Author Topic: Borneo Headhunters  (Read 137899 times)

Offline rizalbob

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2009, 11:06:59 PM »
Gentlemen,

I'm touched by your warm recounts of the Iban Trackers attached to you during your stint in Malaya. Thank you for remembering them with fondness . It had been  their fighting spirits that had fired me to join the Malaysian Rangers in 1967. I'm proud to say the Malaysian Rangers is keeping alive what the Iban Trackers had proudly displayed - the fighting spirit..

I was supposed to meet Maja ak Barik yesterday (23 June) but unfortunately he couldn't make it. He now lives in Bintulu, one and a half hours flight from Kuching.

Afetr being wounded in 1957/58, he returned to Sarawak. Unable to simply doing nothing, he joined the Sarawak Constabulary, then progressed on to the Police Field Force, where he stayed on till 1975. He was invovled in a few more battles with the Communist terrorists in Sarawak and was a receipint of a Police gallantry medal. He retired a Sergeant. He is now 78.

He has 6 children who are doing very well in life. I will post some of his photos when I get back to my home in Taiping, Perak.

I interviewed another Tracker yesterday - Penghulu Jinggut ak Penghulu Atan. He was in the first group who came in August 8, 1948. A very colourful character. I asked him whether he was with the Manchester Regiment but the name didn't seem to ring a bell in him. This tracker went on to be a Sarawak Member of Parliament for two terms. Amongst his collections of medals and awards are the QMC and OBE. He still keep them except for the OBE which he lost many years ago. He wrote to find out whether he could get a replacement but was told otherwise. He is now 85 but still look sprightly and the glint still shows in his eyes.

Lt Col Rizal Abdullah (Retd)
(I'm an Iban converted to Muslim)

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2009, 09:46:54 AM »
Good morning Col.,
I tried to open up with the Malaysian greeting Ke salamatan Jalan but my mind went blank, Welcome to the forum and the 'mad crew' we have on board  ;D.
I throughly enjoyed reading the original blog of yours when Bob sent me the link. Many years have passed since those days but I have the  Platoon photograph shown earlier on this site on the wall of our dining room and look at it every day to remember those persons whom I came to look upon as close friends. Most of their names I have long forgotten as unfortunately when I came home on compassionate leave in June 1953 I handed in my Platoon Nominal Roll Books etc and upon my return to them in August the entire lot had 'disappeared' along with I might add all of my personal items including my treasured beret and Sarawak Rangers cap badge which Col Baird, their OC at Port Dixon, had given to me on taking over the platoon and the only names I can recall were  - Cpl's Adrian, Changai,& Minggis (this latter one was if my memory serves me rightly the Head man), L/Cpl's Nyanau & Bujang who were never far from my side on operations ( self-appointed body-guards I believe!!).
I look forward to reading your book and trust that your researches in London will be highly successful.
Warmest regards fellow Ranger.
George.

Offline rizalbob

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2009, 10:37:06 AM »


Dear George,

Welcome in Malay is 'selamat datang'. In Iban language is 'selamat datai'.


It is sad really, that all these years the exploits and services of these Trackers had been little known to the Nation.

I have brought it to the attention of the Country's highest leadership. A heroes memorial is on the planning board. God willing all the remains will be brought home to Sarawak and the dead and those still alive will be accorded a proper recognition - after 60 years!

Can you advice me where can I get the records of these trackers?
1.     List by intakes.
2.   The battles they fought / incidents/ambushes.
3.   The contacts / ambushes that led to their deaths.
4.   Other relevant informations.

Thanks George. Terima kasih banyak banyak.

Rizal Abdullah

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2009, 12:52:20 PM »
Afternoon Rizal,
Thank you very much for the reminder of the greetings, as the old saying goes 'Use it or lose it' and as I have not spoken Malay for so many years I can only recall odd words or the 'mock phrases' which some of us developed in our time with the 6th Bn at Pengkalen Chepa such as the one I signed off with earlier in this link ' Satu lagi empat jalan' which to us was simply 'One more 4 the road' and the other one which I ultimately developed as my morning rouse to the platoon ' Apa Changkol Iban' for the English equivalent of ' What Ho Ibans' in which they absolutely revelled.
Now then as for information availability as you listed - you absolutely amaze me, I would have thought that the Malaya Defence Forces or Army HQ in Kuala Lumpur would have had all that information at their disposal.
All that I can remember is being given a brief resume of their origins - namely that General Templar on taking over after the assasination of High Commissioner Gurney  developed the idea of forming the Iban Trackers into experimental fighting platoons to , as Robert Bonner quoted in his book 'Jungle Bashers' -Pages 74 - 75 - '...if I can prove that they can out-bandit the bandits in the jungle, I shall try to raise a Regiment of them.' - he did this in March 1953  and I was amongst the first batch of NCO's given the task of adding military skills to their already highly developed natural fighting abilities and fortunately they were very quick learners and adapted rapidly incorporating their own ' silent signals' into the existing British Army ones. As I have said previously I learned a terrific amount of 'survival skills amongst other things, I also learned very quickly to stop asking 'Appa makan' (What is it?) when a full mess tin  was put in front of me on the grounds of 'what you don't know won't hurt or upset you or your stomach!!!'
However, the only possible source of some of this information would in my opinion be contained within the Regimental/Battalion Intelligence/War Dairies wherever these may be kept - as I said in my last email - my own Diaries was handed along with the Roll Books etc  in when I went home to bury my Father and was not to be found when I returned, the new one I  started was handed in to the Bn I.O. when I was posted back to the UK on completion of my tour of duty.Whether or not this information would have been kept by the War Office/ MoD I have no idea at all, sorry Rizal. If I come up with any ideas on this I will let you know, meanwhile take care, and happy hunting.
Regards.
George.

Offline rizalbob

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2009, 01:40:37 PM »
Dear George,

If ever there are any records of these Trackers it could have been kept in the archive of Sarawak museum.  I thought records on battles/contacts would have been kept in Units or War Museums in your country. Anyway, I'll find out. How about battles fought by your Regiment that involved the Trackers?

Rizal

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2009, 02:13:34 PM »
Bob,
I am going to have to come back to you on this query from Rizal, any ideas as to where the Bn War Diaries for Malaya are held? Do they still exist?  Do you have any of this information that he could use? This is the point in time where I regret ditching the book  'Tanah Merah' I had started to write back in the sixties/seventies when my memories were still quite strong and there were also most of the old gang to check out with for the odd details etc. However that is the situation at the moment and I would not like to rely on my memory for any of the incidents or even the areas we used to patrol. Looking through your book Jungle Bashers has revived some occasions but none in which I was personally involved.
I have even spent time on Google Earth looking down on some of the areas we were stationed in and am amazed at the changes in many instances, where there was dense jungle are now loads of villages and Holiday centres, view points and lookouts etc.
Here's hoping,
regards,
George.

Offline rizalbob

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2009, 04:09:53 PM »
Dear George,

I appreciate your effort in trying to help out. Hope this Regiment still keeps the records of its Malaya stint. Do other British Regiments keeps records as you do?

Rizal

Offline themonsstar

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2009, 05:20:49 PM »
Hi Rizal and welcome to the Manchester site

Have a look at this link, its to the Catalogue at the National Archives,Kew London, I put in the dates in for 1950-1955 its shows 1648 files/records, have a look if you find anythin you would like to see, let me know I will copy it & email (if its a small file/record) it to you or if its to big I will post it on a CD.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=Malaya+&txtfirstdate=1950&txtlastdate=1955&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=24&image1.y=7&image1=GO


Cheers Roy

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2009, 06:27:21 PM »
Dear Rizal,
Theoretically all Regiments kept War Diaries/Intelligence reports and these again theoretically should have been passed on to the War Office/MoD and now thanks to Roy our National Archives man and his listings you may be fortunate enough to have access to a lot of information.
I am just sorry that I have not been of greater assistance to you but hope that you will keep in touch with this site now that you have found us and keep us up to date with your findings.
Regards and take care,
George.

Offline Robert Bonner

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2009, 10:32:59 AM »
Sadly the situation regarding official records is detailed in my Foreword to Jungle Bashers.

 I quote: "Unfortunately the battalion war diary was destroyed years ago on the instructions of the relevant committee at the Public Record Office as 'being of no historical interest'. Many of the dates and incidents come from my own detailed diary and scrap book kept at the time and from the Incident Log Book for 1953/54, now in the Regimental Archives."

No further comment.
Robert

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2009, 11:10:45 AM »
Morning Bob,
You know me - I never did read 'Forewords' - always head on into the nitty gritty. Thanks anyway for that information - where that puts Rizal now I have no idea at all.
I did send you a PM earlier re Turning of the Leaves as we will be up in Manchester for a few days ( do I need to renew my Passport or get a visa these day?) ::) in July to see a few friends of yore.
Take care,
George.

Offline mack

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2009, 09:17:19 PM »
Sadly the situation regarding official records is detailed in my Foreword to Jungle Bashers.

 I quote: "Unfortunately the battalion war diary was destroyed years ago on the instructions of the relevant committee at the Public Record Office as 'being of no historical interest'. Many of the dates and incidents come from my own detailed diary and scrap book kept at the time and from the Incident Log Book for 1953/54, now in the Regimental Archives."

No further comment.
personally,i think their attitude stinks,they are supposed to be the keepers of records,yet they destroy records at the pinch of an hat,they were someones history.

mack >:(

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2009, 09:51:29 AM »
Morning Mack,
 I agree entirely with your comments - yes indeed, the history of each and everyone shown on that photograph including myself and the twelve men of the Bn killed prior to 1953, (plus of course the casualties of each and every other unit including Ibans and Dyaks that had been serving in the Federated States of Malaya since it all began back in 1948!!)
However, I suppose the excuse that would have been given was that 'The Malayan campaign was ONLY an EMERGENCY in Aid of the Civil Power and not a War as such'. It didn't end remember until 1963 when a 'Peace deal' was made when Chin Peng came out of the jungle at Baling and Malaysia  then came into existence as an Independent Nation. A former school friend of mine in The Malayan Police force was also  killed down in Rawang in 1952 - were their records also destroyed as being of no historical interest ???
George.

Offline rizalbob

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2009, 04:22:33 AM »
Gentlemen,

I'm touched by your kind assistance. I will browse through the informations and links you have given me and will definitely let you know.

I just came back from Kuching, Sarawak to meet and talk to one of the earliest Iban Tracker by the name of Temenggong Jinggot anak Penghulu Atan (FF 622). Tracker Maja anak Barik who was with The Manchester Regiment, unfortunately, couldn't make it to Kuching. I brought Tracker Jinggot to a local media in Kuching. They interviewed him and will get his story published soon.

Tracker jinggot was awarded a couple of awards from the Queen (see pictures) - QMC and the OBE. Can you tell me which are which?






Rizal Abdullah
Malaysia
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 09:13:26 PM by timberman »

Offline george.theshed197

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Re: Borneo Headhunters
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2009, 03:01:35 PM »
Good afternoon, Rizal,
 I have just spotted your email and must advise that none of the medals displayed are the O.B.E. ; I have been trying without success to find a photograph of the Order for you and must rely upon other more knowledable personages on this site to hopefully come up with an answer for you.
I will continue my searches for you meanwhile I hope someone else can help.
Take care,
George.