The Brunei Revolt

THE BRUNEI REVOLT

Annex D to Part III to
COMBRITBOR PERINTREP No 3

EVENTS 8 AND 9 DECEMBER 1962
BRUNEI AND TUTONG

1. Background 8 December 1962

At 0500 hours on 8 December 1962 1/2 Ghurkha Rifles received a Warning Order to have a small Force Headquarters and two Companies (referred to as Initial Force) ready to move to BRUNEI for Internal Security duties by 1600 hours. At 0930 hours the force was ordered to be ready to move as soon as possible, and by midday the whole Battalion was ordered to move as aircraft became available. Force Headquarters and one Company reported to SELETAR by 1230 hours, and the first chalk from there took off at 1500 hours 15 minutes after the follow up troops of the Initial Force had left CHANGI. The Main Body left during the evening and night 8/9 December.

 

2. The directives given to the Initial Force and Battalion Commander, made them responsible for assisting the Civil Administration in the maintenance and restoration of law and order in BRUNEI (and in the latter case SARAWAK also), working under the direction of the Commissioner of Police BRUNEI (and in the latter case KUCHING). Attention was drawn to the pamphlet "Keeping the Peace".

3. In the original Intelligence Brief it was stated that the BRUNEI Police Station had been attacked by a crowd of 100 at first light on 8 December. After the Initial Force had left a further Intelligence Brief revealed that there had been 1 Police and six rebel casualties.

4. Arrival BRUNEI 8 December

The first troops to arrive were a platoon of D Company from CHANGI (see paragraph 1) who touched down at the airfield LABUAN at 1900 hours. They reached the Police Station some 30 minutes before the Force and C Company Commanders with two more platoons. BRUNEI Town was quiet.

5. Briefing

The Force Commander was briefed by the Commissioner of Police and Deputy High Commissioner as follows:-

a. The Police Station had been attacked at 0200 hours on 8 December by approximately 300 armed men after an electricity cut.

b. There had also been attacks on the ISTANA and the MENTRI BESAR’s house.

c. All attacks had been repelled.

d. At first light the Police recaptured the Power Station and undertook mopping up operations, enemy casualty 11 killed, 24 wounded recovered.

e.The following areas were now defended by Police:-

(1) The Airfield
(2) The Police Station
(3) The ISTANA
(4) PANAGA and KULAL BELAIT Police Stations

f. A report had been received that an enemy force was moving to attack BRUNEI Town from LIMBANG by river, estimated time of arrival within 90 minutes.

g. Curfew was in force in BRUNEI Town.

    6. Tasks

    The tasks given to and agreed by the Force Commander were:

    a. Recapture the SERIA oilfield area, relieving PANAGA Police Station.

    b. Secure BRUNEI Town.

    c. Restore law and order in the State.

      7. By 2300 hours the Force Commander had under his command C Company Headquarters and two platoons, and two platoons of D Company who had arrived in small packets from the Airport in the dark.

      8. BRUNEI TOWN – Initial Action 8 December

      Mobile reconnaissance patrols were sent out into BRUNEI Town to enforce the curfew, one platoon of D Company was sent to the ISTANA, the other was deployed in defence positions within the Police Compound and C Company Headquarters and platoons were kept as mobile reserves.

      9. At about 0030 on 9 December information was received that the rebels were to attack PANAGA Police Station, using Europeans as hostages. As reinforcements were expected within 2 hours C Company was sent off in requisitioned transport at 0100 hours with orders to:

      a. Shoot their way through SENKURONG and TUTONG (both said to be occupied by small rebel forces)

      b. Take ANDUKI Airstrip at first light

      c. Relieve PANAGA Police Station

      10. C COMPANY – TUTONG 9 December

      At 0100 hours C Company moved off in 4 Public Work Department vehicles with a Land Rover and trailer in the middle. They passed a road block and the enemy held SENKURONG Police Station without incident. A party of rebels dropped their weapons and raised their hands a little further on and were bypassed. A further road block was encountered and two rebels who raised their weapons were killed in passing. On reaching TUTONG Police Station enemy fire was opened on the convoy, and returned. The convoy sped on, and whilst passing two blocks of two-storey tenements (shop buildings overlooking the main road) were subjected to very heavy enemy fire from above, which was returned with equal vigour. The Land Rover driver was hit and crashed into a monsoon drain. The remainder of the Company, not knowing this, kept its way on. Company Headquarters took up a defensive position in the verandah of the enemy occupied building and having recovered the wireless set, carried the two wounded men to an open fishmarket further down the road as a second defensive position, in the meantime having captured one armed rebel. Attempts by rebel and C Company patrols to find them during the night failed and Company Headquarters was relieved at first light.

      TUTONG was taken that morning against little opposition, rebels digging in on the high ground above the Police Station fleeing on the first sight of troops in the distance. Two badly wounded rebels were found, who both have since died, and later captured rebels confirmed that 7 were killed and between 14 – 28 wounded.

      11. Force Headquarters – BRUNEI 9 December

      At about 0200 hours a man was reported to be crawling up a monsoon drain near the Government Building and a patrol was sent out to investigate. Up until this time everything had been quiet in BRUNEI Town. A few minutes later heavy fire broke out from the Government Building and the Post Office area. Fire was immediately returned by the patrol and police and troops in the police station, and half the platoon remaining in the Police Station moved quickly to the NORTH EAST side of the Police Compound perimeter. In doing this 1 Officer and 4 [other ranks] were wounded. Shortly afterwards a man returned from the patrol to give a location report, and the Force Commander and three men evacuated it by Land Rover. The patrol had been fired on at about 25 yards range from Government Building, and casualties were 2 Officers and 4 wounded, of which 1 Officer and 1 Lance Corporal later died. Enemy casualties are as yet unknown except that a lot of blood was found later on the verandahs in the Government Building. (See paragraph 13).

      12. D Company – Arrival and Action 9 December

      In the meantime D Company Headquarters and two platoons had arrived. D Company Headquarters with one platoon reached the EAST end of the Government Building during the fire fight, and stopped in order not come under fire from own troops in what they presumed was the Police Station. Having established communications with Force Headquarters D Company made known its location by flashing the headlights of the leading vehicle. No town maps were held by the Initial or Main Force. D Company was ordered to clear the Government Building from the EAST, at this time the position of the patrol from the Police Station not being known. The platoon had just started doing this when it was fired on from behind, and turned round to deal with the new threat. At the same time a patrol in jungle green was seen some 200 yards NORTH crossing the road along which D Company had come. With the possibility that it might be the patrol form the Police Station it was not engaged. D Company was then ordered to remain in its present positions till first light, about an hour later, and then to clear the town. At first light they did this – by first clearing the buildings EAST towards the river and then SOUTH towards the BRUNEI HOTEL. Fourteen prisoners taken in this part of the action turned out to be police and were later released. At the same time the remaining D Company platoon arrived from the Airport and was ordered to clear the Government Building. This part of the action was completed by 0715 hours (with 4 prisoners taken). By 0900 hours the whole action was completed, the following buildings having been cleared and sentries posted on the rooftops and top floors.

      • Chartered Bank
      • Government Building, covering Radio BRUNEI
      • Post Office
      • Telecoms Centre
      • Power Station
      • River Front
      • Brunei Hotel

        13. Enemy killed during the night 8/9 December in BRUNEI Town by police/military action has been assessed by Special Branch to be 24 minimum.

        14. Action BRUNEI 9 December

        Battalion Headquarters and the remainder of the Battalion, less A Company which had flown straight to MIRI arrived throughout the day, starting at 0900 hours. The Initial Force Commander, with the Acting and Deputy High Commissioners, brought the SULTAN from the ISTANA to the Police Station where he stayed before moving to the Government Buildings on 10 December. C Company was ordered to return to BRUNEI Town, the defence thereof now being priority 1, and arrived at 1500 hours with 106 prisoners and suspects. B Company was deployed in the NORTHERN part of the town, including EDINBURGH Bridge, and C Company in the SOUTHERN part with rooftop sentries on the dominating buildings, thus controlling the whole area including the water front and the bridge leading to the Residency. The defence of BRUNEI Town was complete and law and order restored.

        15. The enemy, estimated to be 300 – 500 strong, did not again attack the town in force though several small attempts to do so were severely dealt with during the night 9/10 December.

        [Source TNA: WO 305/2519, transcribed by www.arcre.com]