The Opening Phases of TNKU Rebellion in Brunei Town

Annex E to Part III


1.  On the morning of Friday, 7 December 1962, a code signal was received from MIRI stating that an attack on oilfield installations could be expected at 0200 hours on 8 December.

2. It was not clear whether the attack was to be on the Oilfield installations at MIRI or SERIA, but as a result of discussions between the Commissioner and the Head of Special Branch, the OCPD BELAIT was called to BRUNEI, where a Conference, attended by

The Commissioner of Police
Head of Special Branch

was held.

3. At this Conference instructions were given for all Police Stations to be fully manned from 1800 hours on 7 December, and that vital points in the Oilfields area were to be guarded from the same time.

4. In addition, road blocks were to be established, at 2200 hours at TUTONG, SENGKURONG, EDINBURGH BRIDGE and MILE 4, BERAKAS ROAD.

5. Guards were to be placed on the ISTANA and the area where the houses of the MENTERI BESAR and the STATE SECRETARY are situated.

6. At approximately 0145 hours on 8 December, a report was received from a radio car that two lorry loads of men had crashed through the road block at Mile 4, BERAKAS ROAD.

7. At approximately 0155 hours two lorry-loads of men arrived in front of the Government Buildings and stopped.

8. An armed Police party, headed by the Commissioner of Police went towards the lorry to find out what they were doing. As this party approached the lorries they drove off at a high speed in the direction of the Mosque.

9. Consideration was given to sending a Police Party after them, but it was decided that these might be a decoy and no action was taken, apart from standing-to all men.

10. At 0200 hours all the lights in the town were extinguished due to the switches in the Power House being pulled.

11. At 0205 hours noises were heard from the padang in front of the Police Station and a Verey light was fired. This revealed two groups of men totalling about 350, charging in the direction of the Police Station from the direction of the Post Office and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. A red Verey light was then fired which was the signal to open fire. The attack was repulsed and by the light of further Verey lights it was seen that injured persons were being removed from the padang.

12. Desultory firing continued until daylight. As soon as it was full light, Police parties under the Commissioner went to clean up pockets of the enemy in the area of the garages near the Government Buildings, after which the Power House was re-taken. When the Police party was returning from the Power House a column of TNKU, with European hostages, was seen moving up JALAN SULTAN towards the Civic Centre. The Police Party was directed towards this place, took up positions and stopped the column. The leaders were informed that unless they obeyed Police instructions immediately they would be fired on both by the Police party and from the Police Station. They offered no resistance and were marched to the Tennis court in front of the Police Station where they were disarmed and incarcerated.

13. During the night attacks had been launched on the ISTANA commencing shortly after 2 a.m., but these were repulsed. Police reinforcements under OCPD BRUNEI were sent to the area at approximately 0400 hours. Reports were also received of attacks on the MENTERI BESAR’s house and reinforcements sent there captured 16 uniformed rebels.

14. A message was cleared to KUCHING by Police radio at 0350 hours stating that BRUNEI TOWN Police Station had been attacked and that certain other Police Stations were not answering radio/telephone calls and must have been presumed to have fallen. This message was directed to the Commissioner-General’s Office in SINGAPORE.

15. Information was received from the Confidential Secretary to the High Commissioner that she was unable to reach her office having been turned back by a party of rebels. Telephone calls to the High Commissioner’s house remained unanswered, and therefore, the Commissioner with a party of armed Police, went to the High Commissioner’s house. On arrival there it was discovered that the Private Secretary/ADC was under restraint. He was released, and his guards were taken into custody. He was not maltreated.

16. At 0800 hours a meeting was held in the COMMISSIONER’s of POLICE Office, at which the

Commissioner of Police
Head of Special Branch
The Deputy MENTERI BESAR and
The Confidential Secretary to HE The High Commissioner,

were present. The MENTERI BESAR requested that the British Government be requested to supply troops and he was asked whether this request was made with the concurrence of His Highness the SULTAN. The MENTERI BESAR stated that this was His Highness’ wish, and a signal was despatched to SINGAPORE, by Police radio requesting five companies of infantry.

17. The Commissioner of Police, JESSELTON was also asked what reinforcements he could supply under the Mutual Aid Agreement and a platoon of the NORTH BORNEO POLICE MOBILE FORCE was offered, and accepted. This platoon arrived in the afternoon 8 December, by requisitioned aircraft.

18. At approximately 1000 hours information was received that an outboard was at the ROYAL BRUNEI YACHT CLUB, with wounded police personnel on board. It was instructed to move to the CUSTOMS Wharf where an ambulance would be sent. This outboard contained reinforcements which had been sent from TEMBURONG at 2100 hours on 7 December, and which had been ambushed close to TEMBURONG BAZAAR.

19. Telegrams were received from SINGAPORE through the CONTROL TOWER at BRUNEI AIRPORT stating that two companies of 1st/2nd GURKHA Rifles were being sent, to assist in maintaining law and order, and would arrive at approximately nightfall. Arrangements were made for two sections of the NORTH BORNEO PLATOON to guard the Airfield and to keep it clear for the aircraft landing. A further section was sent to guard the Power House to keep it in operation.

20. During the day communications were maintained with KUALA BELAIT and PANAGA Police Stations, but SERIA, TUTONG SENGKURONG, MUARA, TEMBURONG and the JERUDONG PRISON failed to answer and were considered to be in Rebel hands. In addition it was discovered that LIMBANG was not replying to telephone calls and was also believed to be in enemy hands.

21. As a result of information given by the MANAGING DIRECTOR of the BRUNEI SHELL PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED, an attempt was made during the night of 8th/9th December, to send a Company of the GURKHAS to PANAGA to reinforce the BELAIT area. This Company ran into an ambush at TUTONG and sustained casualties and was so prevented from reaching KUAL BELAIT. This Company was withdrawn to BRUNEI TOWN on the morning of 9 December.

23 (sic). At approximately 0400 hours on 9 December, concentrated fire was opened on the Police Headquarters from the Government Buildings. In the course of moving to perimeter defence positions the GURKHAS suffered a number of casualties.

24. At approximately 0430 hours the firing slackened and a patrol was sent out to check the Government buildings. When it was about 25 yards short of the Building it came under heavy fire and sustained further casualties. The second Company of GURKHAS were then instructed to move down from the Airport to clear the building from the rear.

25. The Battalion Headquarters and the remainder of the GURKHA Battalion together with further supplies of ammunition arrived during the course of 9 December.

[Source TNA: WO 302/2519, transcribed by]