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(Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A)


Author: Bill GIBSON (52A)


Thought to have been published in OBAN circa 1956/1957





PERHAPS one of the main advantages that Army service has over civilian life, is the multiplicities of jobs that one is called upon to perform. Coupled with this, ingenuity plays an important part in the make up of any soldier.


   Certainly one of my more recent jobs can neither be termed an everyday event nor was it straight forward. I refer to building a road through dense and terrorist infected jungle, not to mention the myriad animal life, and natural discomforts that one so quickly becomes adapted to.


   To be factual, whilst this recount of recent happenings is not primarily to be about myself, but rather the mission, it does help to know that I am attached to the famous Gurkhas stationed in Kuala Lumpur, affectionately known to most troops as “K.L.”


   Now our particular L.A.D.1 helps to keep the 50th Gurkha Field Engineering Regiment fully operational, and the job that was set them last January, along with the 410 Independent Plant Troop R.E., and the 68 Squadron Gurkha Field Engineers, was to shorten the route to Kemayan by 150 miles. This short cut could be attained by literally bull-dozing one’s way through thick undulating, often swamp land and torturous terrain, being no mean feat for any would-be masters of the jungle. The distance necessary to achieve our purpose would need to be only twenty miles, but without the skill, machinery and down-right tenacity of the servicemen who took part, it may well have been two thousand!

  1. Light Aid Detachment.


   There was another good reason for such a road, and that was to be of assistance to the Security Forces in their job of fighting the remainder of the Communist terrorists who are still active in many places. As far as we were concerned, this was looked upon as one of many occupational hazards!


   Suffice to say that despite this gigantic project and the resulting organization and co-operation required between all concerned, the road was completed in record time.


   The site chosen for the initial thrust forward into the jungle was a lonely spot near the village of Bahan in the State of Negri Sembilan. It was not long before the dull-dozers led the way, thrusting everything to one side that impeded their advance. Only the confrontment of huge, tall trees did they hesitate and then only to call upon the Gurkha Engineers to assist in removing the centuries-old remnants of vegetable matter that had for so long stood up against the ravages of nature, and now in their dying hour obstructed the path of progress.


   Indeed it was only a matter of weeks before, reminiscent of other adventures and battles against nature, “FORWARD CAMP” became a realization.



   Following in their turn, along came the scrapers and graders followed by the road-rollers until, what had started out as a mere path of seemingly aimless destruction, now took upon itself the majestic grandeur of a completely finished road surface, seeming somewhat out of place in such unusual surroundings but nevertheless able to compare with the best of ‘em back in Blighty.


   The material used for the surfacing was Laterite, which conveniently enough was excavated wherever it could be found.


   If you have ever watched the ways of ants in their singular purpose of mind, couple that with the dust, often mud, and always torrid heat, plus the background of terrific mechanical noise, then you begin to get an impression of what it was like.


   Perhaps the noise during working hours contrasting against the noises of animal life permeating from the all-encroaching jungle at night will remain as the most vivid impression.


   Certainly our working moments back at the main camp were amply filled in nursing the strained and frequently broken pieces of machinery, that despite their grunting and snorts, had seemed to take life in this pursuit of man and now come back for second wind. Our “surgery” may not have followed the idealistic pattern associated with an ideal situation, but then this was no ideal setting. All repairs were undertaken in the open

which meant that following torrential rain, an arena of mud became the scene of our personal battle in restoring the mechanical might for further combat. Where ingenuity and “Heath Robinson inventiveness” fell short, then so did the machinery, discarded like a reluctant warrior deprived of his freedom until help could be obtained by spares sent in from “way back.”


   Our after work hours were taken up in reading, playing cards, darts or peculiar enough – table tennis! No one was allowed out of camp after dark, which was hardly a restriction as there was nowhere to go anyway!


   As a treat, once in a while we were allowed a trip to the pictures at Behau on a Sunday morning, but even this sparse gesture of civilisation lost its glitter in having to take arms and ammunition with us.


   In seemingly no time at all, the toil of the, for the most part National Service machine operators and drivers, plus the prodigious efforts of the Sappers in bridging gaps etcetera reached a satisfactory conclusion.


   This conquest was accorded the finishing touch of a Parade and an Opening Ceremony which attracted quite a large crowd, the photograph serving to record this event of the new road linking Ayer-Hitam with Kemayan.


   For myself it was back to civilisation again, taking with me many very happy memories of an event in my service career which I shall never forget.


22794007 CFN. W. GIBSON, R.E.M.E.



Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal Presentation.


There is an update to follow Bill Gibson's account and it is shown in the following photographs, taken on the 12th of April 2007, at a ceremony held in Perth, Scotland, when Bill was presented with the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal by Colonel M Tajri Alwi, a serving officer with the Malaysian Army, based at the Malaysian Embassy.

Photographs contributed by Bill GIBSON 52A 


Bill Gibson 52A receiving the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal.


The Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal and Citation.


Bill Gibson 52A with his Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal and Citation.



Bill Gibson has contributed a collection of photos to the web site.


View from HERE.




First Published: 15th May 2007.

Latest Update: 1st March 2013.