NO, NO THREAT HERE… By Craig Hannan, SASR
Before we hit the deck in Malaya in ’78, we were told the cop shop at Alor Star had been rolled by CTs and 12 cops had been killed. We were picked up at the local airbase by the 8th Battalion RMR, fully booted and spurred with tactical truck layout, armed guards on all trucks and three Saladin Armoured Vehicles. These guys had just finished operations on the Thai border and had suffered casualties. We were less than impressed to be in polys and unarmed. The first week we were there a train was hit some 20 clicks away. We were stood to and restricted to base. We expected to deploy with the Malays in pursuit but didn’t. We were given off-limit areas in town and were taken into town in armed convoy, dropped off and left to our own devices before being picked up by armed convoy again. WTF.
We were carrying live ammo – a whole 20 rounds – when doing ex on the Thai/Malay border. We were told it was for tigers, elephants and CTs in that order. It was supposed to be carried taped in a sock in the outer pouch of the pack. Fuck yeah. Not! Being forward scout, mine and our No 2’s were untapped and in our pockets.
Apparently, the Thais and Malays decided to do a border sweep together for the first time in 20 years or some shit like that. We had an armed Malay with each platoon and the Malay Special Forces had recon units in the area and were providing a platoon too as protection, which also formed part of the enemy. They all carried a full operational load of ammo.
Late one night on the gun, I heard a shit storm over the mountains about five clicks north of us. I shot bearings and all the good shit and reported it Seco, Sarge, Plt Cmdr.
Patrolling the next morning we came across a sign and followed it, which led us to a camp. We did a camp attack and went through all the good shit. Getting ready to move out, we were told to sit tight. All the Malay protection disappeared. Some 10 minutes later we were told to move out and also told there were no friendlies to our front. Anyone seen was to be considered CT. We were told to go to the loaded state. Talk about shits being trumps. I led off the company. Lynchie – my No 2 – and I looked at each other, said, “Fuck this shit,” and whacked a round up the spout, telling Steve the Seco to go fuck himself. He challenged us over putting one up the spout instead of just loaded state as ordered.
We headed up a spur line to the north east really slowly and cautiously. The seco and plt commander gave us the hurry-up and we gave them the bird in reply. We crested a small rise and it looked like an overgrown road and not a natural berm. Moving up a small washout on the side to keep from silhouetting myself, I was about to move onto the top of it when I saw movement in the J to my left north. I gave the enemy signal to Lynchy, who was beside me in a sec. I’d sighted up on the moving scrub. A Malay walked into an open area dressed in a brown khaki uniform with a peaked cap and a Red Star on the cap. I had my finger on the trigger ready to let loose. I saw another three fuckers all with AKs, SKSs and a shotgun. I felt a tug on my leg but didn’t look. Seco beside me saw this and shat. I had this cunt dead to rights when I heard Francis, Company HQ Sig, pipe up from the same area to ask where our call sign was. I saw the OC walk forward and start talking to the guy I’d soon find out to be the enemy commander. I stood up and walked over, getting stuck into them for being stupid cunts – a foot in mouth thing. The OC did not take it well. I told him he needed to get his nav shit together as I unloaded in front of him. He sort of went white, so did the Malay.
No, no threat here… for the rest of the exercise. I carried live at all times and switched out when needed. No fucking way was I getting nailed for some cunt’s arrogant stupidity. We moved to the east coast around Seremban, which was considered a safer area. We were doing a night ambush on track junction blank loaded. I was in the killing ground on the easterly running section of track early am when four guys came along the track. We let rip and they returned fire, not blank but live, with a couple of AKs and the others I think were M16. By the time we loaded live, they had fucked off. No, no threat here…
During the last week of our time with 8th Battalion, I came down with scrub typhus and ended up in the base hospital. I didn’t remember anything for the first five days. When I came to and sort of looked through my haze, I saw all these guys with their legs up. I thought they’d had a run on broken legs. Immediately I sat bolt upright, tossed the sheets back and grabbed the jewels and then both ankles. Thank fuck they were still there. I looked around as they all burst out laughing. They were all mine and IED victims – about a dozen in all. They all sank into silence and the mood became really morose. I just wanted out of there but was stuck for another few hours.
During this time I remember our first build-up training on an old CT bunker system. We patrolled in. Lynchy spotted the bunkers before me and signalled. We moved forward and did a quick look, saw and then passed it back. The boss pulled us back some, and we went forward to do a close recon.
The company shook out and we rolled them over, caught them napping – a few quite literally after the reorg and all the usual stuff. The boss let us go and have a snout about the position. We checked out the bunkers and shit that hadn’t had crap bombed out of them. While doing this the Malay officer in charge grabbed the boss and worded him in. We were all called back and told the area wasn’t clear. There were still live mines and booby traps in the area and the entire area in which we were operating. No, no threat here…
Still feeling really bad, I got out and found out that the company had already gone to Butterworth and that I was to be taken on a resupply truck down there. I was told that all my gear had gone and I’d have to go in what I was wearing – blue shorts and yellow (gold) company T-shirt and runners. Good one guys!
The resup truck was a F250-type truck with two Malays up front – both armed. I got in the back and it was full of ammo boxes and boxes of the shit. I sat freezing my arse off, still with a temperature of 102. Great! So, we wound our way across country, this short run turning into an epic as we stopped at little checkpoints all over the countryside.
Late afternoon we hauled in at one small joint of about three buildings. The Malays got out and disappeared. They spoke no English and me no Malay. I still felt really shitty so leapt out and went to sit under a tree off the side of the road. Time just dragged by. It had been nearly an hour and there was still no sign of these pricks.
I was getting a little toey and hungry by this stage so went to the truck to see if they had any tucker. They’d both left their weapons and webbing in the truck. I had no idea why I did it but grabbed the driver’s shit and took it back to my tree. I started ratting through, looking for food and checking his gat. As I suspected, no round up the spout so I cycled one and laid it across my lap and munched on his chocolate bar. Ten minutes later I was starting to drift off and the world turned to shit. Rounds were slamming into the truck. I spun around and took up position to try and see what the fuck was going on. The door on the small building burst open and these two Malay digs came running out, followed closely by three armed men, one with a handgun. He aimed and shot one of them. I let rip a burst at them. They dropped off the veranda and returned fire at the truck. Another couple of guys were firing at the truck from the end of the building, so I took a couple of shots at them and they went to ground. The Malay not shot grabbed his mate and dragged him to the truck. I kept returning fire, saw one guy hiding behind a motorbike and took a shot, which went through the tank and dropped him.
They pulled back from firing into the truck. They still hadn’t worked out where I was, thank fuck. The Malays were in the truck by this stage. The engine was turning so I bolted ’cause these guys weren’t waiting for me. I leapt over the side of the truck into the tray and as I let go of the side, a burst shredded it just where my hand had been. I slammed on top of the boxes and winded myself. I could feel rounds passing really close and saw some smashing though the tray. I stuck my head up and took a few shots. I changed mags again and fired a few more as the truck slid down the road. By this stage, rounds were still coming at us so I wedged myself in the corner and fired at anything I could see. The truck slid around a corner and smashed me into the boxes. The fire had stopped. I turned and looked into the cab to see the driver focused, not looking at his mate bleeding all over the place. I bashed on the roof, trying to get him to stop, but he wouldn’t.
I smashed the rear window out with the butt of the 16. He shat himself and swerved, sending me flying. I got it together and reached in to his mate, who’d been shot through the right shoulder. It was a neat entry but a bigger exit wound. I grabbed the driver’s webbing, got his field dressing and the one off mine. I opened them, stuck them over the wounds and pulled the guy back into the seat, putting as much pressure on them as I could. He still wasn’t good so I smashed open one of the ammo boxes, stuck a piece of the box behind his shoulder and pulled him back against it. He still wasn’t great but better. I tried to get the driver to stop but he refused and kept driving flat out. I don’t know how long we drove for; it seemed like hours. The guy I was tending was starting to drift in and out of consciousness. Each time his head dropped, I would ram my fingers into the wound and wake him with the pain. He was losing shitloads of blood. We finally hit the main drag and hauled up at a guardhouse. I had no idea where we were. The next thing, some armed Malays dragged me out of the back, threw me on the ground, kicked me a few times and cuffed me. I was then marched off to a lock-up.
I went ballistic, screaming at these cunts. They just either laughed or belted me. They locked me down and I proceeded to smash the shit out of the joint. Well, I tipped the bed over, kicked shit and punched the walls. I stopped that pretty quickly as I almost broke a few knuckles. I tipped the bed back up and sat down. About an hour later, the OC arrived, pulled up a chair and sat “outside” the cell. He started to word me in that I may have just caused an international incident and that I was to keep my mouth shut.
I lost the plot and started abusing him. He went off and told me to get it together; anyway to keep it shut.
About two days later some suit turned up and worded me in that this never occurred and that the Malays were dealing with it. WTF? I was told to sign a bit of paper, which I found out was the Official Secrets Act and told that if I opened my trap I would be charged under the Act and could face life in the piss can. I lost it again and copped a smack in the mouth from his offsider, which dropped me. I saw this cunt advancing on me to give me a kick, so I drew my right leg up to protect the jewels. At the same time I hooked my left behind his left and punched both legs, one forward and the other up to my right. I slammed into his kneecap and he fell backward with a loud crack in his leg. His head smacked the ground with a sickening thud; he was out. I jumped up and advanced on the cunt, giving him a kick in the gut for good measure.
The guy behind the desk said nothing, He simply waited till I’d calmed down before ringing out and getting his bloke removed. He asked me to sit and then proceeded to fill me in on the ramifications of my actions if they became public. That was it. Over. And this is the first time I have spoken of it with the exception of one close friend. No, no threat here…
Cunts, fucking fucking cunts.
A shitload of the time when leaving to go out, the guards on the gate would laugh at me and do the crosshair sign, as if sighting up on me. I felt really safe. Sometime later, one of our guys was killed by a vehicle, and we were told it was an accident. I certainly didn’t believe it and the guards on the gate and other Malays certainly didn’t either. They took great pleasure in telling me I was next. No, no threat here…
Anyway, that’s my two bobs’ worth on RCB, Malaysia.
This shit has fucked with me for years and I have no idea whether to
do something about it or if it’s just me.