The whole area where we were, was then policed for garbage and litter, the officers will ensure nothing is left except our foot prints and tyre marks. We were soon back in Taiping.
The dog’s handler was Ranger Nathan, an Indian, from the Rangers Corps, originally from Ipoh. He was with the combat Tracker Team based at the Army Combat Training Center in Ulu Tiram, Johore, originally set up by the British Forces, almost all dog handlers are Non Muslims in the Malaysian Armed Forces.
He was attached to the Special Forces (Commandos) team, they were tracking the enemy, when Ben, the tracker dog detected the enemy, the Communist Terrorists opened fire, in the ensuing firefight, 3 of the enemy were killed. Ben was hit, managed to pull itself to Nathan, placing it’s paws on Nathan, looking up at him and breathed it’s last. Nathan just hugged Ben and stayed still as the firefight continued. Messages were sent to the Army Combat Training Center, that Ben was killed.
Some how or rather there was a mix up, Ben the dog was evacuated along with Nathan back to Ulu Tiram. The whole of the Army Combat Training Center stood down to honour the dead. As the helicopter was landing, all the Officers and soldiers, led by the Commandant raised their hands to salute the “dead”. They lifted the dog out, quickly followed by Nathan, who returned the salute very smartly. The moment the Commandant saw Nathan he quickly muttered something to the Adjutant and everyone dispersed.
The message was misunderstood, they thought that Nathan was the one who fell in the firefight. Meanwhile, the message that Nathan was killed reached his sister’s house in Ulu Tiram and his mother in Kuala Lumpur. The sister and his brother in law had funeral arrangements already made. Nathan knew there was a blunder, not realizing that he was “dead”! After clearing his weapon and ammo, and the dog Ben, he clambered aboard the 3 ton truck for a lift to his sister’s house, where normally he spends his off days.
He reached his sister’s house, the first person to see him was his brother in law. His bother in law fainted on seeing him. He attended to his brother in law and went into the house, where he saw traditional Indian oil lamps lit for a Hindu funeral. Mourning soon changed to joy. His mum had the good sense to telephone the house half way to Ulu Tiram. When she got the message that Nathan was alive and well, she turned around and went back to Kuala Lumpur. Whenever we meet up, we used to laugh about this unforgettable incident.
There was also excitement, an underground shooting range was discovered by members of my squadron, a first, as no one had ever come across one like that. The bad news was that one of the leaders, Corporal Adnan, of a booby trap clearing team got blown up, not critically injured. My unit moved in to the area to start dismantling all the equipment, the whole area was inventoried and cleared under less than five hours.
The operation ended, we were told that there that the area of operation and the infrastructure used by the communists had been neutralized.