Saturday, 27 September 2008
Operation Pagar, Perak 1977
Operation Pagar, Ayer Kala, Perak, Malaysia 1977. I took part and played a major role in a brigade-size cordon and search operation against a small group of communist terrorists (CTs) who were caught in a cordon in the night operation. I was commanding Company D of 3rd Rangers and was one of three assault companies. We crossed Perak River (visible in the picture) at first light and started the sweep of the target area from the far bank of Perak River with the help of assault boats operated by 3rd Rangers Assault Pioneer Platoon. The going was tough as we had to force our way up a slope covered by thick thorny underbrushes closely interwoven, much like concentina wire. Their sharp thorns pricked and scratched our bare hands and faces. As we came near the top of the hillock we were under fire. I could hear the thumping sounds of bullets as they whizzed over our heads. I tried to locate where the fire came from. As it was still dark, visibility was still bad. I couldn't see the CTs. The target area was suddenly lightened up as flares were fired over our heads. We could hear the whistling sounds of empty canisters as they plunged down and landed uncomfortably close to us. We reached the top of the hillock without a fight and went down the other side for another few more hundred meters into a rubber plantation. No CTs. We knew we were quite close to the cordon forces and for safety reason stopped where we were. The same story happened to the other two assaulting companies on my right. It was a disappointment for us. Had the CTs slipped through the tight cordon at night? May be but the planners didn't think so. Leaftlets were dropped into the target area to persuade the CTs to come out. Loud speakers blared out similar messages. No response. The operation dragged on into its third day. Finally, I was asked to bring a small group armed with tear gas. We were asked to throw the tear gas canisters into suspected hideouts - hoping to force the CTs out. As expected, there was no response. The stark reality was that the CTs had slipped out of the cordon. Nevertheless, the operation was not a total failure. An independent group from 3rd Rangers operating just outside the cordon area made contact with a band of CTs on the first night. They killed one and captured another.