A Scary Incident for the RAF at Kroh
I was an aircraft electrical fitter on 209 Squadron based
at RAF Seletar in Singapore 1959-1962 . We crewed "Twinpins" (twin
pioneers) on detachments up country - Borneo, etc. and the
"single" pins even farther abroad. At some date during my tour( I
simply can't remember when) we had a mad rush to prepare
two twinpins for a detachment "up country" . We (5 fitters)
travelled in one twinpin with the spares. We landed at I think Taiping (The HQ
of the first Battalion Royal New Zealand Regiment) . The pongoes
were predominately Maori , we settled in and went to the "entertainment
complex" (big bar with stage) and proceeded to get incredibly
pi...plastered .The soldiers appeared to be in a jolly mood, there was much
slapping of backs and drinking of warm "Swan Lager" . We (the RAF)
were simply refered to as "The Airforce Blokes" not "Pomms"
or "Brits" just "Airforce" which we found very friendly..
After a pint or three the entertainment started, we were asked to sing ,
. My colleages were all northerners and insisted on singing
"On Ilkely Moor Baht Tat", but I being from London sung a rather
delightful yet little known solo number entitled "The're
Digging up Farvers Grave to Build a Sewer",, to moderate applause...One
of the kiwis was getting married , he made a speech which went on a bit..
Outside there was a pond covered in duckweed which was used as a swimming pool
especially by one pongo who had a broken arm still in plaster. The
next morning nursing hangovers we breakfasted on mutton and loaded up I think
about 15 - 20 troops into our twinpins. The troops wore
jungle green kit with I think blue hatbands, they carried F.N. rifles &
Sterling sub m/c guns & grenades ,. I don't remember seeing mortars or
heavy m/c guns etc. They had big packs (backpacks) and smaller belt
packs..... We landed at Kroh which is on the Malay/Thai border, it had a
town/kampong on the left and scrub/ulu on the right.. We thought it was a bit
unusual because an armoured car was wheezing and groaning up and down the
streets on patrol, but we were of course unarmed and didn't expect any
trouble. The soldiers sat around for a bit looking bored, and during
that time one of the pongoes swung his big pack down and injured a cat, one of
our blokes, an airframe fitter corporal (see my photo, standing behind me with
thumb in pocket) attempted to "put down" the unfortunate animal with
a shovel assisted by a kiwi sergeant. The kiwis had a kit inspection and sauntered off across the
field towards the ulu. We serviced and refueled
our aircraft and awaited the NAAFI van..,,,no NAAFI van instead the
"Salvation Army" turned up in one of those purple coloured vans.
The "Sally Ann" lady then started dispensing char and wads to us
airmen..........Suddenly one hell of a commotion broke out, "bang
popopopop boom etc.!" ,it seemed to go on forever, rifles, sub m/c guns
& grenades were being used ! All in our earshot and quite close to the
airfield ! We cringed heroically and said to the "Sally
Ann" lady "they are shooting, they are shooting !"
She just said "Yes yes and you wanted a ham roll ? " She
wasn't too bothered ! She departed and we prepared ourselves to go..
I remember one of our team running out of the twinpin to ask one of the
returning kiwi sergeants "what happened ? " He answered "
we got five ". We
flew off as puzzled as I remain to this day, you see I don't know if
"got five" means five c/t's five lemons or five toes !
Of course I have asked,, other NMBVA members have been very helpful (
especially Paddy Bacskai God bless him !!) but they can only
guess , the nearest guess is that it was a S.O possibly a
"ruse" to assist other troops who were in difficulty (the area was
Malay Reg. responsibility apparently) I wonder if other NMBVA members have any clues ,,if so please
e-mail me and
please attach PHOTO'S if you have any.
- I have since
heard via an ex-C.O. of 209 Sqdn Sqdn. Leader Cess Crookes
who wrote " I did know of the "fire fight" at Kroh.
It was before my time, but I understand the Police Field Force
were chasing Chin Peng the C.T. He eventually reached safety in
Bentong, across the Malay/Thai border, so Chin Peng and
other C.T. commanders with him managed to get away".
Martin Shelvey North
Kent/South East London Branch
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another story by Martin