Incident near Minyak Beku
As background, Fearon’s account for the 16th of January states:
Just after dawn, a report was received from 1Platoon to the following effect. A large Chinese junk had crossed the mouth of the river moving south and had failed to answer recognition signals flashed by the Platoon. Following the junk were two British rmed sloops, so the platoon commander thought that all would be well. However, the junk proceeded serenely on its way, the leading sloop turned up the river and the second sloop turned west towards Sumatra and as far as the platoon commander could see, no challenge had been given to the junk.
The platoon commander was ordered to watch the junk carefully and report anything further. A message timed at 0830hours contained the next information. The junk had sailed past the lighthouse and landed about 60 enemy to the south of it.
Almost immediately action was joined with them and 1 platoon found itself under fire from left and rear. A lengthy engagement followed, with eventually 1 platoon withdrawing to a position about 1.5 miles nearer Batu Pahat and stabilising its line there. In the action one platoon truck was lost and three soldiers were killed.
From Richardson’s account for the same day:
Gilchrist and I out on patrol looking for our launch and bumped into advance party of Japs! We ran like hell back to tell Proctor. The worst part of it is that there were two Royal Navy vessels serenely patrolling the coast, both visible while Japanese were pushing inland. (In fact, the vessels were presumably Japanese leap-frogging down the coast. Gilchrist, Charles Ross (Volunteer) and I went on patrol and were fired on by light automatic fire. Our chaps, and a few Gerwallis (Indians) found near end of road; beat it back towards Batu Pahat; new position about 4 miles. I took message back to Major Fearon by motorcycle. Returned with message to Proctor and met Pollock on the road in last stage of exhaustion.
Turned round very hurriedly because Japanese were close behind, only some 50 yards! Beat it back to Batu Pahat to give message to Capt Hoffman. Pollock has a slight flesh wound on abdoman; not serious. Very lucky indeed that I met Pollock or I should have sailed into the Japanese!
Two Platoons of Indian soldiers with Nunelly, Newton and Holland took up positions along Minyak Beku Road. I guided them into positions along the road. All motor transport to new park along F. R. Road. We stayed there all day.
All our Volunteer transport and stores fell into Jap hands, but later on our truck minus about one third of our stuff, was returned by a Leicester soldier.
Results: Our party was heavily attacked by Japs with machine guns and other light automatics. We scattered and ran. All returned except Dobson (dead, shot twice through the head).
Gilchrist and Spencer missing, Pollock and Sgt Collins have light flesh wounds and so have two Gerwallis. Most of these returned.
Fairly heavy bombing and machine gunning over Ac. Ac positions at our H.Q. Later moved to take up a new position. Sentry with Cpl Reeves (Haggis) 0001 – G200. Uneasy time because lots of cattle moving about like people. Do not like taking up positions after dark.
From Walter’s diary entry for the 17th of January (probably should have been the 16th):
0500 Chinese junk (Tongkan) seen at lighthouse Naval patrol vessels (2) did nothing. Tongkan did answer signals
0600 Richardson & Gilchrist meet enemy.
0700 moved back 2-3 miles cut off. Lost Gilchrist and one other. 1 killed 3 wounded (total strength 14). I went to base in Batu Pahat.
Further detail of events near Batu Pahat is based on an interview by Audrey Holmes McCormick conducted with Charles Ross, a Volunteer with the Independent Company, who said:
“Pollock saved my life at Batu Pahat….actually a tall, lanky man, he was a Scot, and his wife was from Biggar….I was on the down side of the road and the Japanese had a machine gun covering the road….so I shouted to Pollock, “How the hell am I going to get over the road – there is a machine gun!” So he said he could see it – he would give them a strong burst “and as soon as I shout ‘Now!’ – Go!” So he silenced the Japanese gun for a short time, shooting the Lewis (gun), and I got across. ”
 Fearon Diary, p41.
 Note: later in Richrdson’s diary he says ‘no news of Spencer and Gilchrist even after news of P.O.Ws in other camps became available. Probably killed – 17. 4, 1943).
 Audrey Holmes McCormick co-authored ‘Moon Over Malaya: A Tale of Argylls and Marines’ about the Malayan Campaign.
 Email, dated 2/07/2009, from Audrey Holmes McCormick to John Pollock. Audrey Holmes McCormick has interviewed a number of Volunteers and has an interest in the Perak River Patrol.This entry was posted in Uncategorized