The True Facts of The Battle for Plaman Mapu, Borneo 27 April 1965 and the Men Who Fought It.
6 Platoon, B Company, The Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment
By Gil Boyd BEM
Those 36 men present at the action plus attached personnel.
ELEMENTS OF HEADQUARTERS SECTION:
Officer Commanding: Captain Jon Fleming.
Company Signaller Pte Roger Hayes.
Company Clerk Pte Alan Parslow.
Artillery Officer: Captain (Capt) Webb.
Mortar Platoon Commander: Capt Nicky C Thompson (Wounded in Action (WIA) - Wounded in both legs) visiting location.
Company Sergeant Major (CSM) Warrant Officer 2 (WO2) John ‘Drummie’, Williams DCM (WIA - Wounded in the eye) later renamed ‘Patch.’
RAMC Medic: Corporal (Cpl) Dave Ridsdale.
Army Catering Corps: Cpl Ray Collier (WIA – Wounded slight shrapnel).
Private (Pte) Tony Cadd.
Colour Sergeant Bert Goodhall.
SUPPORT COMPANY ATTACHED TO B COMPANY:
MORTAR PIT ONE
Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) Ian McKellar (WIA on trying to get to assist his mortar crew, he died later in Singapore Military Hospital of his wounds). Mortar Platoon, Support Company (Mortar Pln, SP Coy). Buried Sec 14, Kranji Military Cemetery, Singapore.
Pte Henry ‘Harry’ Smith (Killed in Action (KIA) on the way to man his mortar Pit) Mortar Pln, SP Coy. Buried Sec C11, Grave B14, Kranji Military Cemetery, Singapore.
Pte Len ‘Nobby’ Clark (WIA trying to get to the mortar pit and wounded with small arms round which went through his arm) Mortar Pln, SP Coy.
Pte David Chadwick (WIA - Wounded with severe trauma to ear drums as a result of blast injuries) Mortar Pln, SP Coy.
MORTAR PIT TWO
Pte George Averre - Mortar Pln, SP Coy.
Pte Alan Main - Mortar Pln, SP Coy.
Pte Les Thornton - Mortar Pln, SP Coy.
Sergeant (Sgt) John “Piggy” MacDonald – Mortar Pln, SP Coy (ex Machine Gun Pln).
B COMPANY PERSONNEL
Cpl Malcolm ‘Jackie’ Baughan MM.
L/Cpl Robert 'Bob' Harris.
Cpl George ‘Taff’ Parry (WIA - Wounded).
Pte Michael ‘Mick’ Murtagh MiD (WIA - Wounded left arm with WO2 Williams in the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) position).
Pte John Kelly (WIA - Wounded in the head at GPMG stag position).
Pte Bart Flint.
Pte Willy Taylor.
Pte Barney Fields.
Pte Mick Morgan.
Pte Les Simcock.
Pte Paddy McVeigh.
Pte Brian Cooke.
Pte Neville Farmer.
Pte Lee Foster.
Pte Bill ‘Geordie’ Laing.
Pte Gerry Davies.
Pte Walter ‘Wally’ Beard.
Pte Peter Wilkinson.
Pte Bob ‘Punchy’ Watkins.
Pte Paddy McAvoy.
Pte 'Gilly' Galbraith.
Pte Tom Flowers.
On the 31st of December 1964 a recall went out to all members of The Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) over the Christmas break, to return to barracks by no later than 1200 hrs on the 1st of January 1965.
They soon learnt the reason for the urgent recall. 2 PARA were operationally deployed to carry out an intensive six week Jungle Warfare Training course in Malaya, prior to being dispatched to Borneo in response to President Sukarno of Indonesia’s threats of invasion, which was intended to de-stabilise the new state of the Malaysian Federation and the whole region.
Following this training at the end of February, elements of 2 PARA had been dispatched to reconnaissance (recce) the forward operating bases along the border of Borneo and Indonesia. By March the Battalion had moved in total to Borneo. A Company (Coy) was deployed to Nibong on the eastern flank, with D Coy in the centre at Gunan Gadjak.
B Coy was deployed to takeover Plaman Mapu on the western flank from the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who had laid out the camp in what they perceived to be a fortified location, a mere 1800 metres from the Indonesian border.
The Coy location was on a slope of a small hillock, with a valley running on both its sides, with higher ridges and mountains looking down on the isolated position. Two sandbagged and fortified 3” mortar pits were positioned outside of the immediate Coy trenches, but within the perimeter wire, and manned by elements of SP Coy two teams of four. The north facing mortar position was protected by two Iban trackers armed with pump action shotguns and a Malay Interpreter armed with a Sterling SMG, who were positioned in a trench next to the pit.
The company location would have been constructed completely differently, had it been built by Parachute Regiment soldiers, where, no doubt Claymores and other anti personnel devices would have been deployed in vulnerable areas where attack was likely.
The first thing that B Coy and its attached elements did under Company Sergeant Major (CSM) ‘Drummie’ Williams (later to be nicknamed Patch due to an eye injury from the battle) was to cut back even further the jungle touching the barbed wire strands at its perimeter. This exposed for the first time a good clear line of fire on all sides of the location, and would expose any enemy at the earliest opportunity if an attack was to be repelled successfully by the lads in their stand to positions.
Within hours the Coy had implemented and deployed ten day fighting and ambush patrols into the jungle depleting the overall strength at Plaman Mapu to 36 men plus attached personnel. These patrols were however essential in meeting the insurgency challenge head on in the jungle on the Borneo side of the border.
It was known by those in the location that they were being observed by Indonesian Forces from well prepared observation posts around the higher ground on the Indonesian side of the border.
They had a clear view of the manpower depletion in the location, which was passed onto their command structure, which quickly produced an attack plan, with what they perceived to be, the best time to launch an overwhelming attack against these 36 men and attached personnel.
They thought this would be a decisive win over a ‘crack’ British Parachute Regiment unit, and produce a moral lift for President Sukarno and the Indonesian cause!
A fact not commonly known or written about previously, was that on the 25th of April, two evenings before the attack, the officers and senior ranks of the Coy were invited down to the local Kampong by the village elders for an ‘acquaintance’ meet to the new residents of Plaman Mapu, with the exception of a couple of senior ranks who remained at the location.
Of course our reasons, as a new military unit at a location for meeting the local people, would have been solely from a ‘Hearts and Minds’ perspective, and one that we could thereafter use cement their support in the future.
However, was this planned invite to perhaps unseat the professional leadership of Plaman Mapu by offering intoxicating drinks, with an attack originally intended for that next morning? Who knows but clearly a missed or poorly executed opportunity on their behalf!
The night leading up to the attack which started at 0505 hrs on the 27th of April, had been a very dark and wet one. The continuous monsoon rains hitting the leaves and jungle foliage, would have adequately covered the noise of an approaching force, had they been a well-trained formation. One has to experience personally the noise of heavy rain on the jungle floor to fully understand the noise levels it produces. There was a clear build up of movement by the enemy days before the attack, so the guys at Plaman Mapu knew it could end up as a confrontation, how right they were!!
Luckily the noise they made could only have been made by humans or a herd of elephants. This identifiable noise was noticed firstly by Private George Averre in his location of the GPMG post whilst on stag, which was closer to the Coy boundary with the jungle.
He raised the alarm at 0400 hrs by calling the Command Post of his suspicions on the portable field phone, but the Operation Commander decided not to react to this call. Pte Averre finished his stag and handed over to Pte John Kelly. As Pte Averre came off stag, he had just got his head down, as the attack started with the sounds of Bangalore torpedoes going off to take out the thick barbed wire perimeter fence at the North West edge of the location. They had crawled up to the perimeter wire unnoticed utilising the dead ground.
Two of the crew of mortar pit one, consisting of Pte ‘Nobby’ Clark and Pte Dave Chadwick were asleep in their bunker, with Pte ‘Harry’ Smith outside. They were awoken by a direct hit from a Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) onto their accommodation as it collapsed on them. They were dragged out by Corporal (Cpl) ‘Jackie’ Baughan and Pte ‘Mick’ Murtagh, and once released attempted to get to the mortar pit via the connecting trenches.
It was at this time that Pte Smith was killed by accurate small arms fire, while fighting their way to the 3” mortar pit and Pte Clark was also hit in the arm. Lance Corporal Ian McKellar who saw what was going on, was mortally wounded as he ran down from the top of the location trying to join them. Their unoccupied mortar pit then took a direct hit, and it was lucky that they never actually reached it.
The Indonesians were attacking on all sides of the company location with heavy incoming fire.
CSM Williams who was off stag and asleep at the time, woke up with a start, he realized what was happening, leapt out of his bunk, grabbed his Sub Machine Gun (SMG), boots and webbing and got dressed more or less on the move.
As he emerged into the wet monsoon rain from his bunker he ran straight into one of the lads, Pte Kelly who had been on stag at the GPMG position that had just taken a direct hit from what they believed was an RPG 7.
He was shell shocked and dazed with his head in a mess, with blood running down his face exacerbated by the driving rain as he wandered around aimlessly. He suddenly became alert and screamed as he waved his SLR at the sleepy CSM shouting, "They're in the position, they are in the bloody position” as he cast his blood stained eyes on CSM Williams he shouted "You’re one of them" and pointed his SLR directly at his stomach.
CSM Williams disarmed Pte Kelly and ordered another Tom to get the injured soldier to the aid post, which was the cookhouse at the top of the hill.
CSM Williams then made his way to the command post where he received a quick brief from Capt Fleming the company commander, and immediately set about in his head, organising a counter attack with the remainder of Lieutenant (Lt) Thomson’s menof 6 platoon.
As CSM Williams gathered the men and they set off across the open ground to confront the enemy penetration at their strongest point, an explosion occurred, which appeared to land in the middle of the quick reaction force, seriously injuring Lt Thomson and about half of the men.
Undeterred by this, CSM Williams led the remaining 4 men across open ground to engage about 30 to 40 Indonesians who were advancing from the other side of the camp. He was armed with a 9mm Sterling Sub Machine gun. By this time he truly had the bit between his teeth seeing his men being injured as he advanced firing from the hip, cutting down the swarms of Indonesians as they entered his killing ground.
Cpl Baughan, realizing what his CSM was trying to achieve gave him and his men effective support fire.
CSM Williams shouted to his Quick Reaction Force (QRF) "Anyone in front of us is the enemy, so keep going but watch yourself". What followed was again some of the most deadly close quarter fighting of the conflict in trying to repel this large attack by a determined enemy.
They realised immediately that if they did not push the Indonesians back from their positions inside the wire they would be dead men by the morning. They persevered with grit and determination and pushed the remaining enemy off the hill back into the jungle. It had been a short but bloody battle on both sides.
CSM Williams now started to re-organise an all-round defence, but before this order could be properly achieved, the enemy launched a second attack on the same position they had just been removed from using sheer weight of numbers.
CSM Williams, seeing that only a heavy amount of firepower would stop this new prolonged attack, jumped into one of the abandoned stag position bunkers closer to the jungle edge and found one of the abandoned GPMGs still in working order, where Private Kelly had been located before being wounded. He and Pte Murtagh managed to lace several belts of ammo together and then opened fire on the advancing Indonesians. When the Indonesians saw the GPMG delivering a hail of accurate fire, they attacked the machinegun in overwhelming strength.
Within minutes the full onslaught had commenced and was making ground within the compound.
The unoccupied mortar pit was then briefly captured by the enemy, who were instantly ejected in a deadly close quarter battle of exchange in small arms fire, where professional British Army training proved the winner and with the tenacity, determination and outstanding bravery of Cpl Baughan and his section supporting him.
Many of the enemy were subdued at this point trying to break through the barbed wire at various points on the perimeter, but by the fierce and unweilding delivery of accurate GPMG and small arms fire from both Pte Murtagh and CSM Williams and the others with them, they managed to stem the flow temporarily.
It was at this time that both Pte Murtagh and CSM Williams received shrapnel injuries, resulting from either a direct strike on the radio set sat on the sandbags, or the GPMG as it received a direct hit from a round. This shrapnel entered CSM Williams’ left eye, and Pte Murtagh’s arm.
This injury to CSM Williams later necessitated him wearing a patch over his blind eye, receiving the nickname ‘Patch’, which replaced his previous nickname of ‘Drummie’, having been a drum Major earlier in his service.
On a number of occasions as the waves of Indonesians tried to achieve some form of a foothold within the location, more links of 200 rounds were joined to deliver a wall of lead directly to the enemy numbers trying to break through the defences by the GPMG.
Pte Murtagh on one occasion remembers having to run out into the open, under heavy fire, to locate and recover any unopened cases of linked 7.62mm rounds he could find. He also recalled finding it increasingly hard to climb back up the wet muddy slope of the company location through driving rain to collect any unopened ammunition tins.
The enemy had realised on the recovery of intelligence from previous recces, that the wire at Plaman Mapu was thick in places, and from this, it was therefore clear that they had intended to use Bangalore Torpedoes to remove some of this barbed wire fencing quickly to enter the location in vast numbers and overwhelm those inside. They never got to use them on that side of the defence perimeter. However, they were used to breach the wire at the North West edge of the location and effectively managed to enter the location in large numbers at the outset of the attack.
This is where other GPMG fire had the desired deadly effect, where arcs were traversed and cut across and where every rule in the book was lost, due to the lack of right and left of arc posts being placed in the location before the attack begun indicating the gunner to switch fire. In some cases 2 PARA’s fire was directly over the heads of its own troops and extremely close to their locations, and many Toms (soldiers) did not know what was happening at the time, but due to the close proximity of the enemy, this fire had to be effective on their behalf, so on occasions appeared to be firing directly at them.
The whole of the location was divided into four sections, each holding a GPMG, each intended to cover an arc of all round defence.
The enemy had penetrated the wire defences on the North corner of the location, and from there they tossed a number of grenades into the trenches, which were later to be found as blinds, either badly prepared and not armed or had elastic bands still holding down the handles. A fact never reported on before, was the strategically placed hand grenades with their pins removed and elastic bands holding down their levers placed against key areas, such as the Command Bunker, the cook house and the water tower. Who placed them there, was the south side of the location entered without anybody’s knowledge during the battle? These were all found the next morning.
Many 50mm inertia grenades launched from Armalite Rifles the insurgents held outside the perimeter, caused some direct hits on the bunkered accommodation. Luckily these positions had been vacated by an early stand to, avoiding many casualties.
Several of these grenades were found buried in the ground later, some being normal blinds and others had plastic protective caps still covering the fuses, which showed the lack of proper military training to arm them correctly.
Pte Les Simcock was located on the east side of the slope, in a firing position looking into the jungle. They were receiving heavy fire from within the jungle boundary, but it was obvious the main thrust of the attack was the North to North West corner of the location using the dead ground effectively.
Pte Simcock remembers when daylight came, that the foliage had been decimated by rounds being fired from within the jungle and into it, and also he could see large numbers of the enemy still moving around in the brush as the light improved.
He also remembers vividly, that due to the heat in the 4 man bunkered accommodation with its bunk beds, he and many of the other lads laid out in the open to sleep in their kit rather than to put up with the continual presence of rats, and the obvious feeding frenzy daily by visiting Pythons in their endeavour to cull the rising infestation in the accommodation areas.
Pte Simcock even witnessed the snakes sliding across the parachute silk that helped to cover the mud accommodation from flies and the sunlight, making the toughest man realise there were residents already at Plaman Mapu that should be avoided.
When the attack started, it would normally mean full kit on, with webbing and ammunition, and all things listed in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). However, when previous reports have been written on the battle, it states that men slept with their boots on, this could not have been further from the truth and reality.
Some of the men had their blue gym shorts on and their physical training (PT) pumps on their feet, due to the continual rains and mud in the firing trenches, likened by many to the trenches of the First World War, with the inherent risks of enduring serious debilitating medical complaints to the feet, from the continuous wearing of the wet canvas jungle boots would cause, added with the extremes of heat as well.
Strong enemy fire continued from mainly the North West corner of the location which had been cut back even more of its foliage and natural cover when the Coy took over from the Argyll & Sunderland Highlanders.
Due to the shape of the hillock and the sloping sides, personnel deployed on either of the forward slope could not see what was happening on the reverse slope and vice versa, and relied heavily on the wired portable field phones to keep communications throughout the battle.
Suffice it to say, those not on the North West side of the location where the initial attack was made, knew exactly what was about to occur. The entire encampment appeared to be surrounded, but with a devolved enemy leadership on other sides, as they had concentrated more or less in one place at the North side, they therefore did not achieve the same success of breaching the perimeter wire elsewhere.
Regardless of many comments made at the time or since, this attack had been closely and professionally planned by the enemy. The dead ground chosen by them for their attack on the North West corner was on a convex slope where our own deliberate fire would have gone over their heads as they approached, and could only have been used or even spotted by a physical recce on the ground. It would not have been seen or recorded by an enemy observation post.
Unfortunately for the enemy, they did not expect to come across 36 determined and highly trained Paratroopers. They used the dead ground on the approach to the location correctly as any trained soldier would, and from there, they should have had the initiative and won the fire fight and taken Plaman Mapu easily.
This ground in my view from all the intelligence records I have examined was recce’d prior to the attack by specified ‘civilians’.
As the enemy pressed forward with considerable courage and determination, through wire and other lethal obstacles, their dead soon littered the ground at this point. One enemy soldier was seen applying a tourniquet to his leg and then tried to continue his advance to contact, but was met by a deadly barrage of small arms fire and killed on the spot.
Others that had been hit were seen to being dragged back into the undergrowth, and those left as dead on the location had their weapons recovered in a professional manner by their own retreating troops. Bodies left on the location were found to be Javanese soldiers, wearing olive green (OG) clothing and OG jungle hats. They had no markings or unit identification on their clothing whatsoever, much as we did when operating in jungle operations.
Long before the daylight broke on the location, 2” para illumination mortars were being fired up into the air to illuminate the enemy attack, by Cpl Collier one of two attached Army Catering Corps cooks. It was clear to all on the location, that he had received limited or no training on this mortar and its true capabilities, with the latter being most probable.
He through his own initiative illuminated the location and his own troops rather than using the wind drift and the driving rain to illuminate the enemy instead in the jungle to silhouette them at an early stage. This showed great initiative with the best intentions however.
During the attack, the remaining 3” mortar pit lead by Pte Averre with Alan Main and Les Thornton working as number 2 and 3 respectively, produced some withering and accurate fire on the enemy who had penetrated the wire at the north end of the location. He and his crew had the presence of mind to remove the secondary charges from around the tail fins of the mortars which would cut down the time of flight for more accuracy, firing on primary charge only. They had never tried this before and were unaware if it would be successful.........thank God it worked. A number 1 on the mortar always needs two outstanding guys in support, and to this end his numbers 2 and 3 worked their socks off, preparing the mortars in a timely manner. Some 600 mortar rounds were fired in a two hour period by this team.
He quickly realised that the mortar on its normal full elevation was going to be ineffective, as the enemy had got too close to their position. He then made the decision to hold the barrel together with the tripod in an elevation which can only be described as vertical, leaving the tripod dangling, where the bombs fell in his immediate area. This achieved the desired effect and along with accurate small arms fire the enemy withdrew, dragging their dead and wounded with them.
Pte Averre remembers two misfires from the three rounds fired initially, having never had a misfire in all his previous service in the Mortar Pln. These misfires were caused by too much oil being left to lie inside the barrel itself.
When mixed with the torrential downpour, it produced a sludge that reduced the intensity of the rounds sliding down into the barrel and striking the firing pin. However, once this sludge had been eliminated by these misfires, normal accurate deadly fire resumed!
The accuracy inflicted by this mortar team was evident once daylight arrived and the battle had ceased. A gap of some 12 feet wide could be seen through the brush, where a blood stained trail had been made on the wet ground by the wounded and dead being dragged away as they retreated.
The typical strength of a full complement of a Parachute Regiment Infantry Company would normally have been 110 officers and men with attachments. On this occasion Plaman Mapu was manned with a total strength of 36 men including attachments, depleted by the continual patrolling regime required in patrolling the jungle.
What the attackers didn’t know of course, was that the B Coy soldiers fighting them in the main, had been flown into strengthen the location at Plaman Mapu direct from a hurriedly arranged initiation into Jungle Warfare Training in Malaya, and had immediately before that, finished their basic training, and officially passed out at Kota Tingi Jungle Warfare School instead of a parade square in Aldershot!!
In short these young men sent to strengthen the company, with the exception of the officers, senior ranks, and a few experienced old sweats were all recruits............which make this an outstanding achievement.
How well they all performed, and it showed the quality and hard work that they had each learnt from their basic training, to become a Parachute Regiment soldier!! 'surrounded, outnumbered, out gunned'
After Battle Summary:
Some 10 years later, Major Sri Tamigen who led the attack on Plaman Mapu now by then a full Colonel in the Indonesian Army, attended Officer Training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) on a government military training scheme. It was here he admitted that he threw his best Special Force’s Company called “Ben Hur”, at the location to launch the attack, and then two further reserve companies of his Battalion, a total strength of over 400 men, attacking on all sides to try and quickly subdue, the best British unit we had on the ground at the time.
He also stated that from intelligence gathered from their observation posts looking down onto Plaman Mapu, on the days and weeks before the attack commenced, it provided them with an accurate log that there were in fact 36 men plus attachments left at the location when they decided to attack not 34.
Ironically the attackers along with their AK47’s, Bangalores and Handheld Rocket Launchers, were armed with numerous British made Bren guns to lay down the initial fire at the commencement of the attack.
As the sun rose the attack diminished and the rain stopped, it was only then that the enormity of what these few brave men of B Coy 2 PARA had truly endured and could start to be absorbed within the wire.
As Maj Sri Tamigen’s men returned to their base, they became triumphant winners in the eyes of President Sukarno, who was overwhelmed with their achievement and praised them all with an abundance of leave and numerous adhoc promotions, ending with a parade and march past to celebrate the battle on their Independence Day the 17th August 1965.
How misinformed one man could be, as albeit the defences of Plaman Mapu had been penetrated, they were on all fronts repelled, and at no time had the location been compromised. It certainly was not a defeat but a total failure on their behalf. It is known now that the dead were in the main recovered by the Indonesians, and their bodies were thrown into the river below Plaman Mapu to hide the true losses on their return to their leader President Sukarno.
It is clear now that other soldiers at Plaman Mapu should have received awards for their actions, no more so than Sgt John MacDonald and Pte Averre who both at separate times held the mortar barrel in the vertical position for two hours, placing each round where it was needed..
This one act from the opinion of those who were there was that it was a significant factor in repelling the enemy attack saving the loss of the position. I also include Cpl Collier of the Army Catering Corps who continually fired 2” illuminating mortars to keep the location lit throughout the attack who should also have at least received a Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) for his efforts. We too often forget our attached Arms!
I am sure many more men excelled at the battle on different sides of the location, but due to no senior ranks witnessing their bravery, in my view resulted in such a low tally of awards.
Awards for their actions:
WO2 CSM John ‘Patch’ William - The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).
Corporal Malcolm ‘Jackie’ Baughan - Military Medal (MM).
Private Michael Murtagh Mentioned in Despatches (MiD).
TRANSLATION OF THE REPORT GIVEN TO PRESIDENT SUKARNO FROM THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE INDONESIAN KOPASSUS GROUP 2 THAT ATTACKED PLAMAN MAPU - MAJOR SRI TAMIGEN
[He has twisted the truth to read he had taken the position so that he didn’t place himself or his men in danger]
This is the story of the first British SAS soldiers killed by a South East Asian soldier (who of course represented by the soldiers of the Special Forces)
Setting the story was in April 1965, when Indonesia was confronted with Malingsial. Location of the battle in the village of Mapu, Long Bawan, West Kalimantan and Sabah border.
2 Special Forces battalion at that time (now Kopassus Group 2) had just formed. The new battalion was immediately sent to a special mission to West Kalimantan. They landed in Pontianak in February 1965, and soon after that they walk to his post at Balai Karangan a distance of tens of kilometers from the airfield.
Authorship is heading Hall military outpost that before the arrival of the Special Forces guarded by infantry battalions from East Java. Approximately 1 km in front of the post hall Authorship is an outpost of British troops in Mapu village guarded by a company of British paratroopers and several SAS. Struck the post that is the special mission of the Special Forces battalion. Mapu post is often used as a transit for SAS personnel who will infiltrate into the territory of Indonesia. TNI want this to be stopped by directly eliminating the post.
Mapu Britain in the post located at the top of a small hill surrounded by valleys, so this post is very easily observed from a distance. In addition, the post is also quite far from its mother forces are roughly as far apart as 32 km.
Special Forces troops newly arrived promptly prepare every detail for an attack. Special Forces soldiers are selected and then assigned to conduct Reconnaissance missions to ensure the terrain more clearly. They also mapped the post with the details so that it can be a guide for the preparation of the attack strategy, including details of the entry and exit point.
Recon task is very dangerous, given the SAS also routinely make observations to military positions. If both the recon bumped involuntarily, may be there will be firing box that will disperse the plan of attack. Therefore, the Special Forces recon very careful in carrying out its mission. They even wear uniforms Army engineer soldier belonging to deceive the enemy in case they get caught or shot possible in the recon mission.
After a month of preparing for the attack, on 25 April 1965 rehearsal done. Of the three companies that exist in the Special Forces Hall of Authorship post. Battalion commander, Maj. Sri Tamigen, finally decided only company B (Ben Hur) who will perform the attack. While 2 other companies remain in Indonesia for just in case something happens.
In this attack, company B is required to carry a full arsenal. Ranging from AK-47 assault rifles, Bren machine gun, rocket launcher made in Yugoslavia, and Bangalore torpedoes, the latest toy that time the Special Forces, which is typically used to remove barbed wire or mines.
Finished organizing supplies, Ben Hur started to move across the border after the Maghrib. Because very careful, they just got in the Mapu village at 0200 in the morning. After that they immediately set up a position as a strategy that has been prepared and rehearsed.
Mapu postal circle which is divided into four sections, each of which contained a machine gun nest. Outer perimeter is protected by barbed wire, Punji, and claymore mines. The only way to seize this post is pushed into the perimeter and fight at close range. This post showered with bullets from outside the perimeter will not produce anything because the available holes in the post-Ubang very strong protection.
Luckily, that night with heavy rain as blessed nature of the attack, because the sound of footsteps and rain to disguise the movement of dozens of Special Forces commandos who set up positions around the post.
Once divided into three groups, Special Forces commandos split into three predetermined direction. The first platoon will be a focal point as well as the opening attack. The second platoon will move from the other side / ribs and will break down the perimeter with torpedoes Bagalore that Special Forces soldiers could enter into and perform close combat.
At 0430 hours-awaited moment arrived, the center platoon opened fire with machine guns firing Bren into enemy defensive positions. Soon after, two other platoons bangalore torpedoes detonated them and opened the second rib perimeter defense in the post. Dozens of Special Forces soldiers bravely go crashing into the post to find the enemy.
British soldiers are at a disadvantage because it was not ready and was very surprised because they did not expect to be attacked at close range. Especially when the majority of their colleagues were out of the post for the patrol. What remains is the 34 British soldiers. It has indeed been studied Special Forces recon, that there are certain days where the 2/3 power in the post out to patrol or other missions. And that's the day chosen for the attack.
With some difficulty, finally the 34th person is successfully prepared defense. Some Special Forces soldiers who had entered the post should perform close combat stressful. Two Special Forces soldiers were shot and killed. But their colleagues succeeded in infiltrating into and killed several British soldiers and wounded most of the others. The only remaining British troops can stand up to their last bullet discharged because they had been besieged.
The battle itself ended as the sun began to rise. Special Forces soldier who has fully mastered the post Mapu get out because they know the British troops who patrol is back along with British reinforcements were lowered from a helicopter. They did not get to take prisoners because it was feared would hamper their movement rate.
Returning in the post Authorship Hall, Ben Hur Company was greeted with joy by his colleagues.
THE ISLAND OF BORNEO AND SOME BACKGROUND
Covering an area of roughly 287,000 square miles, Borneo is the third-largest island in the world. It is divided into four political regions: Kalimantan belongs to Indonesia; Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia; a small remaining region comprises the sultanate of Brunei. Located southeast of the Malay Peninsula and southwest of the Philippines, Borneo is primarily mountainous, with dense areas of rain forest. The highest peak in Borneo, Mt. Kinabalu, stands at 13,455 ft. With a generally hot, wet climate, rain is more common than not, with some portions of Borneo receiving between 150 and 200 inches of rainfall annually. Between October and March, monsoons buffet the island.
Given the abundance of rainfall, it makes sense that Borneo's flora is among the most diverse in the world. Borneo has nearly 11,000 species of flowering plants, about a third of which are indigenous. How dense is the vegetation? In one 16 acre area of Borneo's lowland forest, over 700 species of trees have been recorded. In comparison, there are only 171 native tree species in all of eastern North America.
History and People
For most of the last millennium, Borneo remained isolated from the rest of the world. Located further from Indian trade routes than other parts of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo was less often the destination of traders and immigrants. But in the 16th century, emissaries of Spain and Portugal reached Borneo's shores. Soon after, the Dutch and British arrived, and it was these two latter nations that held power in Borneo from the 17th century into the modern era. In 1949, Indonesia became a foreign state, and in 1957, Malaysia gained its independence. Today, the population of Borneo consists of non-Muslim Dayaks and Islamic Malays, as well as Chinese and Europeans.
Inland, Borneo is comprised of a variety of different native tribes, each distinguishable from others by distinct language and culture. Before contact was made with the West, Borneo's tribes often engaged in wars with one another. Still, the tribes shared a host of similarities, including dwellings, diet, and culture. Today, the Ibans are the largest indigenous group in East Malaysia.
Area: 736,000 sq. miles (roughly three times the size of Texas)
Capital: Jakarta, population approx. 8.8 million
Ethnic groups: Javanese, 45%, Sundanese 14%, Madurese 7.5%, coastal Malays 7.5%.
Religions: Islam, Protestanism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism.
Life expectancy at birth: Men, 60 years, Women, 64 years.
Gained independence: August 17, 1945
Written and compiled by Gil Boyd B.E.M, Trustee & Volunteer Coordinator of Airborne Assault, the Museum of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces, Duxford.
Many people have written about this battle, and have misinterpreted the true facts of the heroism shown by all ranks which prompted me to investigate the real story from the men that were there.
Field Marshall Lord Carver who said immediately after the battle: “The battle of Plaman Mapu and the brave efforts of the 2 PARA soldiers there on the day can be a likened to the defence of Rourkes Drift”
I would like to thank the 2 PARA REUNION Club for allowing me to interview these four men at the Reunion in Blackpool in 2014, who without their first hand acknowledged assistance, I would not have been able to compile the after battle account.
I would like to personally thank Privates Mick Murtagh, George Averre, Les Simcock, Len ”Nobby” Clark and Sgt John MacDonald from their first hand testimony and also the official military documents and records held in the archives of the Airborne Assault Museum.
This is the true record in sequence of that battle, which could only have been possible by the help and assistance provided by these men, who can now in part share their individual stories, each from their own perspective, and therefore assist in any healing process needed after 50 years.
My intention is to try and return with these lads to Plaman Mapu on the 50th anniversary of the battle, on the 27th April 2015 in company with General James Bashall ex Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, to build a cairn to those we lost in a truly remarkable battle, and also visit the graves of L/Cpl Ian McKellar and Pte ‘Harry’ Smith at Kranji Cemetery, Singapore on behalf of GRAVEWATCH.
Gil Boyd BEM
“What Manner Of Men Are These That Wear The Maroon Beret?
They are firstly all volunteers and are toughened by physical training. As a result they have infectious optimism and that offensive eagerness which comes from well-being. They have 'jumped' from the air and by doing so have conquered fear.
Their duty lies in the van of the battle. They are proud of this honour. They have the highest standards in all things whether it be skill in battle or smartness in the execution of all peace time duties. They are in fact - men apart - every man an emperor.
Of all the factors, which make for success in battle, the spirit of the warrior is the most decisive. That spirit will be found in full measure in the men who wear the maroon beret”
Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery KG,GCB,DSO
I, together with Lt General James Bashall organised the return to Plaman Mapu with the three veterans of the battle, and four serving soldiers of 2 PARA for the 50th Anniversary on the 27 April 2015. We held a service at the cairn built on the hill of Plaman Mapu, and on our return to the UK, we stopped off at Kranji Military Cemetery in Singapore, and also held a service there with other UK units in attendance where Last Post was played by Gurkha Pipers.
A very moving and emotional trip for the veterans, and so glad we got to return to both locations to pay our respects.
Gil Boyd BEM
By Gil Boyd BEMRead More