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Ambushed Soldiers, Malaya

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he will made a statement regarding 22204837 Gunner C. M. Bailey, who was ambushed, together with three other young soldiers, and killed by Communists near Mentakab, Malaya, on 19th January last.

This soldier and three other gunners were killed on the afternoon of 19th January while on military duty in aid of the civil power. A party of civil officials and police, with a detachment of soldiers as escort, was travelling in two vehicles along a road which, in the area mentioned in the Question, passes through thick jungle. The vehicles were travelling together but became separated, and the second vehicle was ambushed by bandits as it neared a road bend. Their opening bursts of fire knocked out the driver and overturned the vehicle. The bandits then murdered all the occupants, except one seriously wounded civilian, who was left for dead. After searching the bodies, stealing all available weapons and setting fire to the vehicle, the bandits withdrew.

I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my sympathy with the families of the victims of this brutal outrage.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this 19-year-old soldier joined up on 5th May last year, that he had had only five months' training, had his embarkation leave in September, embarked for Singapore on 5th October and arrived there on 4th November; that, in a matter of a week or 10 days, he was actually taking part in jungle warfare; and does he really consider that this boy had had adequate training for such an operation?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is completely misinformed.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, completely misinformed. The facts are as follow. The four soldiers concerned were all Regulars. Two of them had had six months' service before disembarkation in Malaya and a further two and a half months' and nine months', respectively, since disembarkation. Of the remaining two, one who was 23 had had four and a half years before disembarkation and a further two and a half months in Malaya, and the other, who was 19½, had 13 months' service before disembarkation and another 13 months after.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the vehicle to which he refers was a proper vehicle for carrying out these duties, and whether there is a shortage of armoured and protected vehicles in Malaya at present?

On a point of Order. As I have letters from Gunner Bailey himself to his parents and grandfather, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter at the earliest opportunity on the Motion for the Adjournment, in order to bring the facts to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman and the House.