Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Held in High Esteem

One of the Ibans Royal Marine Commando
David Lagan and his Tracker Dog
Presentation of a Green Beret (RM Commando) to a Sarawak Ranger by CO of 42 Cdo RM, Lt Col B.I.S Gourley, in Semenggo Camp, Kuching in 1963. This soldier has just recovered from a wound.
An ex 40 and 42 Commando Royal Marines, David Lagan, stumbled into me in The Manchesters website where I'm a member. The Manchesters was one of the British Regiments where the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers were attached to during the First Emergency in Malaya 1948 - 1960. The site is my source of information. Indeed, the guys, like Apai George, who are ex Manchesters themselves have fond memories of the Ibans attached to them at that time. David Lagan who was 18 years old then, was involved in the mopping up operation of the Brunei Rebellion in 1962, together with soldiers of the Sarawak Rangers. The Royal Marine Commandos held the Iban soldiers in high esteem. According to David Lagan, "The Ibans are a part of Commando folklore and are regarded as the loyalist comrades we ever worked with." David Lagan wrote, " When the Commando Brigade left Malaya all the Ibans were presented with a green Beret. British Army personnel were not able to serve with the Commando Bde unless they had completed the Commando course. It says a lot about the esteem they were held in by the Brigade!"

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Mysterious Sarawak Rangers Grave.

A Mysterious Sarawak Rangers Grave.

According to the record, there are only four Sarawak Rangers buried in Taiping Christian Cemetery. When I visited the graves on 3 December 2009, I saw a fifth headstone with the inscriptions (some words were missing): ".............Malaysian Rangers died on 16 Jul 1958 11 months 10 days Rh Gawang, Sg Pakan, Julau, Kanowit." Firstly, the 1st Battalion Malaysian Rangers was only formed on 16 September 1963, when Malaysia was formed. If any members of the Rangers had been buried there on 16 July 1958, it definitely was not a "Malaysian Rangers" but a "Sarawak Rangers". Who could have been buried there? This headstone is not the usual standard granite with the Sarawak Rangers badge inscribed on it. Even the words are roughly written. As the age of the deceased was 11 months and 10 days, could it be the child of one of the Sarawak Rangers? Following this, there are a lot of questions in my mind. Were Sarawak Rangers allowed to bring their wives/families along with them to Malaya? Were they given proper housing? Where were they based at that time? Were there any of them in Taiping, Perak? As of now, we do not know. There are very little documented records kept by the Malaysian Army. Most, if not all are kept by the British Army/Administration in various archives in London.
The four Sarawak Rangers Graves with a fifth mysterious grave.
The mysterious Sarawak Rangers grave
900815 Pte Kumpang ak. Tinggi
900665 Pte Nyambik ak. Pasang
900601 Pte Letan ak Kusing
900172 Pte Ugap ak Utut

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Manchester Regiment - An Illustrious Link from the Past.

The Manchester Regiment - An Illustrious Link From the Past.

In the middle of 2009, Robert Bonner from the official website of The Manchester Regiment of the British Army found my blog Since then I have been communicating with “Apai Tuai” George and the later. ( “Apai Tuai”is an Iban title respectfully given to an elder.)

Through the blog they knew about my attempt to research the exploits of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers and their involvement in the First Malayan Emergency 1948 – 1960.

“Apai Tuai” George was with the Manchester Regiment in Malaya in the early 50s and he personally knew some of the Iban Trackers such as Cpl Adrian Tandang, who died later in a contact with the CTs. He has fond memories of them.

My two-way relationship with Apai Tuai George has been very fruitful. He has given me a lot of invaluable informations that have thrown lights on the otherwise mysterious Iban Trackers in Malaya.

The Manchester Regiment had suffered a number of KIAs. Six of them were laid to rest in Kamunting Christian Cemetery (Taiping).

Apai Tuai George had requested if I could take pictures of the burial sites and send them to him through their website, which I finally did on 3 December 2009. Sorry George for the delay.

I went down to Kamunting Christian Cemetery that morning. The Cemetery is situated along the Taiping - Kamunting road - just about two kilometres from the centre of Taiping town and about 200 metres from TESCO and Taiping Sentral. It is sandwiched between residential / business lots and a BHP petrol station. The Cemetery is no longer in use. There are a number of Commonwealth Forces KIAs buried there. When I came in, I met two Tamil men (father and son) who were apparently the caretaker of the place. They seemed to know the locations of each and every headstone there. When I inquired about the six Manchesters, they brought me to the locations without hesitation.
Entrance to the Cemetery
J. Grady, T. Arands & T. Traynor
J Grady
T. Arands
T. Traynor
R H Smith, W M Baillie & M Harrison
R H Smith
W M Baillie
M Harrison