History of the Rangers: Ambush on the road Gubir / Nong Gajah

The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Ambush on the road Gubir / Nong Gajah
Monday, June 04, 2007
On the 7th April 1975 at 1640 hrs, a platoon from Delta Company commanded by 2Lt Syed Ikhmal Hashim pushed off from Nong Gajah , a small rural settlement, after handing over operational duties in Gubir to No 9 Platoon of the 13 Malaysian Territorial Battalion. The platoon moved in three 3 ton trucks, escorted by an armoured scout car (Ferret) from B Squadron, 2nd Recconnaisance Regiment, they headed towards Gubir town enroute to Sungei Petani

The day was cloudy and it rained heavily.The Ferret Scout Car was the last vehicle in the convoy. After 15 minutes of travelling when the first vehicle arrived at GR 186800, whilst the vehicle was climbing a ridge, the Enemy opened fire from three different directions. A 40 mm round from an M79 hit the bonnet of the lead vehicle, which disabled it causing it to come to an immediate halt on the right side of the road. The second vehicle too was hit, causing it to stop abruptly 25 yards behind the first. The soldiers returned fire. The platoon commander managed to lob 2 hand grenades.

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A M79 which launches 40 mm rounds

While all the above was happening, the third vehicle stopped 400 meters behind and informed the commander of the Ferret Scout Car about the situation in front. Without hesitation the Ferret Scout Car's commander sped off into the killing area of the enemy. Luck was not on the side of the Commander of the Scout Car, he was greeted with very heavy fire, a wild shot from the enemy entered into the barrel of the Browning Machine Gun, thus disabling the only weapon the scout car had.

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A model of a Ferret Scout Car

In this situation the Scout Car continued forward to call for help from Gubir. Whilst the call for help was going on, a round from the Enemy's M79 penetrated the iron plate hitting the vehicle's engine. Whilst all this was happening the survivors in the two forward vehicles were taking cover on the left and right of the trucks. The soldiers in the 3rd vehicle advanced towards their comrades but were beaten back by withering fire from the Enemy. The enemy dominated the ground above, having a clear line of sight and good fields of fire. The men in the lead truck and the 2nd truck were isolated from the 3rd truck. Most of the casualties, the dead and wounded were in the lead truck. The platoon commander 2Lt Syed Ikhmal Hashim was himself badly wounded. The enemy had the free will to move around. He heard some movement and looked up, there was a machete hovering over him held by a male, who was about to decapitate him. Then there was a female voice which said, " Leave him, let him live to tell this story".

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The view of the road from the enemy position, similar to the real one.

An after contact analysis and investigation ,found out that it took about a month for the enemy to prepare their fire positions. The enemy worked out all the fine details for an ambush. Details too on where the soldiers would take cover were anticipated. All the good possible cover which soldiers would instinctively move to were heavily booby trapped. The three diffrent locations to open fire on the convoy was to create the maximum number of casualties, with interlocking fields of fire, were very well executed. They were pushed for time. If they delayed in conducting the ambush after initiating it, the follow up by the troops would be devastating upon them. The enemy never had stood a chance in frontal ground contacts or ambushes against 7th Rangers soldiers in the past. That's why they did not hang around for too long.

The Ferret Scout Car now very immobile had the Enemy all over it. The crew locked themselves in and swivelled the turret left to right to keep the enemy off balance, as the Enemy was trying to pry open the hatch to lob in a grenade. The crew was fortunate that the Enemy failed. The enemy was also receiving sporadic shots from the 3rd truck. Everytime a shot was received by the Enemy from the 3rd truck, the Enemy retaliated with very heavy fire. The Enemy stayed away from the 2nd truck as the soldiers in the 3rd truck had a clear line of fire to the 2nd truck. The fight continued for around 25 minutes, at 1715 hrs (5.15 pm) the Enemy withdrew. The news about the ambush reached Gubir. Two platoons from C Company 13 Battalion Malaysian Territorial Army raced to the location.They were late by 45 minutes. 6 soldiers died and 8 wounded in this encounter.

2Lt Syed Ikhmal Hashim survived, recovered from his wounds and left the service after some years.He later joined Territorial Army as a volunteer Officer.Current whereabouts unknown. It will be good to know where he is, anyone ?
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 7:34 PM  
  • At 7:52 AM, Blogger Ridzuan said…

    It's not a shame to fall in battle, better than to live a coward. Lessons learnt! Lessons learnt! That's what matters for the next generation of warriors.
    In 1969-1970, when the Pedu Dam was still under construction and my dad was the OCPD of Kuala Nerang,Kedah I had the previlege to follow my dad around to see the construction of the reservoir, it was under the protection of certain PPH and TA units.I knew too that there was a Recce Regiment camp at Kuala Nerang, as it was my favourite playground after school.Had the privelege to roam the camp and made friends with the officers and men. I knew certain gentleman was an officer, through conversations that we had, and the binoculars he held to observe passing girls at the recreational ground opposite the camp!I could see a lot of weapons around, Sterling SMGs, L36 grenades and SLRs.Love to 'inspect' the armourer or the weapon store.And of course the venerable Mk 3 Ferret Scout cars.Once we travelled in a two or three vehicles convoy, (all PPH vehicle), from Kuala Nerang,through Naka (a sub unit of PPH stationed here if I am mistaken),then inching toward Gubir using the same road as the ambush above,I believe.I remember too how at certain sections of the gravel road, our land rover and the other 2 vehicles struggled uphill. Our journey was uneventful, though I knew very well the presence of 'komunis' in the jungle because I am aware too that we are close to the Thai border.But somehow, I wasn't scared at all although I was only 9 or 10 years old then. At Gubir Camp, had a swim at the swimming pool. I wondered then, why such a place,and how could such a place deep in the middle of no where, had such luxury.I did't realised then either the camp was a TA camp, only knew it was an army camp.
    Back to the ambush story above and what we could learn from it.If only the convoy involved could call upon support fire from either 105mm arti ,or the 20mm supression fire from our 'little birds', the Alouette III gunships.That is 'if' these supporting fire were available at that particular time. This could mean a big difference in the outcome of the ambush.
    No doubt good training and rehearsals brings out the best in a soldier. But there is always a small element called 'luck' in anything we do in life, be it business, relationship or in this case battle.Experts say luck plays only 4 % role in any successful venture, the rest is hardwork.I am referring to the damaged .303 Browning machinegun of the Ferret Scout car.Any how,that particular gun are known to often jammed during use, and the cloth belt of the ammo is to blame, it seems(Any how ,what a fluke shot by the CTs). Please correct me,if I am wrong any Recce officer, please Sir, about the cloth ammo belt.
    The quick reaction of the the reinforcement troops are to be commended,vi-a-vis the close proximity of Gubir Camp at the time of incident.
    The enemy was a better foe at the time,probably, they had chosen an excellant the ambush site, it was a well-thought off and a classic anti-vehicle ambush plan.
    Due to the terrain, it is very difficult to conduct an effective counter attack.If only add on armour were available and could be applied to the vehicles of ATM during the 60s through to the 80s insugency era.This might reduce the casualties during the initial opening of fire during a vehicular ambush (?).Remember the ambush on the vehicles of the Renjer Bn in Lundu,Sarawak and the big casualty inflicted on the PPH convoy in Kroh in the mid 70s?
    There is no quick fix to any ambush problems, except hard training and rehearsals in anti-ambush drills. There is no short cut to succes.Perhaps we could learn from the South African Armed Forces, how they despite international sanctions, they keep on improvising and inroducing new tactics, to counter the threats and defeat a numerically larger Marxis military forces.



  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger mangchikla said…

    perhaps this is him


  • At 12:41 AM, Blogger kamal said…

    sama seperti apa yang ayah saya selalu ceritakan kisah ops Gubir ini...kisah ops gubir ini sentiasa dalam ingatan ayah..sampai bila-bila..

    anak 17326 sjn Rahmat x 7 renjer .

  • At 10:26 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    saya Henry Ongging anak kepada mendiang Renjer Ongging 925353, yang terbunuh di Tragedi Serangan Hendap Jln BIawak Lundu, 26/3/72...saya boleh dibubungi @ 0107878012...Saya memerlukan bahan2 tragedi lundu untuk ditulis. terima kasih.

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger James OA said…

    The army could have deployed mobile qfire base made of long range artillery to cover and suppress ambushes or deter attacks altogether.

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