Southerners at War
Volunteer Clive Locker was stationed at Ipoh from 1957 to 1959 with 1st Battalion, B company, embarking on deep jungle patrols in search of enemy MRLA.
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He saw plenty of action and spent years replaying an incident in which he and his platoon were ambushed.
After scouting for and finding an enemy camp, British bombers were called in.
Locker's platoon fell back during the assault before heading to the camp, climbing up a ridge to survey terrain.
''There was bush in front of us and it was rather a funny feeling, here we were standing on top of a ridge and we could hear the communists talking.''
The platoon dug in overnight and next morning worked their way through dense bush to a clearing.
But the CTs (communist terrorists) – "clever buggers'', Clive says – were gone, leaving behind one supply pack.
Soldiers fanned out, moving across the clearing and up a hill on the other side when a CT popped up, fired and disappeared.
Another CT, who tried to retrieve the pack, ran into a hail of bullets and was killed.
The platoon was ordered to track the MRLA but found a downward sloping jungle path deliberately blocked with a tangle of roots: an ambush.
Mr Locker says he spent years wondering why he and others weren't killed that day – they'd run into CTs with at least two machine guns, which opened up on 4 platoon.
He decided the enemy probably ran out of ammunition, relying on tracer rounds.
"It had me for years – why didn't they kill us?
"They were experienced fighters. The firing just stopped and nobody was there, they'd all gone.''
The sally was a success – the pack left behind contained strategic information indicating the CTs were considering an end to jungle fighting, switching tactics to concentrate on urban areas.
- © Fairfax NZ News