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Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Baton 1" - Pt 1

Readers...I received an article from a friend, an xMSC officer. He was at Gubir Camp when the unforgettable (to me) Gubir Tragedy of 26 April 1976 took place. For those who are not familiar with MSC (Malaysian Service Corp then) or more popularly known as 'Angkut', this is one of the groups in the Army whose roles are no less important ...behind the scene actors. Why do I say that? Without them, Nuri and vehicles would be grounded because no fuel, footsloggers would starve to death without rations, movement of troops would be restricted without their drivers, etc, etc.

Actually his write up is for his Intake. However, he would like to share his expriences upon accidentally coming across my blog. A real pity that this article reached me too late for me to include the additional relevant informations in my book. Anyway, here's a story from Anonymous...As is where is...

Subject : Whatever happened to Baton One
Dear Skot,

The trooping the colour for the ceremony in conjunction with the Royal Highness DYMM the King's birthday, saw the Air Force helicopters make a fly past carrying the flag of Malaysia and of the tri-services of the Armed Forces and the recently crashed of the Air Force's Hawk Jet, remind and prompt me to write this war romance novel like episode which hopefully will also draw sympathy and in remembrance of those fallen heroes. Events from an account of a miserable Second Lieutenant serving in the front line and should someone be interested to write a book, do a film or documentary from these true inspired stories then research for detail info should not be that difficult to acquire however it must be from the Kor Perkhidmatan's point of view as this is their story... 
  
The year 1976, during Ops in Gubir, Kedah and I was assigned as the Composite Platoon Commander. Soon on arrival, while my men were busy unloading pack rations into the makeshift store in the MT garage, I walked to the nearby Brigade Tactical Head Quarter's Ops room and saw an Air Force Colonel, chairing an Ops briefing with Air Force officers and their Pilots, overwhelming their army counterpart and the 6th Brigade Commander, the then Brig Gen Arul Pragasam was seen sitting beside him and just listening. This I thought is going to be an Air Force's war. While this is going on, for the past few days, troops from the infantries have already been flown and inserted along the Malaysia Thai border. So numerous, that they were so close to each other, hand to hand waiting to cut off the approaching enemies.

The entire Ops was mooted and based on an intelligence gathered from an SEP (surrendered enemy personnel) name Abdullah. Slightly dark and seems to be quite cooperative, he claims to be trained by the Communist factions in a camp situated somewhere in the mountains, close to the border. This camp was said to be able to accommodate hundreds of Communist Terrorist and equipped with power generators and even printing machine. According to him and when he was there, he saw group of couriers came in and out of the camp. So this is the camp that the Whirly Birds were trying to locate and to strike however the Gerak Khas who takes no less than orders directly from the CGS, were in standby and ready to spring into action should the camp is located. Capt Moid who commanded this elite troop got false alarms every now and then.

Few days past and there's still no sign of the camp and whatever secret of the intended Ops from the enemy's view should by now diminished as suspiciously many flights were done in and out around the area, in search of the camp. In the officers' Mess a group of Commandos, commanded by the then Lt Kol Hasbullah aka Col Bond who later becomes Brig Gen and sadly was killed in a helicopter crashed mishap, were hard pressed for more info from the SEP, as to where about exactly was the enemy camp? One of the officers told the SEP that he saw from the air, an area with vegetables farm and if the SEP realises of such a place existed near the camp then he wanted to take him to that location so from the distance, the SEP can point out the direction.

SEP Abdullah admitted to say that there was a similarity of such a place however he declined to go, in fear that he would be exposed. Angry over the SEP attitude at first however they assured him that they will be so high up in the air and that he would also be camouflaged. The SEP agreed, and this later proved to be successful and the next day when I went to the Ops room, there were couple of pictures and only when you look through the magnifying binocular that you can spot zinc roofing from an aerial view of the camp, covered and surrounded by tree canopies. An aircraft flew once over that area and focused pictures at the pinpoint location.

That day I saw, Capt Rahim Saad of the RGKM with his men, mounted a GPMG surrounded by sand bags around the Nuri's cargo door and about to make history, took off in true spirit of a brave warrior as decoy and later Skot Rajasaikaran Komando, with his troop moved in. They were supposed to abseil down, and from the mountain ridge.. to conduct raid downhill where the enemy camp rest slightly below. While the Nuri was making the approach, they were fired upon and they back out and emergency landed in Gubir. Soldiers were seen jumping out of the Nuri copter and limping away injured and also in fear that the aircraft would explode. That was the bad news however the indication was that the enemies were still there. After that incident the Komandos provided two troopers from their Jurulatih Abseiling dan Penyelamat Udara (JAPU) on Nuri during the Ops.

So it’s back to the Air Force and the next day some scores of Choppers will airborne from Gubir while the jets: tebuan, tigers and what have they, will come and strife the enemy camp. I consulted the BASO, asking him as to how much he required fuel for the Helis during the course of the Ops? He told me to be around 400 drums and when I realised that I have hardly half a dozen drums, stuffed near the bamboo bush, that was when I jumped six feet high and the problem reported to my CO and frantically message flashed for an urgent demand for Avtur fuel. The nearest Supply point was in Sungai Petani but doubt if they can supply that many and it could be that the fuel has got to be delivered from as far as Port Dickson. At one point I felt fighting the war alone knowing if the fuel are not there in time when Copters return for refueling, this could jeopardised their mission. Relying heavily on the efficiency of those executing the orders at all level and quarters within the KP units, the only thing to do is wait and hoping strongly that the fuel will arrive in time.

The next morning after a rough night, I went to the signal room situated at the end of the wooden block where the Ops room was. I met and requested a Capt of a Recce Squadron, to radio his men doing the escort in Sik, to see if the transports carrying the fuel are already there. He took my request rather casually however he did instructed the signaler to make the call. I came looking for him again as time marches on. The airborne was to commence at 1000hrs and the time then was already around 0900hrs! When I saw him coming towards me, without saying a word, I just gave him a hand gesture as an indication to know the status of my request.  He went inside the radio room and after briefly talking to the signaler, he said to me: "Ada.. bawak minyak ya..? Dia orang tunggu one Paymaster dari Askar Melayu, belum sampai". What..!, orang nak perang, ada pulak yang sibuk nak bayar gaji? That was my impression then, but what a great relief knowing that the fuel are coming. I do not wish to bother him again but discreetly informed the Brigade Major the then Mejor Mohd Haniff Taib on the situation and of course he knows the urgency and immediately instructed the Peninjaus to get cracking.

An hour or so later the beautiful sight of my three tonnes, entered the yellow brick road in the camp and every man I have, bent their back, rolling the 44 gallon drums to the various LPs around the camp. Almost immediately, the S61A Nuris and allouettes’ engines rumbled with dust swirled all over and soon they disappeared over the mountains and into the direction of the enemy camp as gunship and to be aerial OP for the jets to strife. Subsequently one by one came back for refueling and with extreme urgency that most of the AQM were contempt to leave a quarter of the fuel remaining in each drum so not to waste time checking on the water content should there be at the bottom of the drum.

I can only imagine that the aircrafts in action were firing and dropping the 500 pounders, giving hell to the enemies and those who try to escape would eventually met with rain of bullets, and blast of grenades and claymore mines from the infantry wallas, that were ready in position.. waiting for them and so I thought..  Hope and anxiety written all over the face of officers and soldiers and though it was drought in Gubir, the midday sun and the dust did not deter the Air Despatch men's spirit and when the dust settled that day, there were about half of the fuel stock remaining.

The atmosphere of the raging battle in progress did not take the feeling away from something more personal in me and every time the Recce escort party's leading V150 APC entered the camp, I will solemnly hoping to see if any vehicle that follows were from my unit and if so, whether they come with the fuel and rations will also be bringing letters. Young and restless then, I was in romantic mood and contemplating to receive the SWALK letters from her. When night falls, looking over the lovely silhouette of the mountain and like scenes in a Malay movie, I sang : 'Rintihan di jiwa ku., membawa derita.. merana dan kecewa.. Dikau bulan., tinggi nian.. tak tercapai tangan..' and imagine she will response to continue with the next verse.
Engkau orang mana tahu ini semua..

To be continued..
Lt Xxxxxx....Thank you.

8 comments:

xpara87 said...

woow,
Thank you.

Abah said...

Salam tuan,

Saya kira peranan KP (kor Perkhidmatan) juga memainkan peranan tidak kurang juga pentingnya. Pendapat saya boleh juga slot peranan depa ni boleh juga diselitkan didlam buku tuan tsb.

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Saudara Abah,

Semua Kor ada peranan masing-masing bagi menjayakan sesuatu operasi. Agak terlambat untuk di'slot'kan peranan Angkut dalam buku ini.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum Tuan......

Satu pengalaman cerita yang menarik. Sayang sebab lambat diketengahkan pada tuan untuk diselitkan didalam buku tuan. Tapi syukur juga kerana sekurang kurang nya ianya masih terdapat didalam blog tuan. Sekarang baru semua pembaca dapat menghayati cerita tuan ini dari perbagai perspektif.
Jika sebelum ini kami hanya dapat gambaran cerita dari juruterbang dan AQM.....kini kami dapat pula gambaran cerita dari tulang belakang yang menyempurnakan satu-satu operasi pesawat nuri ........Syabas Mej Nor & Lt Xxxxxx

Moza AQM said...

Tuan,
That stupid communist by the name of Abdullah is greatest liar on earth. One of the soetie Myself as an AQM.LtBakar,Lt Rosdi brought him for an arieal view of his area of ops, he keep on saying that the area, that area, no no that is the area, i think that is the area, at the end we abort the coverage.During the flying he can afford asking me for cigarrate, 555 tak mahu, asking for Lucky Strike,so fed up with his character i nearly slap him.......lucky none of us are smokers, what more no smoking in the aircraft.

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Saudara Anonymous,

Terima kasih.

Saudara Moza AQM,

Thank you. Appreciate if you could contact me through e-mail. I need to clarify certain facts.

zainalyan@yahoo.com said...

Dear Nor Ibrahim,
Assalamualaikum, Last nite I was with Ghuzal (Signal) and we were talking about your blog. It has been a long time since I last visited your blog. Today i manage to spend more than one hour going through some of the writeup in your blog. Keep up the excellent work of desiminating information about Perjuangan orang dulu-dulu yang mungkin tidak di sedari oleh orang-orang zaman sekarang.
From: Zainal Yan

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Waalaikumussalam ,

Thank you for stopping by. Long time no see nor hear. Why not you share your unforgettable experiences with us? That's applicable to Ghuzal as well. E-mail them to me.