Captain (Rtd) Datuk Patrick Augustine was a second generation Spanish / Irish, born in Bangsar, raised in the Imbi Road area, and retired to Taman Tun Dr Ismail, laughs when people tease him about his heritage of Irish temper and his Spanish loving traits. “Not that I can lay claim to this heritage,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. Subscribing to the Royal Ranger’s motto that, “As long as there is life, there is fight,” Augustine has been fighting battles, almost all his life. At 18, he already knew where his destiny lay. Right there in the swamps, in the jungles and in the hills of the country, particularly in Negri Sembilan where he had his first posting in the National Service.
“ There’s not a single hill in Negri Sembilan that I have not climbed, a swamp I’ ve not crossed or a jungle that I have not trekked,” he declares with a tinge of pride. As the 60 year old Army Veteran showed his collection war memorabilia, he lovingly fingers a revolver sheathed in leather casing. It’s his favourite piece.
It was still the Emergency in 1955 when Augustine completed his schooling at S John’s Institution and volunteered for training in the security forces. Six months later, he was appointed a Permanent Staff Instructor (PSI) and posted to the Negri Sembilan Homeguard Organization. As a PSI, he had to lead jungle squads as well as other homeguards based in new villages in anti-Communist work. The tricky part about being a PSI was having to spend nights in the village command post which was manned by the home guards from last light to first light. Sometimes the communists would come and take away their guns. Some villagers were communist sympathizers and it was the responsibility of the PSI to control the situation.”
Wouldn’t anyone as young as he was be afraid? He must have been very brave. He shakes his head and leans back in his chair. “Of course I was afraid. But I believe bravery is to be afraid and still do what you have to do.” He attributes his fighting spirit to his father who was a sergeant in the Federated States of Malaya Volunteer Service and the first local to become Chief Superintendent of the then EPF Post, a position previously held by British personnel. “My father was a man of few words, but every word he said, he meant.” Having a nurse for a mother, Augustin’s family finances were stable enough and though he had to share things with his seven siblings, he was never deprived of basic comforts.
In his 19th year, Augustin was attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welch Fusiliers, a British Army Unit based in Tampin. The battalion later relocated to Tampoi in Johor. While the Tactical HQ was in Tampoi, they carried out jungle operations and FRA (Full Restriction Activities) duties in places like Skudai, Pekanans, Yong Peng and Labis. To deprive the communists of food, the government organized communal cooking in the villages and it was their duty to ensure that no food got out to the Enemy. “We were also ready to aid the civil power in any rioting, We were taught to handle firearms and other weapons and learned tactical warfare, like how to lay ambushed, track down the Enemy and overwhelm them.