War against Sukarno

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The Limbang Raid

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Salleh bin SambasShortly after the start of the Brunei rebellion began in December 1962 in the town of Bangar a number of government officials had been held hostage and then murdered. Following this the up-river town of Limbang was also seized  by the rebel forces led by Salleh bin Sambas. He ordered his men to arrest a British resident and his wife who lived in Limbang as well as other hostages. All the hostages were all soon to be hanged. The task of rescuing the hostages was given to Captain Jeremy Moore's L company Royal Marines. Moore would later command the British forces in the 1982 Falklands War. Brigadier Patterson gave Moore some simple orders " Release the hostages" Moore was informed there were about 150 rebels at Limbang and was given a map of the area and a 10 year photo of the town which did not show all the buildings. He realized that a cautious approach to the target would be useless because the rebels would be informed of the approach of the Marines and the hostages would be shot. Instead he decided on a direct assault on the town from the river at dawn using 2 commandeered cargo lighters operated by Royal Navy crews. The Navy Commander of these lights was Captain Black who would also serve later in the Falklands war as Captain of H.M.S. Invincible.

cargo lighterAt dawn the next day the 2 lighters rounded the river bend below Limbang.  All surprise was lost due to the noise made by the boats engines. The whole town erupted with gun fire aimed at the boats. As soon as the fire fight started the leading lighter beached near the Limbang police station where most of the heavy machine gun fire was coming from. The other lighter held back giving support fire with a Vickers machine gun. A RN officer aboard her , when asked by QMS Cyril Scoins  if he could pull the craft out of line to give the Vickers a better fire position, replied: " Sergeant Major, Nelson would have loved you ". Two sections of Marines disembarked from the first lighter and immediately Marines started to drop, hit by rebel fire. Marines were also hit in the support boat. The Marines, once ashore faced a 30 yard dash under heavy fire. Two were killed in the leading craft and the coxswain wounded. Lt. Davis was also wounded as he jumped ashore leading No5 troop.

Marines on lightersThe leading assault party had already sustained serious casualties from a single, very accurate machine gun and a great number of shot guns which proved lethal at close range. It was decided to land a second assault party to help the first 2 sections. As the second lighter neared the shore line they took more casualties from enemy fire coming from the police station. Once more marines had been landed, the battle swung in the Marines' favor and the machine gun in the police station was finally taken out. The Marines now moved though the town house clearing and hunting the rebels who had not much fight left in them. The race was now on to find the hostages before they were executed.

wounded MarineMoore, who was in the lead assault boat was delayed getting ashore when the boats Royal Navy helms man was hit and the boat started to drift back into the river. When Moore finally did get ashore he headed straight for the town hospital were he thought the hostages might be held. On arriving outside the hospital they heard a very loud nervous voice singing " They'll be coming round the mountain when they come " This was the British resident singing at the top of his voice to make sure the Marines did not shoot him, thinking that the rebels were in the hospital. Moore found all the hostages alive and well, their captors had run off.

wounded MarinesA small fire fight had occurred outside the hospital in which 2 Marines and Sergeant MacFarlane  were killed. Moore had to give command to 2 new troop commanders to carry on clearing the town of rebels. The Marines started house to house clearing, killing or capturing any rebels still left in Limbang. By the end of the battle 5 Marines lay dead and another 8 were wounded. L company later became known as the Limbang Company with the anniversary being celebrated annually by 42 Commando as " Limbang Day ". Captain Moore received a Bar to his Military cross ( won during the Malayan Emergency ). Clps Lester and Rawlinson were awarded Military Medals and the RN personnel who manned the lights were also decorated for their bravery on this day.


 

I would like to dedicate this Website to Sergeant MacFalane and the other four Royal Marines who died in the assault on Limbang in the hope that their sacrifices will not be forgotten.

The Royal Marine Memorial at Limbang

The Royal Marine Memorial at Limbang
Image courtesy of Once A Marine, Always A Marine

In Memory Of The Men Of L Company 42 Royal Marine Commando Killed in The Assault On Limbang Sarawak On The Morning Of The 12th December 1962

Sergeant. Walter. Grant, Macfarlane. RM.
Marine. Gerald. Kierans
Marine. Fred. Stewart. Powell
Marine. Ronald. David. Formoy
Marine. Richard. Jennings
R.I.P.

TAKE THESE MEN FOR YOUR EXAMPLE.
LIKE THEM, REMEMBER THAT PROSPERITY
CAN BE ONLY FOR THE FREE, THAT FREEDOM
IS THE SURE POSSESSION OF THOSE ALONE
WHO HAVE THE COURAGE TO DEFEND IT.

Recently Dick Murray wrote to us with an up-date on our Limbang story:
For your information here is an update of the events which is now 30 years old. I served with the Air Platoon of  2nd Ghurkha's during 1969/70 at Seria, Brunei (first with 1/2 and subsequently 2/2). I remember preparing a Sioux helicopter for a trip to Limbang on Remembrance Day 1969. This was flown by Lt. or Capt. Parrish and his sole passenger was a Ghurkha bugler (because of the range). Capt. Parrish recounted his trip afterwards to us on his return. They flew in to Limbang and where met by the Mayor and local dignities who then processed with them to the British Military Cemetery where all the population of the town had gathered. At the appointed hour the Bugler sounded last post and after the silence reveille. Mr. Parrish reported that it was a very simple but moving moment.
Dick Murray
We're very grateful to Mr. Murry for passing on this information for us.

Arthur's note : If you were one of the Royal Marines or a member of the Royal Navy party that took part in the Limbang assault, I would very much like to hear from you. I have had very little information to use while writing this page so please feel free to correct me on any of the above I may have stated wrong.

Also See
Limbang Raid, official after action report and map
Limbang Raid
Official After Action Report 
and map
Pictures of Limbang raid
Pictures of Limbang Raid 
Never seen before 
pictures of the Raid
Once a marine, always a marine
A big thank you too Tony for the use of the Limbang Memorial image above. Tony runs Once A Marine, Always A Marine
The Royal Marines Home Page Designed to give as much information of this  Elite Corps, which a anyone might like  to know... or any Service enthusiast. Please click on the image above to visit the best Royal Marine site on the net

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