Category Archives: malaya

Captain Gilchrist #FWW #Folkestone Old Cemetery

Captain Robert Crooks Gilchrist the youngest son of Brigadier-General Robert Alexander Gilchrist, Indian Army, was born in Aurungabad, Deccau, India on 24 June 1878. Robert educated at Dover College and the Royal Military Acadamy Sandhurst where he passed with honours. Gazzetted to 2nd Lieut Indian Army in 1897 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1897 and Captain in 1906. At first appointed to the 33rd Punjabis and then the 46th Punjabis. He went on to serve five years with the Burmah Military Police and took part in two frontier expeditions. He was awarded the kings Police Medal for his service in the Burmah-Chinese Boundary Limitation Commission.  At the outbreak of the war, he was attached to the 59th Scinde Rifles and was killed in action at la Bassee on the 19th December 191. De Ruvigny’s state ” while leading a storming party up a German Sap under heavy fire.” De Ruvigny’s also quote from a letter sent by Major TL Leeds, who probably wrote the extract from the 59th Scinde Rifles reproduced below the photograph. The letter from TL Leeds reads

“Your son was killed yesterday morning while leading a storming party in a night attack on the German trenches. He was was most gallantly leading a storming party up a German sap under heavy fire when he was hit in the head by a rifle bullet and killed at once.” Roberts former commander also sent a letter of condolence to the family in which he sid, “I have never heard anything but the most kindly mention…” (quoted in De Ruvigny’s)IMG_8317Capt Robert Crooks Gilchrist’s memorial on his father’s grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery.

From the 59th Scinde Rifles WarDiary for the 19th December 1914

“…Capt Gilchrist went forward too and very shortly came back and asked for support which I sent up. later I heard both had been hit and the people up front hard pressed. I went up the communication trench and found Lieut Scolie who was making must plucky efforts to remove Capt Lee who was dead and Capt Gilchrist who was still alive. They were in a bit of German communication trench from the sap to their main trench. The parapet was not bullet proof and they were being fired on from three sides. Hav. Abdul Wahab with some men was plucky holding the head of the communication trench very close to the Germans. Lieut Kisch RB selecting a plan for a sandbag barricade. He showed me the place he considered best, which I told him to prepare. I told Lieut Scolie to get back Capt Gilchrist who I saw was alive, and to have Capt Lee who I saw was dead, and other bodies, I thought it best to risk no further lives. Capt Gilchrist was got behind the barricade with great difficulty but died soon after. …”

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Malcom/Malcolm Bond Shelley

Malcolm Bond Shelley born 8th July 1879 and educated at Dulwich College and then Cambridge became one of the thousands of able and competent civil servants in the British Empire. He was posted to the Federated Malay states in 1902. Here he became a District Officer,  Acting Governor Straits Settlements 1931, Chief Secretary to the Governor of the Federated Malay States 1933-35. To this day there is a road named after him in Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia. For his services, he was awarded The Order of St Michael and St George, (CMG) also known as Call Me God. Living the normal life of a colonial civil servant, he played cricket and joined the Malay States Volunteer  Rifles  (MSVR). He was with the regiment when he serving as a lieutenant in the MSVR. (1) and others in the MSVR were in Singapore for a months training in 1915.

His being in Singapore coincided with the mutiny by the Indian 5th Light Infantry Regiment. On the 5th March 1915,  Malcolm and his party of theMSVR captured Abdul Razzak one of the mutineers. (1)  This was not to be his only involvement in the events of the mutiny and its aftermath. After the first of the trials of the mutineers, it was announced in General Orders that the MSVR would carry out the first of the executions. Captain Smith, the officer in command turned to  Malcolm and said, “That will be your job.” Malcolm had never convened a firing squad before, nor had most officers in the British Army. He hurriedly read the most appropriate manuals. Those on musketry and King’s Regulations but could find no mention of how to convene a firing squad.  His RSM, who probably did not know either said you need ten men. Ten men were duly chosen and after breakfast, they were given som practice by the RSM. Malcolm rushed to the Europe Hotel where British officers often stayed to try and find out if anyone there knew how to organise a firing squad. No one there knew, but he was told that if the prisoners were not killed outright the officer in charge would have to deliver the coup de grace.  A prospect that Malcolm determined was not going to happen. He decided on three things. The first was there would be no blanks. Secondly, each rifle was going to be loaded with a clip of five rounds. Lastly, the firing squad would be as close as possible, eight paces from the stakes.

That afternoon(23rd February 1915) Two upright wooden stakes were positioned close to the wall. Malcolm marked out eight paces and positioned the firing party.  The Colonel of the Shropshire Battalion then based in Singapore who was the parade’s commander spoke to him and the firing squad was moved a further two paces away from the stakes. The two condemned men, Dunde Khan and Chiste Khan.(3) were then led out and positioned in front of the stakes, they were not blindfolded. The sentences were then read out. Instructed to carry out his duty Malcolm saluted the colonel with his sword and gave the order to load. One soldier was very nervous and dropped his clip. After the order to fire was given one of the condemned men slid to the ground. The other remained standing and staring at the firing squad. It must have seemed like an eternity, but Malcolm quickly gave the order, “Left hand firing party, aim, fire.” and the second Indian soldier fell to the ground. The Medical Officer examed the body. There were ten bullet holes in the chest where the heart was.  The condemned man had died as a result of the first volley after all. There was another bullet would in the neck. One of the right-hand side of the firing party had fired wide.(4)

The Japanese newspaper, The Japan Times on the 19th March 1915,.carried a report on the executions under the headline, “How Singapore Mutineers Died. Two Publically Shot After Court Martial for Murder- A Grim Example.” The report and Malcolm’s memory are in broad agreement. Although the report states it was Scottish Troops who formed the firing party. In the early 1920s when the volunteer units were reorganised there was a Scottish Company. Not known if this company was just formed then or was a descendant of an earlier company in the MSVR

Malcolm Bond Shelley died 27th July 1968 in his home at Littlehampton in Sussex

Notes.                                                                                                                                                                                     Thanks due to Madelaine Kirk for background information about MB Shelley

1.    p798  Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                        2.p649Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                    3.Note 25 p237 The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers and the Two World Wars: Between Self and Sepoy. By Gajendra Singh                                                                                                                          4.p798-817 Secret Documents of the Singap[ore Mutiny 1915 Dr T Sareen.                                  5. p844.

 

 

 

#FWW WWI WW1 Reading List 2017// Wish List Reblog

Three books deleted from the list, none added. An addition to the list of Material

Books

Anthony Milner The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya

Charles Townshend, When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914–1921,

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Material on Henry Wade

Material on Soldiers embarking from Folkestone

Material on the Singapore Mutiny

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Information on Ireland in FWW, just general things.

Information about the sailors on SMS Emden.

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Thank you for reading my blog. Likes, comments, Ignores, all appreciated.

A Little Campaign Lost in A Great war.

In April 1915 an old man with a beard went to pay his land tax. Tired of waiting he went home and urged the peasants who looked up to him and admired him by following suit and doing the same. The event started a rebellion.

The place was Kelantan in Malaya. A new tax had been introduced in the Unfederated Malay States by the British. It was a “Land” Tax Land ownership would now be taxed. The tax was to replace the tax on produce. What the land produced and the quantity now no longer mattered. The new tax was not explained it was just imposed. On page 27 0f (7) Kheng, Cheah Boon points out  that John Maxwell the acting Colonial Secretary blamed  the Kelantan Government for not pointing out the differences and the benefits of Land registration. The Malay peasants around Pasir Puteh seemed to think it was an addition, not a replacement. Like people everywhere they were probably not happy about taxation but paid anyway. When a local worthy said basically, I’ve had enough, not waiting any longer to pay tax. I’m going home. People followed. On the 29th of April.(1)  A police serjeant Che Wan, was dispatched to arrest To’Janggut-the man with the beard and investigate reports of a planned attack on government buildings in Pasir Puteh.  To’Janggut then allegedly killed the police serjeant by stabbing him in  the neck with his dagger.(2) The attack on Pasir Puteh led by To’Janggut and Ungku Besar, a local feudal lord went ahead the next day.(3) The police station was raided and prisoners released. Some of the prisoners joined the rebels. Perhaps they were forced. Others just went home. Other government buildings were touched. someone then requested help from Singapore. the “Who” is not clear. So far we have looked at a brief overview of the initial events. Cheah Boon Kheng’s book, To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. does exactly what it says on the tin. We are left to make up our own minds. To’Janggut was a Muslim who had been to Mecca. Going to Mecca is one of the obligations of a Muslim. so the first question that arises is,”Was he radicalised?” Doubtful there seems to be no record of him being anything. he was wealthy. We know that because he went to Mecca. There were no cheap flights or boats back then. He  was though a landowner. For the first time, he now had to pay tax. Killing or at least being involved in the killing of the police serjeant would have put him on the wrong side of the law. Almost certainly he would have been hanged for this.  The next question that arises is, “Why did he kill the police serjeant?” The answer is who knows? Kheng’s book indicates it may have been for revenge. To’Jangget’s father had apparently run off with one of the Sultan’s concubines and, the Sultan had him killed. In all probability, To’Janggert had wanted to pay the land tax. It seems strange to have gone with the intention of not paying, and the police serjeant was killed during the arrest attempt.  So the next question is was this a riot or a rebellion? the involvement of Ungku Besar who was a feudal lord suggests it was a rebellion.

So why then? The attack was a few months after the Singapore mutiny which was quelled with the help of non-empire troops. Ungku Besar may have thought there were not enough British Troops in Singapore to spare and the 29th April was an opportune moment.

Who asked for help and why. The simple answer is only the Sultan could have asked for help. He could ask because the District Officer asked. The British Adviser “Asked” that would be tantamount to an order. Or the Sultan asked off his own bat. The next question is why? The Sultan would have had enough levies under his command to deal with a riot or minor rebellion. Perhaps the answer is the Sultan was hedging his bets. With the new land Tax the Sultan for the first time had to pay tax too. If there was the slightest chance of the rebellion succeeding he had more than anyone something to gain. With this in mind, he would have been quite happy for the Malays to think he had to ask for help. Farrer the political Office doest think the Sultan was implicated. ( Page 27 of (7) )

The British Response.

Ten planters (4) Messrs Templer, McPherson, Haughton, Stephens, Green, Belton, Gardner, Bone, Osbourne, and Dobson, joined together. along with the labourers from the Taku estate marched to hunt down some of the rebels. The group were armed with 4 guns, rifles, revolvers and parangs (a machete-like, long knife) That night they marched fifty miles over one night and three mornings to intercept rebels they thought were heading to Kamuning. Returning disappointed that no one had had the chance to use their parangs.(4)Meanwhile, the wifes of the British officers were evacuated to Siam. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915 printed an article probably written by the Acting Colonial Secretary for the Straits Settlements John Maxwell on the 29th May 1915. 22 Malays and Sikhs had taken the earth road to Gunong from Kota Bahru to intercept rebels heading to Pasir Puteh but were recalled shortly after their arrival.This must have happened on or about the 30th April. The same article mentions the Tinggi estate bungalow owned by a Mr Marks had been looted. the only recorded wounding of a European was when a certain Mr Morrison stumbled on a beach and shot himself. This is also mentioned in the article.

The SS Calypso arrived with 250 Malay States Guides at Kota Bahru on the 5th May. The same day HMS Cadmas arrived off the coast and nearly 239 Officers and men from the RGA, RE and the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) (6) plus 20 Malay policemen landed from her(5) and occupied Pasir Puteh.  The KSLI waited at Pasir Puteh for nearly two weeks before returning to Singapore,  waiting for the rebels to attack. It was an attack that never came. Page 71 of To’Janggut: Legends, Histories, and Perceptions (1)  mentions a Royal Navy Warship fired 4-inch shells over Pasir Puteh, circa after anchoring off the coast near the mouth of the Semerak River. It is not known if this was HMS Cadman or exactly what date, or why,  this incident occurred.The rebels fought a series of Hit and Run engagements mostly with the Malay States Guides but no large-scale actions. On the 27th May, the Malay States Guides attacked about 50 rebels and killed them all, including To’Janggut included. To’Janggut’s body was hauled to the banks of the Kelantan River and strung up by the ankles for the local people to see.(5) This battle is described in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (6) as occurring on the 24th. Major Borton and a force of 60 Sikhs and 7 Europeans pursued 50-60 men to a village about 4 miles from Pasir Puteh. The men were able to take cover behind trees and fences. Major Borton’s force fought in the open from the padi-fields. The Major’s forced charged the Malays fled. Three bodies were picked up plus one wounded Malay. To’Janggut’s body was later buried just across the river from the site of where it was hung. Photographs still exist of the hanging and are easily found on the web.  The Campaign in Kelantan was over.

The Campaign was an Imperial sideshow. Largely ignored in the narratives of the Great War. Its significance is it was a successful counter-insurgency campaign in the jungles of South East Asia. The British Army was to spend over a third of the next hundred years fighting other counter-insurgency campaigns and wars in other parts of those jungles. 1928  Terengganu, 1942-45 WW2, 45-46 Vietnam, 45-46 Indonesia, 47-49 Sarawak, and 48-77 Malaya, to name a few.

More details of the politics of the rebellion can be found in. (7)

Notes, Sources, References.

(1) To’Janggut: Legends, Histories, and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. from page 110,  By Cheah Boon Kheng (Web, https://books.google.com.my/books?id=2n6LhfSDVnwC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=tok+janggut+The+attack+on+Pasir+Puteh+police+station+(1915)&source=bl&ots=F5FfIR2qYk&sig=wtyn9tpqa_FfRxNHkJ7N1X4GQ88&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bdljUo_xOYWJrQeXuYGwCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=tok%20janggut%20The%20attack%20on%20Pasir%20Puteh%20police%20station%20(1915)&f=false.)

(2) other accounts claim the fatal wound was caused by a spear.  The dagger would have been a keris.This weapon is more likely as it was a weapon normally carried.

(3)page 110 To’Jangget : Legends…

(4) CM Hawksley PhD Thesis, Administrative Colonialism Chapter 6. University of Wollongong 2001.

(5) http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/2012/06/some-early-rebels-against-british-rule/

(6) The Kelantan Outbreak The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915, page 10

(7)   Kheng, Cheah Boon. “Hunting Down the Rebels in Kelantan, 1915: The Sultan’s ‘Double Game'” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 68, no. 2 (269) (1995): 9-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41493643.