Valour and Courage: Remembering OUR CONGO Heritage -A FORGOTTEN ERA Lest We Forget by Lieutenant Colonel TAN SIEW SOO (Retired)
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
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Stories Of Valour
Courage
Nuffnang
Miscellaneous
No Atheists
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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Remembering OUR CONGO Heritage -A FORGOTTEN ERA Lest We Forget by Lieutenant Colonel TAN SIEW SOO (Retired)
Tuesday, April 06, 2021
Caption: the Regiment was warmly greeted during the entire journey by the locals. This picture taken at Tororo Railway Station, Uganda. Capt Andrew Boudville serving tea to a Trooper, Maj Lakhbir Singh OC A Sqn looking in.

Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of Congo was brutally killed in Katanga on 17 January 1961, but announcement was withheld until 13 February. Following this some Afro Asian countries protested and triggered a crisis in ONUC(UN Operations in the Congo) when they withdrew their forces.
The UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold had to appeal to the more moderate countries to increase their contributions. The Malaysian (Malaya then) contingent totalled only 613 All Ranks. Our Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman graciously agreed to increase our force level to 1413 All Ranks. Our Army in 1960 consisted of only HQ 1 Bde in Kuala Lumpur and HQ 2 Bde in Ipoh. Basically we have seven Malay battalions and two Reconnaissance Regiments that can be employed with ONUC. HQ 3 Bde which last operated at Kepala Batas, Alor Star in 1959 was reactivated as HQ Bde MSF to be based in Bukavu.

Brigadier Abdul Hamid bin Bidin became its first Commander. Besides Brigade personnel, the first group of reinforcement was D Company 4 R Malay who had been left behind by the original Malayan Special Force (MSF) in Mentakap Camp, was flown into the Congo in February 1961 by C124 Globe master. 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment (2 Recce), now 2 ARMOUR made up the bulk of the reinforcement, departed Port Swettenham (Klang) on 07 April 1961 by USNS "Eltinge", a fully air conditioned sister Troopship of USNS "Blackford" which conveyed all Malaysian troops after April 1961 to and fro Malaysia-Africa.

The Regiment was far luckier than C Squadron who 6 months earlier had to rough it out in USN Landing Ship Tank (LST) on a very long voyage lasting 28 days via the Cape of Good Hope to the Port of Matadi. This time 2 Recce headed for Port Mombasa in Kenya on a voyage normally taking only 10 days. This particular trip took an additional 3 days with stopover at Mumbai to pick up Indian troops and stores. On arrival at Mombasa, B Squadron was detached from the Regiment and flown direct into Kinshasa taking over duties from C Squadron Rear Party led bt Lt Tan Siew Soo.

The rest of the Regiment now consisted of HQ Squadron, A Squadron and Support Squadron boarded a special train from Mombasa in Kenya to Kasese at the border of Congo/Uganda. The three day journey from Mombasa to Nairobi to Kasese was most interesting starting from the lowlands of East Africa and gradually rising to the Highlands of Kenya, several thousands feet above sea level, passing through some very beautiful and scenic places in Africa. In the course of the journey the train passed through the Equator and at the Equator our troops were shivering in their tropical wear!

Cook party was sent ahead of the main group to set up field kitchen at the next station, so when the troops arrived they 9were served with hot food and tea. Hundreds of East Africans greeted the Malaysians along the route, in particular the Indian and Sikh communities who showed full admiration for our troops discipline and good behaviour.

Passing through Uganda at Jinga, a Garrison town, some NCOs from 4 Kings African Rifles (4 KAR) who had served during the Malayan Emergency came to chat with the men. The officers were entertained to a meal at the 4 KAR Officers Mess, some found old friends from Sandhurst days! The officers of 2 Recce were offered accommodation at the Officers Mess at Jinga if they could get some leave. The great Commonwealth bond; truly appreciated.

Along the route, the locals often greet our troops with "yaambo a common Swahili Greetings, a language also spoken in the Eastern Congo. At that stage the new arrivals (sin khek) were not conversant with the language yet. Soon they would learn to answer back" yambo sana" All of us in the Malayan Special Force wore above our right breast pocket a brass tag with the word "MALAYA'. Often the yambo Greetings went with shouts of Malaya followed by much giggles among the local womenfolk.

We found out later, Malaya means prostitutes in Swahili !!! Thankfully we are now Malaysia. At Kasese, the Ugandan border town, the Regiment unloaded the vehicles and stores. Augmented by several UN 5 tonnes, 2 Recce Regiment hit the dusty trail for Goma. The convoy passed through Albert National Park along the route and soldiers had the opportunity to see first time big game in safari country. The first convoy rolled into Goma around 1800 hours on 30 April 1961. The 2 Recce Advanced Party and some Bde HQ officers were at hand to receive them. I was glad to be among the reception group.

Goma then, was indeed a beautiful town with its twin, Kisenyi across in Rwanda both located at the northern shores of Lake Kivu, a vast fresh water lake with Bukavu at the southern tip, some two hundred kilometers away. Goma had an ideal climate with a mean average temperature of around 70 degrees F (22degreesC) throughout the year.

It was to become home of the Recce Corps during its entire service with ONUC. The lucky beneficiaries were RHQ, HQ Squadron and Support Squadron. The fighting Squadrons, A, B and C Squadrons were always deployed at the sharp end spread out as far as two thousand kilometres in a country with 2 time zones, twenty times the size of Peninsular Malaysia!!
TAN SIEW SOO Lt Col, (Retired)

ARMOUR
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 7:06 PM  
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