Monday, 16 August 2010

An Update on Ops Ngerapuh

The 1st Experimental platoon Sarawak Rangers (the para-military Iban Trackers trained and reformed into Sarawak Rangers, which made them into full-fledged soldiers). Kpl Adrian ak. Tandang (seated extreme right was killed in a battle with the CTs on 27 January 1953). They were trained in Segenting Camp, Port Dickson.
The 2nd Experimental platoon, Sarawak Rangers. By the time Sarawak Rangers was disbanded on 15 September 1963, Sarawak Rangers had served with 42 British and Commonwealth Regiments. In the twelve years of fighting, their casualties were surprisingly low, considering that they were up front all the time. They suffered 20 KIA and 25 WIA. Taking into account that they were initially para-military (therefore enjoying less advantages and awards than regular soldiers), they had earned between them one George Cross (civilian equivalent of Victoria Cross), One George Medal, One Military Medal, One British Empire Medal and 23 Mention-In-Despatches.

Op Ngerapuh (renamed Ops Mai Pulai (Operation Bringing Home)) is on its final phase. The target date to bring home the remains of the twenty one Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers buried in Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore is 31 August 2010. A Sarawak State -level Committee has been formed to handle Ops Mai Pulai, headed by the Deputy State Secretary II, Datu Ose Murang. Its members are from Headquarters 1 Infantry Division, Sarawak Veterans Association, the Protocol Department, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation and the Chief Minister's Office. This is an appropriate and high-level committee who is empowered to make decisions and have the resources available on their hands. With this formation, my ad-hoc committee which I had formed in early 2009 is now dissolved. All matters are now at the hands of the State and Federal Committees. I have also washed my hands off any responsibility regards Ops Mai Pulai. Th following points have been decided: 1. The remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers will be buried in a cemetery located near to the present St Joseph's cemetery and the Sarawak Club and adjacent to the 2nd World War Heroes Memorial. The committee saw the site as suitable. 2. SEDC has been given the task of redeveloping the present Monument / Cenotaph at the Museum Garden to accomodate more facilities such as parade ground etc. 3. The target date to bring the remains home is set for 31 August 2010. Meanwhile ground works are being carried out by the various Federal sub-committees. Can they meet the target date? Let's keep our fingers crossed.

11 July 2011
I called one of the Sarawak State committee members and he told me the preparation of the reburial ground in Kuching, not far from the State Museum is in progress, He said it should be ready by 27 July 2011.

I can see that once it is ready, the Federal Committee in Kuala Lumpur will then begin the task of exhuming the remains, if any, and put them inside special boxes, to be transported to Kuching.

I have to document and record all these events for my own purpose and use. I don't know who are involved now as the officers and personnels are very mobile. Will find out.

12 July 2011
I have identified two officers involved in Op Mai Pulai.

I was told that the exhumation works will begin on 20 July 2011, including the 2 graves in Singapore. The remains will be flown to Kuching on 26 July 2011. The reburial will be done on 27 July 2011. I'm trying to get the Sarawak State Committee to sponsor my trip for the event - otherwise I'll have to make the trip on my own. I have to see the project that I had started in 2008 to the end.

I hope to witness the exhumation of the 4 graves in Taiping Christian Cemetery.

Monday, 2 August 2010

An overnight cruise in the Straits of Malacca

The starboard aisle at deck 8
In front of a lift at deck 10 where my cabin was.
The open deck where you could enjoy the fresh and cool sea breeze.
The hugh ship "Pisces" alongside its berth in Penang. It has 11 decks.
I and my house scientist (wife) were doing our daily morning walk in the Lake Garden of Taiping. We met a relative. In the short exchanges she told us about the cruise. It was planned for 30 July 2010 (but eventually brought forward to 29 July). The price was RM250 per person. The actual fare was only RM130.00. The RM250 was inclusive of the bus fare to and from Taiping/Penang. A bit on the high side, I thought. I will organise my own trips in the future. It sounded good. It offered a good opportunity for me to look for good subjects for my photography. My wife was not keen as she couldn't stand the ever-moving / bobbing / pitching ships. She had a bad experience in Kuching in the 80s. I didn't get all my wish granted. The cruise ship set sail at about 8 pm and returned to Penang at about 8 am the next day. In the inky darkness, there was no spectacular sight that I could catch with my camera. Anyway, there were plenty of activities on board - dining, musics, karaoke, duty-free shopping, massages and a casino. In the overnight cruise, you are not suppose to sleep. It would be an opportunity wasted. All too soon, the cruise was over - leaving a feeling that I had not achieved what I came for. Photography was my main intention. Cruising in an open sea at night was not a good choice anyway. It would have been better to go into the deep jungle.

The Last Post

A friend post this interesting article on the LAST POST - a hauntingly sad song played by a bugler or buglers at parades and funerals. I never knew of its beginning until now.

Last Post.

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which the Last Post was played; this brings out a new meaning to it. Here is something everyone should know. Until I read this, I didn't know about its beginning. But I checked it out and it's true:

We have all heard the haunting song playe3d by a bugler or buglers at parades and funerals - 'The Last Post.'

It's the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the American Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia . The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.

The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as 'The Last Post' used at military funerals was born.

The words are: Day is done. Gone the sun. From the lakes From the hills. From the sky. All is well.. Safely rest. God is nigh. Fading light. Dims the sight. And a star. Gems the sky. Gleaming bright. From afar. Drawing nigh. Falls the night. Thanks and praise. For our days. Neath the sun Neath the stars. Neath the sky As we go. This we know. God is nigh