Friday, 10 October 2008

Struck by Lightning

STRUCK BY LIGHNING (Operation Parabella) Mention Tanjong Rambutan, Malaysians will envisage the hospital for the mentally impaired patients, located in the God-forsaken place called Tanjong Rambutan, near Ipoh city the capital of Perak state. In mid 1977, my C Company was deployed in the rugged, rocky and mountainous area of Tanjong Rambutan on a normal search and destroy mission for any Communist Terrorists in the area. As I was to find out the hard way, even the weather was as unpredictable as the patients of Tanjong Rambutans. For the first few days, I concentrated on the low lands before going up higher and eventually to the top of the rocky and narrow ridges which gave us a fantastic and panoramic view of the land below. Looking for the CTs were like looking for a needle in the haystack, unless you were given a pin-point accurate intelligence. Otherwise, it was a constant searching and combing the vast jungles of Malaysia, hoping that you would strike a patch of good luck and made a chance encounter with the CTs. One day, I decided to lay a linear ambush on top of the ridge. By 4 p.m. I started to position the Company in groups of sections (seven to ten men) at intervals of about 100 meters. At last light (about 6.30 p.m.) during our "stand to" drill, the weather suddenly inclined. It was raining cats and dogs and the strong wind was lashing the trees above and around us. Occasional claps of thunder and lightning strikes had me worried for the safety of my men. My worry was confirmed. Just as I was about to settle into my hammock, I heard shouts getting closer from the group immediately to my right. A soldier, drenched to the bones, told me that his position was struck by a lightning bolt. Five soldiers who based up underneath a big tree were struck. Lance Corporal Hassan was the most serious. We had to massage and keep him warm the whole night to revive him. That night I radioed a message to my Battalion Headquarters requesting for a medical evacuation the next day. Early in the morning we packed up and moved along the ridge to look for a suitable point to winch out Lance Corporal Hassan. Syukur alhamdullilah, he was alright. In fact he continued serving in the Rangers and retired as a Warrant Officer Class 1.
We were at the winching point. We saw the Nuri coming and fired a flare.
Preparing Lance Corporal Hassan for the winching
Up and away he went. The task was done within a few minutes. Thanks to the RMAF guys who gave us the full cooperation and a job well done.
The Wrath Atop a rugged mountain range. We strung out in ambush. And waited for the enemy. A cobra recoiled, ready to strike. A spider, waiting for the slightest vibration to sink its fangs and inject the poison. Came nightfall, the weather inclined. Rain poured in torrents wild. Lightning, flashes blinding. Thunder claps, deafening. No sign of abatement, Our tents our prisons. Perched high on rocky ground. Opened to dangers abound. Cascading waterfalls, Thunders and fireballs. I cringed with worry – intuition. A while later, a shout of exasperation from the nearest ambush position. Dismayed that my fear confirmed. Struck by lightning! Four soldiers took refuge under a tree. Three injured slightly, one seriously. Four claymore mines blown off instantly. Next day a winching point we looked. Atop the mountain spooked. To evacuate the injured soldier to Base and recover.


  1. Every line is filled with excitement.

    This is an extremely interesting combat which only real experience can bring. Someone should make you a consultant for movies made in Malaysia!!!

  2. Chang Yi,

    I wish it could happen. But alas! I'm an unknown and a small man - unnoticeable.