Friday, 29 July 2011

Home at last - after 60 long years.

For many, they left their long houses against the wishes of their parents. For most of them, the spirits and thirst for adventure in foreign land was too hard to resist. They couldn't hold back their warrior spirits and there was no better place than the turmoil in Malaya to let it loose.

Most were still young men of about 17 years old. Some were already married and had children. It was a one way journey for many - 21 of them to be exact. 

For the parents and wives who had lost their loved ones, there had been no hope of ever seeing their loved ones again - not until Operation Ngerapuh and later called Operation Mai Pulai (Operation Bringing Home) was mooted by me at the end of 2008, with the consent of the Chief Minister.

Three years later on 27 July 2011, the 21 remains of the Iban Trackers and Sarawak Rangers were brought home. They were laid to rest at their final resting place at a Heroes' Graves in Kuching, Sarawak. They are home at last - after 60 long years. It was a tearful "reunion" for many and tears flowed freely that day. Here are some of the scenes.

The pall bearers brought the 21 remains to the burial ground.

.....and carefully placed at the alloted graves.

As the prime mover of the project, I was given the honour to give a speech, where I read a poem and proposed the revival of the Sarawak Rangers. It received an applause from the ex trackers, ex Sarawak Rangers and the next-of-kins. I also suggested what George Swetman had suggested: have a display corner where artifacts, documents and photographs related to the Trackers and Sarawak Rangers could be displayed. Sarawak Museum will undertake this job.

Some of the VIPs - the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Deputy Federal Homes Affair Minister, a number of the State Minsters, General Officer Commanding 1 Infantry Division, Brigade Commander of 3 Brigade and 9 Brigade, ex servicemen and Gallantry award holders. 

The flags were carefully folded.

......handed over to the next-of-kins by the CM

Placing the caskets in the graves.

Pte Ugap's elder brother placing a bouquet of flowers over his brother's grave.

A tearful and inconsolable mother, daughter and grand daughter placing a bouquet over Nyambik's grave.

The Heroes' Grave

The epitaph

Sharing the same entrance to the WW2 Heroes' Grave


  1. george.theshed197@ntlworld.com30 July 2011 at 01:55

    Congratulations Apai Rizal on a job well done may they all now rest in peace back in their homeland.
    I was with you in spirit if not in the flesh.
    Apai Tuai George.

  2. Robert Rizal Abdullah30 July 2011 at 02:36

    Thanks Apai Tuai George,

    I had you in my mind all throughout the ceremony. My apology for being unable to bring you here to witness the reburial. I also noticed there was no representative from the British High Commission. I do not know what was planned by the Committee as I had been excluded from it. Anyway, I have kept your suggestions alive.

  3. tahniah diatas kejayaan ini Tuan. ia adalah penghargaan yang tidak ternilai buat ahli-ahli keluarga wira-wira bumi kenyalang yang telah terkorban demi keamanan negara. salute to our heroes!!

  4. Jasa dan keberanian Pahlawan Negara akan sentiasa menjadi contoh ikutan generasi hari ini

  5. Robert Rizal Abdullah30 July 2011 at 22:08


    Yes, their bravery must be an icon for the younger generation to follow.

  6. Home at last. I visited the site two days after ceremony. I think there should be a more suitable place. A place that is serene and yet expose so that all may know what they gave. I will suggest the amiphitheatre if done with grace and professionally would be ideal. As a memorial park it should be dedicated to all who served. Let us start with the Rangers. Our very own allington .

  7. Robert Rizal Abdullah15 August 2011 at 02:57

    I have done the most important phase - bringing all the 21 remains home to Sarawak. Getting that little piece of land for the 21 Iban warriors was not easy. Moving it to a more prestigious location for all warriors? That I think, should be another exercise by another team. The idea of having another Allington is good, in fact the ideal.

  8. Sir this might be of interest-

  9. Robert Rizal Abdullah16 December 2011 at 02:34

    Thank you. That is a great story and reunion. I have just registered to join the forum.

  10. Sir, I hope you'll get a response because if I'm not mistaken they've already stopped posting there since they were given permission to wear the PJM.