Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Battle Box: Fort Canning - Singapore

I have visited many WW2 sites in Singapore and Malaysia, but nothing affected me the way that the Battle Box did.  While well restored, the underground bunker still retains its period characteristics, and the well constructed wax work figures really help to bring the past alive.  The photo shows Brigadier Arthur Curtis sitting in his office-  he was Commander, Fixed Defences of the Singapore Garrison from 6th July 1939 until the surrender of British and Imperial Forces on 15th February 1942.  His office has been put back togther exactly as it was (thanks to an old photo).

Monday, 17 December 2012

More reviews for 'Merdeka' on Amazon

Many thanks to Robert Grant Stewart and Ian Dee for reviews of 'Merdeka' recently posted on   Extracts from these reviews, other customer reviews and professional reviews can be seen on the Review page of this blog.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Can I Gift a Kindle eBook?

As the festive season approaches I have been asked if people can gift 'Merdeka' as a Kindle eBook to those that they know have a Kindle (or a Kindle App) and might have an interest in reading it.  That depends:  Outside the US Store ( it is not possible to directly gift an eBook and so Gift Certificates have to be used.  I'll tackle in reverse order:

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lest we forget.....

Today is the eleventh of November.  On this day, at 1100 hours, the guns of the first world war fell silent.  Let us remember those who gave their lives in all wars, those who survived, but wounded to the end of their days in heart or mind or body, and those who were bereaved.

Lest we forget....we will remember them!

In many countries the poppy is worn as the symbol of remembrance.  To find out why read the Story behind the Remembrance Poppy.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A great review for 'Merdeka' on the QARANC website

According to a website dedicated to Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC): 

'Merdeka is a military book that smoothly finds the balance between love, history and warfare.' 

The review also states:

The QARANC and RAMC feature in Merdeka and a romance soon blossoms between Alick and a QA Sister serving at the Military Hospital Penang at Minden Barracks..............There is a huge emotional feel to Merdeka and the effects of combat and killing on the young officer, especially following the strange turn of events during the ambush.

To read the whole review visit the 'Books About Army' page on the QARANC website.

For other reviews visit the 'Reviews Page' on this website.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A small boy who grew up behind the wire...

The 'New Villages' were built as part of the British plan to deny food and support to the jungle-based Communist Terrorists (CTs), and to win the 'hearts and minds' of the local people.  The plan worked and helped to bring the Malayan Emergency to an end.  Chinese squatter communities were uprooted from the jungle fringes and forced into the 'New Villages' - where for many the living conditions and amenities were a lot better than what they had left behind.  But the villages were surround by barbed wire, subject to curfews and the inhabitants were randomly searched when leaving.  Outside the wire they were still targeted by the CTs.
Photo from the Straits Times

Wong Yoon Wah is a Poet and has won the Cultural Medallion (Singapore’s highest honour for arts practitioners).  He is the director of the international language and culture centre at Taiwan’s Yuan Ze University and senior vice-president of Southern College in Malaysia.  He was born in Perak in 1941 and lived happily on the jungle fringes until his family was forced into a 'New Village' in 1951.  He was to stay there for 11 years and the experience made a huge impression on him - a child caught between two sides in a conflict.  Read his story in the Star Online.

Veteran of the Malayan Emergency Awarded the 200th Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal

This month Charles Waddington, who spent 9 years in the Royal Engineers, was finally awarded the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal.  He served in Malaya and Borneo for 3 years in the late 1950's/early 1960's.  The 200th recipient of the award, he first applied for it 6 years ago.  The medal was somewhat controversial in the UK as the Government policy on medals did not allow UK veterans to officially wear it until 11th November 2011.  The medal was first issued by the Malaysian Government in 2005, and veterans from other Commonwealth Countries have been able to officially wear it from the outset.  The closing date for applications was 30th September 2012.

Charles lives in West Yorkshire and his story can be read in the Keighley News.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

'Merdeka' now available in the Kobo eBookstore

'Merdeka' is now available for download in the Kobo eBookstore.  Getting it there has been quite a journey.  All those of you with Kobo eReaders can now access it. 

Don't have a Kobo eReader?  There is a page on this blog which gives you the other options to get the book.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

12 people lost in the Jungle 60 years ago are re-buried

On 15th March 2012 all twelve people (passengers and crew) who died in a plane crash in the Malaysian jungle in 1950 were re-buried with full military honours.  RAF Dakota KN630 crashed deep in the Malaysian jungle on 25th August, 1950, during a target marking mission near Kampong Jendera.  The plane from 52 Squadron (based at RAF Changi in Singapore) had been dropping smoke markers near Kampong Jendera to help Lincoln bombers pinpoint Communist camps, but it lost power during its second run and plummeted into a ravine.

A rescue party reached the crash site in early September 1950 after nine days journey on foot to discover all 12 had died.  Due to the high risk of terrorist attack, the bodies were buried in shallow jungle graves.  Due to the efforts of Dennis Carpenter, the brother of Geoff Carpenter one of the dead Airmen, and to the support of Colonel Tajri Alwi of the Malaysian Army, the bodies were found and excavated after a major search operation in 2008.  For the full story (and related photographs) see an article by the Mail Online.

Monday, 24 September 2012

No war should be forgotten.....

British Forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001 - that's 11 years ago.  Once they withdraw in 2014 they will have been in theatre for 13 years.  Is it possible that 50 years from then the war will be virtually forgotten by the British people?  The war in Malaya has been.....

Friday, 14 September 2012

A great review for 'Merdeka' on Amazon

Many thanks to "DJB" for a 5 star review of 'Merdeka' just posted on  Extracts from this review, other customer reviews and professional reviews can be seen on the Review page of this blog. 

British Royals visit Malaysia

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, are now in Malaysia on the second leg of their Diamond Jubilee tour.  Yesterday Kate made her first public address on foreign soil with a two minute speech at Hospis Malaysia.  "Providing children and their families with a place of support, care and enhancement at a time of great need is simply life-changing," she said, in support of a new a new paediatric palliative care programme.  For some recent pictures visit the website of the British Monarchy.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

William and Kate pay their respects to the fallen.....

Photo by by TravelPod Attractions
On the last leg of their Singapore visit, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery and Memorial at Kranji.  They are of a similar age to many of those who are buried there, most of whom died during the fight against the Japanese invaders during the second world war. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wills and Kate visit Singapore

A royal visit highlights the enduring friendship between Singapore and the UK.  Singapore is the first stop for Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a Diamond Jubilee visit to SE Asia.  See an article by the Straits Times for some excellent photos of the initial stages of the visit.  Kate looks absolutely stunning in the beautiful National Orchid Garden and Prince William is a wonderful ambassador for his country.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Off in a boat on a jungle river....

Back in 1988 I took a trip in a boat, up a Malaysian River from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan.  As far as I recall in those days it was the only way to get to Kuala Tahan, the gateway from which to explore Taman Negara National Park.  There was a feeling of 'getting away from it all' as one lowered onself tentatively into the fragile craft for the 3 hour trip up to the Park Accomodation.  The modern resort had not yet been built and the buildings there were just a collection of low wooden huts.  As the boat pulled away from the jetty I remember feeling a real sense of relief that, for a few precious days, I was leaving most of the modern world behind.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Merdeka - Merdeka - Merdeka

Today is Merdeka Day in Malaysia, a time for great celebrations.  It's 55 years since Tunku Abdul Rahman first declared the country to be free ................

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

2012 - 55th Anniversary of Merdeka Day

31st August 2012 will be the 55th anniversary of Merdeka Day, the day that the Federation of Malaya shed British colonial rule to become a free and independent country.  Known in Malay as 'Persekutuan Tanah Melayu' the Federation was formed on 31st January 1948 with the joining together of nine Malay states with two of the British Straits Settlements, Penang and Malacca. 

The Federation stayed in existence until 16th September 1963 when it was reconstituted as Malaysia with the addition of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (Singapore subsequently left to become an independent State on 9th August 1965). 

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

John Cleese in 'Privates on Parade'

John Cleese plays a starring role in 'Privates on Parade', a 1982 film adaptation of the Peter Nichols play of the same title about a fictional  military entertainment group, the 'Song and Dance Unit, Southeast Asia' (SADUSEA) assembled to entertain the troops in the Malayan jungle in the years after World War II.

The play is set around the activities and exploits of SADUSEA, a mostly gay British military concert party stationed in Singapore and Malaya in the late 1940s during the Malayan Emergency. The drama draws upon Nichols' own experiences in the real-life Combined Services Entertainment, the postwar successor to ENSA, Entertainments National Service Association.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

'Merdeka' now available as a NOOK Book

Good news for NOOK readers - 'Merdeka' is now available in the Barnes & Noble online store for NOOK devices and apps. This is the Smashwords edition.  You can see it here.

Barnes & Noble also sell the paperback edition of 'Merdeka' in their online store. 

Keep checking this blog for information relating to other versions as they become available.

The Battle of Pasir Panjang Ridge and the fall of Singapore

There has been a lot of media interest in the fall of Singapore in 1942 since the BBC aired their new series on the topic.

The Malay mortar crew on display at Bukit Chandu
The two day battle for Pasir Panjang Ridge was very briefly covered in the context that the defenders' stubborn resistance led to the subsequent Japanese revenge massacre of 200 patients and staff at the Alexandra Hospital (many of the patients were bayoneted in their beds).  In 'Merdeka' Alick hears the story of Sergeant Hisyam of the Malay Regiment, a survivor of the battle - Sergeant Hisyam is a fictional character,  but what actually did happen at Pasir Panjang Ridge? 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

'Merdeka' Shipped to Apple's iBookstore

'Merdeka' was shipped to Apple's iBookstore on 18th July 2012.  All books are manually checked by Apple and can take up to two weeks from the shipping date to appear.  It seems that the only way to see if a title is available is to search the iBookstore from an Apple device.  Unfortunately my e-reading device is a Kindle and so I can't check :(
If any kind reader with an iPad or iPhone is able to search Apple's iBookstore for 'Merdeka',  it would be hugely appreciated if you could advise when it appears.  You can do this by leaving a comment below this post, or by sending me a direct message.  Once I know that it is there and available I will update accordingly.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Gurkhas and British Soldiers - The Beginning

In 'Merdeka' Alick goes into the deep jungle as part of a Gurkha fighting patrol.  These days a lot of people are familiar with Gurkhas and the British Army, but how did the story start?  There is a famous quote attributed to Lt Frederick Young of the Army of the Honourable East India Company who was surrounded by hostile Gurkhas on the border between India and Nepal.

"I went there one man and came out three thousand".

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Mereka ebook now published on Smashwords (multi format)

As of today, in addition to Kindle,  'Merdeka' is available for purchase and download in the following key formats:  Epub, Online Reading, PDF, RTF and several others.  The book can be purchased through Smashwords. What does this mean?  Now you no longer just need a Kindle to properly enjoy the eBook.  If you buy the book at Smashwords the guidelines for format choice are:

Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)

Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser)

PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing)

RTF (readable on most word processors)

The downside (or upside depending on your perspective) is that the Smashwords edition is DRM (Digital Rights Management) free, giving much more flexibility to purchasers.

A further update will be posted once Smashwords has made the book available to key online retailers.  There is no change to the Kindle Edition in the Amazon stores, which is available as before.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Another review on Amazon

Many thanks to 'WicklowLass' for a review of 'Merdeka' just posted on  Extracts from this review, along with all the others, can be seen on the Review page of this blog.  Its great to know that 'Merdeka' is being read with enjoyment by people who would not ordinarily read a book with a military theme.........

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Another professional review for 'Merdeka'

According to Trevor Royle 'Merdeka' is ‘.... a crisply told tale with a strong narrative line and a cast of well-drawn characters.’ 

Trevor is a broadcaster and author specialising in the history of war and empire.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a regular commentator on defence matters and international affairs for the BBC and an Editor at The Sunday Herald. His books include:

The Flowers of the Forest, and A Time of Tyrants
The Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660, Patton: Old Blood and Crimea: The Great Crimean War 1854-1856.

Another of his books is 'The Last Days of the Raj'

Monday, 18 June 2012

Traditional Malay Dance - Zapin

Watch the Zapin, a traditonal Malay dance.  In 'Merdeka' Sergeant Hisyam and his men dance the Zapin as part of their independence celebrations.  They dance it in a jungle village by a fire.  The clip below shows the same dance being performed by boys from St Joseph's Institute in Johor, Malaysia.  It is a lovely dance........  The Zapin first came to the Malay archipelago in the 13th Century, introduced by Muslim traders.  Read more of its history here.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Natural Hot Springs at Pekan Air Panas, Johor, Malaysia

In 'Merdeka' Ah Sim wistfully remembers a relaxing visit to the hot springs at Air Panas (then spelt Ayer Panas), as she reluctantly heads back to the jungle, passing through Kampung Tenang. More information on the springs and the history of the settlement (founded in 1806) can be found on Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Nyem
Close by is a wonderful jungle waterfall at Taka Melor, with a pool suitable for swimming.  Its worth a visit!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Combat Stress (PTSD) - Do you really understand what it means?

In 'Merdeka' Alick struggles with the aftermath of a stressful patrol, not fully realising the emotional impact that it has had on him.  In the 1950's PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) was not recognised the way that it is today and victims were expected to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on.  Today there is excellent support available to UK veterans through the charity 'Combat Stress'.   Do you really understand what 'the enemy within' means to PTSD sufferers? The advert below shows a simulated flashback which some viewers may find disturbing.....

Friday, 8 June 2012

A review with a difference - 'Merdeka' at sea.....

A review has been kindly sent by Nigel St George, along with a picture of a yacht called 'Merdeka' taken on the Andaman Sea after a voyage from Malaysia to Phuket.

'Merdeka' at sea
7th June 2012
Dear Lachlan,
I have been meaning to send you this photo for ages.  I was reading your book whilst travelling between KL and Penang, then Langkawi and on to Phuket. 
The photo was taken whilst actually reading your book whilst at anchor off Phuket.
A great read and made all the better by being in Malaysia.

For other reviews of 'Merdeka' see the Review Page of this blog.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Another great review for 'Merdeka'

Many thanks to John Angus for a 5 star review of 'Merdeka' just posted on  Extracts from this review, along with all the others, can be seen on the Review page of this blog.  Work on the next book is underway and the feedback from all the reviewers is hugely appreciated.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Queens Diamond Jubilee 2012

Queen Elizabeth II came to the British throne on 2nd February 1952 on the death of father (her actual Coronation was on 2nd June 1953), and also took up her position as head of the Commonwealth.  2012 marks 60 years of her reign.  Five years later, on 31st August 1957, her photo was taken down from numerous walls throughout the Malayan Federation, which gained independence on that day.  'Merdeka' means independence or freedom in Malay. 

Until 'Merdeka' the young Queen's photo was displayed in Police Stations in the Malayan Federation and there is a section in the book which touches on what its removal meant for some people who served in the Police at that time.

The photographs above are taken from the official website of the British Monarchy.  Queen Elizabeth II is the world's second longest serving Head of State.  Who has been doing it longer?  King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who came to the throne on 9th June1946, has been doing it for 6 years longer!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang

Some of the final scenes in 'Merdeka' are set in the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang (known as the E&O).  It was founded by the Sarkies Brothers in 1885 (they also founded the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in 1887 and the Strand Hotel in Rangoon, Burma in 1896).  It never really regained its former glory after World War Two and went into a period of decline, finally shutting down in 1996.  After a major refurbishment,  it opened under a new owner in 2001. 

I was lucky enough to visit in 1992 and, while it was clear that its former glory had faded, it was nice to sit and enjoy the facilities and dream of what the Hotel must have been like in its heyday.  If you want to see what the hotel is like today visit its website.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Taman Negara - National Park

Picture © Lachlan Gunn 2012

A large part of 'Merdeka' is set in Taman Negara National Park.  Located on peninsular Malaysia, it was known as King George V National Park from 1938 (when it was first formed) until independence.  On the slopes of Gunung (Mount) Tahan there are some old concrete base slabs where Gedung Camp, mentioned in 'Merdeka' could have been situated......

Picture © Lachlan Gunn 2012

Covering 4,343 square kilometres of what is believed to the oldest jungle in the world (130 million years?), the park spans the states of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Railway Man and the Forgotten Highlander

Both were Scots who were imprisoned by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore during World War Two, and who were forced to work on the infamous railway of death, the Burma-Siam railway, that the Japanese subsequently started constructing.  Both are still alive and in their nineties:  Alistair Urquhart, author of the 'Forgotten Highlander' lives in Broughty Ferry, overlooking the Tay Estuary near Dundee; Eric Lomax, author of 'The Railway Man', lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

How do you cope with the aftermath of witnessing death and extreme trauma?   Young people fighting in Afghanistan are facing the same issue today, although not on the scale of what was witnessed by Urquhart and Lomax.  They belong to a generation who were expected to deal with the pain and suffering on their own........while fortunately today's veterans can expect help!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Closing date for appliocations for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal

In February I put up a post about the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal.  The Government of Malaysia introduced the medal in 2005 and awarded it to British and Commonwealth veterans who served in the conflict in Malaya in the late 1950s and 1960s.  There is now a closing date for applications by UK Veterans.  According to the Veterans UK website:

"The last date for acceptance of application forms for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal will be 30th September 2012.  All applications prior to that date will honoured."

Veterans (or the families of veterans) should visit the Veterans UK website to find out how to apply.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Merdeka receives a great review!

'Merdeka' has just been favourably reviewed by the British Army Rumour Service (ARRSE).  This a website that receives up to 5 million hits per month.  Some extracts from the review are:

"The book is well written by someone with a good knowledge of the country and history of the period."

Friday, 13 April 2012

.....and the rain my drink

I have just bought an old Jonathan Cape edition (First reprint 1956) of Han Suyin's book '....and the rain my drink'.  It was republished in 2010 by Monsoon Books.  According to the information on their website:

First published in 1956, Han Suyin’s magnificent novel about the Emergency Period in Malaya and Singapore evokes all the colour and conflict of a land where, in the late 1940s and early 50s, a bitter guerrilla war was fought between communist terrorists lurking in the Malayan jungles and British, Australian and New Zealand armed forces. With infinite sharpness and feeling, she writes about the intertwining lives of many people caught up in the clash of powerful forces. Dogged, downtrodden Chinese rubber tappers, a pretty girl called Small Cloud for whom betrayal has become a way of life, and the stiff, aloof world of the British administrators and their “mems”.

I have read her most famous novel 'A Many-Splendoured Thing' set in the hectic over-crowded world of colonial post war Hong Kong, but never this book.  The title comes from an old Chinese Ballad:

I will go to the forest for justice.
The wind for my garment I wear.
....and the rain my drink.

I'm looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Westland Whirlwind Helicopter

The patrol in 'Merdeka' is inserted into the jungle by Westland Whirlwind helicopters.  The Westland Whirlwind helicopter was a British licence-built version of the U.S. Sikorsky S-55/H-19 Chickasaw.  400 were built, of which 100 were sold to overseas  customers. 

According to Wikipedia 69 still survive and when researching the book I visited Whirlwind HAR.9 XL875 at Scone Airfield, Perth, Scotland.

The RAF HAR Mk.4 version was modified for use in the tropics and was used in Malaya.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The final question

What will you say on your deathbed?  How you live your final moments will of course depend on your beliefs.  Atonement and preparation for a final journey is a common approach.  Ultimately we will not know what will happen to our spirit until we are gone.  In 'Merdeka' there is a moving deathbed scene, where two cultures meet.  Of course death can be sudden and unexpected, and there is often not time to prepare...... but for those who can, the answer to the final question will no doubt become clear as thoughts focus for the last time............

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Penang Ferry

The Penang Ferry is mentioned in 'Merdeka'.  In 1957 it was the only way to get to the Island - whereas today it is an alternative to the Penang Bridge that opened in 1985.  The vessels in use today are different to the one that Alick used.

The Ferry first started running in 1920 and so it will soon be celebrating its 100th Anniversary.  But a new bridge will  make it less relevant.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Customer reviews of Merdeka

QR Code for Merdeka Reviews
Another customer review was posted on yesterday - a big thank you to Lynne Duncan.  7 reviews posted there to date.  All are very much appreciated and extracts can be seen on the Review Page of this blog. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, the QR code shown will also take you straight to the customer review page on (if you have QR code scanning software linked to the camera on your phone).

Customer reviews are particularly appreciated as work has now commenced on the next book...........

Monday, 5 March 2012

British and Commonwealth War Graves desecrated in Libya

Video footage has been released by people believed to be from an Islamist militia showing graves in a British and Commonwealth Military Cemetery being systematically desecrated by armed thugs.  One of the gang also climbed the Cenotaph and began smashing the cross on it with a mallet.

Having foreign war graves on your soil is one of the residues of Empire, although in this case Libya had not been a British colony - it belonged to Italy.  The soldiers whose remains are buried in the Benghazi Military Cemetery died fighting Rommel's Africa Corps.  This was apparently of no concern to the vandals, whose mission appears to have been some form of revenge for the burning of copies of the Koran by the American military in Afghanistan.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

What is a QR Code?

A QR code (or quick response code) is a unique matrix bar code that lets people instantly follow a link to an internet page using a Smartphone with the required App.  Here's how it works and what you can do with it:
  1. Check that your phone can scan a QR code with its camera, either with an application that you download or via software that's already installed on your phone (use a search engine to find an App if your phone doesn't have one - search online from your phone and many sites will ensure that one is downloaded that exactly matches your phone's make and model).
  2. Then use the App on your phone to scan the image to the right.  The image has a QR code that takes you straight to reviews of Merdeka on  

And that's it!  Apparently QR codes are becoming more and more popular as a quick and easy way to capture and share information.  Your support in sharing the one on this page would be hugely appreciated!

Merdeka on Facebook

The Merdeka page on Facebook has just got a short url.  You can find it by following  Visit the page to see some related images and other information.  Your support in 'Liking' the page would be hugely appreciated.....

Friday, 2 March 2012

Merdeka print edition sales doing well......

Having just checked the Amazon UK website Merdeka is now #44,164 in the best sellers rank out of over 5,721,000 books.  That put's it into the top 1% (albeit briefly as the stats are update hourly).  Thank you all...........

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day 2012

Today is 1st March 2012 and it's World Book Day.  What is World Book Day?   To quote from their website:

World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

To find out more visit the World Book Day website at

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Have you heard of the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal?

The Government of Malaysia introduced the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) medal in 2005 and awarded it to British and Commonwealth veterans who served in the conflict in Malaya between August 1957 and August 1966. This caught the final years of the Malayan Emergency and also the conflict in Borneo from 1962 to 1966. 

In September 1963 Malaysia came into being with the amalgamation of the Federation of Malaya (now West Malaysia) with the crown colony/British protectorate of Sabah and Sarawak, collectively known as British Borneo (now East Malaysia).  Rather than allowing the creation of East Malaysia, the then government of Indonesia wanted to absorb the territories into Kalimantan, their name for the Indonesian part of the Island of Borneo.  War was never officially declared between Indonesia and Malaysia and the Indonesians tried to support some local unrest in the former British Territories. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Uplands School - Penang

Uplands School is mentioned in the closing Chapters of 'Merdeka'. The information below has been taken from the History page of the school website.

The School was founded during the Malayan Emergency. Attacks by insurgents against rubber estates led the Incorporated Society of Planters - I.S.P to seek a safe location where expatriate planters could send their young children to school while keeping them in Malaya.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Singapore 1942: End of Empire

Last week the BBC screened the first Episode of a new series called 'Singapore 1942: End of Empire'.  The second episode will be shown tonight at 9:00 pm on BBC Two Scotland.  If you live in the UK and missed the first episode you can watch it on BBC iPlayer until 21 February 2012.

The first episode  looks at how Japan's lightning invasion of Malaya threatened the key British port of Singapore, igniting ethnic and political tensions, and tells how Scottish soldiers were at the heart of the city's defence.  The soldiers were from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and, if you ever get the chance to visit, there is a small related display in their Regimental Museum at Stirling Castle.  What has this to do with 'Merdeka'? 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hearts and minds

It is now taken as a given that winning the 'hearts and minds' of a population is one of the cornerstones of a successful counter-insurgency campaign (with both the insurgents and the forces of the government trying to win over the populace).  The phrase 'hearts and minds' is often used these days, but its origin is perhaps less well known.  It was first coined by General Sir Gerald Templer after he was appointed as High Commissioner in Malaya in 1952, with a brief to end the Malayan Emergency.  He also took on the role of Director of Operations (DirOps).  He famously stated that:

"The answer lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people."

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Orang Asli People of the Malay Peninsular - A Historic Video

According to Wikipedia 'Orang Asli' is a generic Malaysian term used officially for non-Malay people indigenous to Peninsular Malaysia. Officially, there are 18 orang asli tribes, categorised under three main groups according to their different languages and customs.

So much has changed for the Orang Asli people since a German film crew made the video below in the 1930's.  Jalil, a member of the Senoi group of tribes, is one of the main protagonists in 'Merdeka'.  His world was not so far removed from the world of the people that you can watch below.  Sadly deforestation and land grabs for development have now significantly changed their world............

Friday, 27 January 2012

Author Signed Copies of 'Merdeka' available through

BenAlpin Books is now selling Author signed copies of Merdeka on (delivery to UK addresses only). 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Paperback edition of 'Merdeka' now available on Amazon

The paperback edition of Merdeka is now available for purchase on Amazon (athough it has not yet been linked with the Kindle edition due to a title glitch).  Details below:  best retail price £10.14 (plus postage)    best retail price $17.74 (plus postage)

Get more information on how to get the book, and details of the e-book here

Friday, 13 January 2012

Paperback edition of 'Merdeka' now available

Merdeka has just been published as a paperback by Authorhouse.  You can order the book directly from the publisher:

Authorhouse UK Store: retail price £12.95 (plus postage)
Author house US Store: retail price $19.95 (plus postage)

The paperback should start to appear on other retail websites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc) over the next few weeks.

Get details of the e-book here

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Paperback version of Merdeka

Have just had confirmation that the paperback is now at the printers.  Hopefully it will be available later this month - ISBN: 978-1-4678-8043-5

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Price drop for 2012

Happy new year.  Amazon have just dropped the price of the e-book - now down to £2-00 on, $3.12 on and €2.68 on the DE website.  The price on the FR, ES and IT websites is still at €2.99