jungle and followed a narrow track, which had jungle on the left and felled jungle on the high ground to the right. The track was used by woodcutters who were engaged in cutting the jungle further back.
Having moved about a quarter of a mile into the jungle, the leading section came under very heavy automatic fire from the front and left flank. The patrol went to ground and returned the fire.
In the first few minutes Private Dykes, the leading scout, was killed. The section commander (Corporal Stanton), two more privates (Hughes and Payne), and the Iban tracker (Awang anak Rawang), were wounded. The Platoon Commander shouted several times to Corporal Stanton to withdraw his section, but he received no reply. 2/Lieut. Morris then moved back and deployed the rear section to the left; they then engaged the terrorists as best they could. 2/Lieut. Morris moved forward again to investigate the state of the leading section. During this time he fired two complete magazines from his carbine.
The Platoon Commander was killed shortly afterwards, but the Platoon fought on for about forty minutes, when the terrorists withdrew.
The sound of the firing had been heard back at the Company base, and the Company Commander, with two platoons, moved out and arrived at the scene of the action about an hour later.
During the action Private Hughes fell wounded in the middle of the track, and Awang anak Rawang, the Iban tracker, although wounded himself and lying in an exposed position, dragged Private Hughes under cover of a fallen tree.
From behind the tree Awang defended Hughes and continued to engage the terrorists when they tried to approach. For his gallantry Awang anak Rawang was subsequently awarded the George Cross. He was the first, and at the time of writing the only, Iban tracker to receive such an honour.
The casualties in the action were 2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, Corporal B. Stanton and Private N. Dykes killed, and the wounded were Private G. Hughes, Private N. Payne and the Iban.
The enemy lost three killed, including Lap Kwang, the company commander and a terrorist leader of repute. The terrorists numbered about fifty and were later identified as 3 Platoon and 7 Platoon, 4 Company, of the 9th Regiment. The two sections of 12 Platoon had a total strength of between fifteen and twenty. That's the spirit of the Rangers who evolved from the Iban Scout-BM.
There were long range fighting patrols, where their fatigues virtually rotted on their bodies, as they spent day in day out in the swamps hunting down the killers. Everyone in Seventh Rangers wanted to very much close up with the enemy and kill them.
There was one patrol led by an Officer Commanding, he was Captain Sabdin Ghani.
They were airlifted for the follow up to the most likely enemy escape route. They jumped off the hovering helicopter into waist deep brackish and a foul smelling swamp. The helicopter left them there. They started looking for signs of the enemy, soon they came across a trail. They had picked up the fleeing trail of the enemy. They pursued the enemy by day until nightfall, where they continued pursuing the enemy aided by the moonlight in the swamp.
They suddenly came upon solid ground, which was covered by "mengkuang" leaves. These large leaves if stepped upon would make a crackling sound. Captain Sabdin Ghani split his men into two groups, one led by himself and the other led by Sergeant Lucas. Sergeant Lucas moved his men into a flanking movement.
In the moonlit night at a distance they came upon two huts connected by a walkway.
Captain Sabdin's group got on their knees and started crawling, clearing the "mengkuang leaves" so as not to give away their positions. Soon his group started climbing up the huts which were on stilts. The enemy became aware of the presence of the Rangers. The moment the enemy became aware Captain Sabdin Ghani opened up with his Sterling sub machine gun. His group too opened up. The short and fierce encounter resulted in two of the enemy being killed.
Another group led by Captain Abdullah of A Company laid a claymore ambush. This was a linear ambush. A group of six of the enemy who were also fleeing walked into the ambush position. One of the enemy realising that they were in an ambush position started stomping his feet into the ground trying to warn the others. The Rangers were not going to let them get away. The person holding the M57 firing device fired the claymore mines.
The mines got four of the enemy, two others managed to flee. When the clearing patrol, led by Lance Corporal Rahman Putih, saw one of the wounded enemy crawling trying to escape, he was badly wounded at the hip. Lance Corporal Rahman Putih was not feeling merciful that morning, thinking of his 15 dead comrades in arms. He finished off the wounded enemy with a burst from his Sterling sub machine gun. A total of 4 dead enemy were recovered by the clearing patrol.
‘We have our scars’: Chinese army vets slam Ummah for denying minorities’ part
Macva president Major Tan Pau Son during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifMacva president Major Tan Pau Son during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Ethnic Chinese army veterans have railed against Malay-Muslim coalition Ummah today over the latter’s erroneous claim that only Malays had resisted British colonists, Japanese occupiers and Communist insurgents.
At a press conference today, Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (Macva) president Major (Rtd) Tan Pau Son said cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad’s remarks were not only historically and factually wrong, but had belittled the contributions of the non-Malay veterans including the Ibans, Indians, Sikhs.
“We participated in defending our country and some of us still have scars to show that we were there — risking our lives,” Tan told a press conference at Mavca headquarters at Midvalley Boulevard here.
Tan said Mavca, with a membership close to 1,000 veterans since inception on August 31, 2016, and thousands who have passed on before them is a true testimony of a large group of Chinese veterans who had served loyally in military campaigns.
“Needless to say there were also Chinese veterans who sadly lost their lives and limbs in the defence of the nation.
“All Malaysians should rebutt all these inaccurate and irresponsible assertions made by Ismail,” he said.
Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association pose for group photo after press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifMalaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association pose for group photo after press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifTan also pointed out that there were six Chinese members of the armed forces who were bestowed with the Panglima Gagah Berani medals for their extreme bravery: Colonel Maurice Lam Shye Choon, Major (Rtd) Lee Ah Pow, Second Lieutenant (Rtd) David Fu Chee Ming, Sergeant (Rtd) Choo Woh Soon, Sergeant Cheng Eng Chin, and Ranger Mat Isa Hassan.
Meanwhile, three others, Lieutenant Colonel Chong Kheng Ley, Lieutenant Colonel Leong Fook Cheong, and Captain Tien Sen An, were awarded Pingat Tentera Udara for their valour.
“We have Chinese veterans who receive gallantry awards and this alone is a testament that the Malays were not the only ones who protected the nation,” he said.
On Saturday, Ismail who is the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, also asserted that only the Malays had battled the Communists, which he claimed made the community a target of the predominantly-Chinese Insurgency that lasted for forty years.
One particular war veteran who narrowly escaped death while fighting a battle in Southern Thailand in 1978, said he was hurt and angered by Ismail’s remarks in the convention outlining the demands of the Muslim lobby.
WO Patrick Lee ai Tong, 71 shows scar from a bullet during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — WO Patrick Lee ai Tong, 71 shows scar from a bullet during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. Warrant Officer Patrick Lee Kai Tong said Ismail’s statement was not only ignorant but hurtful to armed forces who had witnessed countless deaths and suffered various injuries in the name of the country.
Lee, now 71, walks around with a hole in his left arm after being shot by the communists who had zeroed in on the Nuri helicopter he was in while landing to provide ammunition supply to his own troop.
“Does he even know what it is like to be in a warzone? He can say what he want but do not hurt people’s feelings,” Lee said.
“Maybe this scar from an M-16 is not enough for me to prove that I was there fighting for the country but know that every memory, every death — even the smell of it stays with me.”
Tan also chided Ismail for conveniently forgetting that there were many Malay members among the Communist insurgents.
“In Ismail’s speech, he failed to mention that the 10th Regiment Malayan Communist Party was predominantly a Malay regiment unit operating in the jungles of Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand.
“The leader was Abdullah CD and his followers Suriani Abdullah, Shamsiah Fakeh, Abu Samah Mohamad Kassim and Rashid Maidin,” Tan said.
Contact At The Kinta Forest Reserve - Captain Mohana Chandran al Velayuthan (200402) SP, Ranger Bajau ak Ladi PGB & Cpl Osman PGB
Major Jayandran Koren extreme left, Thanaraj centre and Ray Chandran on the right. Late Capt Chandran was killed at about 2.40pm on 13 June 1971 in contact with the Communist.
"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 is 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.