Trevor STUBBERFIELD 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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
contributed by Bill GIBSON 52A
Bill Gibson 52A receiving the Pingat Jasa Malaysia
The Pingat Jasa
Bill Gibson 52A with his Pingat Jasa
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.