Valour and Courage: “Tuai Rumah” Harold Speldewinde—Fighter with a Cause - Eurasian Harold Anak Speldewinde is one of a kind by James Ritchie
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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“Tuai Rumah” Harold Speldewinde—Fighter with a Cause - Eurasian Harold Anak Speldewinde is one of a kind by James Ritchie
Monday, December 02, 2019
Harold and Molly Speldewinde
At 17 years old, the stocky rugby player from Penang was forced to become a fugitive for championing the cause of the people during the Japanese invasion.
He had joined the Penang Eurasian Volunteer “E” Company under Lt A. Wilwebber, was “bodyguard” for the freedom fighter M Saravanamuttu who helped bring about a situation of calm during the bombing of Penang on December 8, 1941 where tragically thousands were killed or wounded. Together with Saravanamuttu, better know as Uncle Sara, and another Eurasian Oswald Foley, they helped evacuate several British Officers who were fleeing to Singapore.
The three of them drove a truck to pick up the officers, taking them to Sungei Pinang, before putting them on a “tongkang” with food and water during a midnight operation. Uncle Sara was arrested by the Japanese for being a British Collaborator and locked in a cell measuring eight by eight feet for nine months. However, Harold Within weeks of the Japanese invasion was a wanted man with a $500 price on his head.
Taking to the jungles of Pahang, he spent the war years on the run while living with the Orang Asli Semai tribe with his young wife Molly Macintyre and first-born son. While this happening his father, Claire Alexandra Speldewinde, joined the South East Asia Command in Peredenia in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).The Ceylon-born Eurasian Dutch Burgher had been transferred to Malaya as a forester in the early 1900s before establishing his own rubber plantation in Cameron Highlands.
Harold’s youngest brother Ernie accompanied his father to Ceylon, while brother Bill joined the British Navy and Dick based himself in Kuala Lumpur. In a recent interview with 84-years old “uncle” Harold at his Bukit Glugor home in Penang he reminisced. “Heroes like Uncle Sara used a wireless to appeal to the invading forces to stop the bombing and Ivan Allen who had cycled to Sungei Petani to inform the Japanese there that the British had fled. This helped prevent a greater onslaught of the local folk. “For all our sacrifices were not remembered, not even a word of thanks from the British,” he said.
Uncle Harold who celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary on May 24 also spoke of how he managed to marry his childhood sweet Molly while still on the run. “While in the jungle I was able to communicate with Molly through messages which were sent through secret couriers and friends. I also sneaked into Penang to meet her when I could.” After a simple wedding ceremony in Penang, Harold went back to the jungles of Cameron Highlands with his young wife to carry on the struggle. Their hideout was within the operation are of the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) of whom the famous Chin Peng was a leader (later it was renamed Force 136).
Molly recalled the day she arrived at her new jungle home. “We walked from midnight to noon before reaching an Orang Asli hut on a steep hill.” They were living near a 200-strong Semai community who had vowed to protect them. After all, they Orang Asli had close association with the caring Claire Speldewine who had worked in the area as a forester and rubber planter and that was the least they could do for his son. Harold continued:” We lived on a hill while the Orang Asli was in a valley about two kilometers away.
We had only a few clothes and the stream nearby was our toilet. We fished in the river using traps such as “bubo”, ate ubi kayu, bamboo shots and small mamals, if they were available. “I carried a carbine rifle but had no opportunity to use it. The Orang Asli was like sentries and would alert us if the enemy was approaching. So this is now we spent the war years.” Their son.....was born in the jungle and it was a great celebration for not only the Spendewindes but also the orang Asli.
After the war Harold went on to become a planter and this led him to Sabah. Here he found new friends and his name was associated with the big-time planters in Malaysia. Later on Harold went on to form the Penang Veterans Association of which is he still president. He also was a patron of the Persatuan Veteran Keselamatan Malaysia and opened a branch office in Sarawak. Lawyer and retired police ASP Wilfred Gomez anak Malong, a recipient of the Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) award for bravery, was its first President and James Ritchie, its secretary.
During this time Harold and his veteran team from the peninsular visited several longhouses in Ulu Julau and Lubok to catch up with the Iban trekkers, retired Sarawak Rangers, war veterans and Border Scouts, enquiring about their welfare. A census showed there were several hundred over the age of 60 who were still surviving. During one of the visits Harold was conferred the honorary title “Tuai Rumah” Harold anak Speldewinde, a position which he accepted with pride.
At that time Wilfred and “Tuai Rumah” Harold concurred that the government should set up a special Sarawak veterans association to look into the welfare of these old timers. During that time there was also an exchange programme where Sarawak’s veterans such as “Sape” player Uchau Bilung and others took part in cultural performances, including blowpipe skills. Some of the veterans even visited the Orang Asli famous for their Senoi Praque trekker unit. Harold who was a past President of the Penang Eurasian Association went on to restore Fort Cornwallis and is now on a new mission—to unravel the mystery of the Penang Cenotaph—a monument built by the British in the 1920s.
“The Penang Cenotaph is a monument which is dedicated to all the war veterans who sacrificed their lives to make Malaysia a safer place for everyone. However, it appears that none of our historians know when it was exactly constructed,” he lamented. While on his quest to find out more about the history behind the Cenotaph, Harold is thinking of making a sentimental journey to Sarawak sometime soon.
“I had operations on both my legs but there are still not that strong to take me far. However, I must come back to Sarawak.” If I know the Octogenarian well, he will live up to his war cry-Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban!!
See you soon "Tuai Rumah" Harold.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 4:12 AM  
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