To O.C. – Squadron
I have the honour to submit my report on the ambush in which my troop was involved on 19th December 1949, at the 43rd mile Bentras-Jerantong Road. In this battle, the bandit force was completely routed at a cost of no casualties to the troop other than the loss of a few trifling items of equipment, plus a scout car B.L.R. and some superficial damage to my Daimler.
As you are well aware, Sir, it is my good fortune to command what is probably the best troop in the Regiment. Were this not so, considering none of us had been under fire before, there might have been a less successful show. What I mean is, had the other troop patrolling that road encountered the enemy you can well imagine what a shambles might have ensued.
You will, however, not be surprised to hear that they had previously motored through the position without even noticing it, and did not return until the battle was over. I cannot understand, therefore, how they can have given any report on the circumstances. As for saying that the bandits obviously waited for a sucker to come along, I treat that remark with complete disdain.
I understand that a rumour has been circulating that all anyone heard on the wireless was me saying “Shut the bloody lid – do you want us all killed? Driver, shut up all those ghastly holes of yours – well, get out of the ditch, blast you, why don’t you look where you’re going? Oh, damn, now what do we do?” This is an obvious calumny designed to discredit me. I was of course perfectly cool and collected.
What I actually said was “Hullo Able six. Message for all stations able six able. This is Sunray. I am being ambushed. Do not enter the ambush area. I will clear this up myself. Able six and all stations Able six able out”. Since this transmission was not received I can only assume that my aerial had been shot away.
You will understand that a battle of this nature is too confusing to enable any detailed description to be attempted. Nevertheless, some idea of the fierceness of the encounter can be gained from the fact that at the conclusion of the battle my scout car and armoured car were in the ditch, and my Besa had jammed (owing no doubt to the extreme heat engendered by firing off belt after belt), whilst the foliage was completely stripped off all the rubber trees for some distance round.
In my estimation at least 150 bandits must have been involved, and although it has been reported, out of sheer jealousy, that fire positions had been dug for only three persons, this can well be attributed to the fact that the bandits had no time to dig more. The killed and wounded were obviously carried away by those lucky enough to escape my murderous fire.
By the time my troop sergeant managed to reach the enemy position with the dismounted assault troops the bandit force had fled, and all he had to do was consolidate. This was perhaps just as well since he was by this time so overcome with battle fatigue that he approached me in an overwrought manner and reproached me for the vigour with which I had made him press the attack.
His exact words were “You blank idiot, do you want to kill the lot of us?” Realising his condition I tried to soothe him and offered him a shot of morphia, hoping thereby to steady his nerves. The noble fellow, realising better than I that I had borne the brunt of the fighting, pressed me to take it first, saying “If either of us is in need of a dose of morphia, Sir, it’s you, Sir, if you’ll pardon my saying so, and that’s a fact”.
Equipment lost by enemy action in this engagement include my own W.D. wristwatch, compass, and binoculars – all of which were so damaged as not to warrant salvaging them from the field of battle. I understand that three other W.D. watches were also destroyed in this engagement, one being shot off the wrist of my troop sergeant and lost in the undergrowth, and two pocket watches on charge to other N.C.Os saving them from certain death by deflecting bullets which would otherwise have pierced their hearts.
The S.Q.M.S. is being most uncooperative about obtaining a write-off and I would appreciate it if you would take this matter up personally. It is not true that I had previously lost my watch in Ipoh when the M/Ps. Raided a certain hotel. Anyway, what about my compass and binoculars – why would I want them in a hotel?
As regards recommendations for honours and awards, if it is possible to adopt the precedent of Malta, G.C. and awarded my whole troop the M.C. this would undoubtedly reduce the paperwork involved.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,