At this time the 1st /11th Sikhs received orders to move overseas
for further operations, this time in Java. Hurried preparations
were made and the Battalion embarked on the 10th of December. However,
just before sailing orders were changed and the Battalion was diverted
to Malaya. The 1st/ 11th Sikhs had a very pleasant voyage with the
4th / 8th Gurkhas in the Georgetown Victory, a U.S.A. transport,
and disembarked at Port Dickson on the west coast of Malaya on the
19th of December. From there the Battalion moved by train and lorry
to Bahau, a rubber-planting district some sixty miles from the coast.
The Sikhs were accommodated in buildings on different rubber estates
and were responsible for internal security in the area. There were
many armed Chinese gangs roaming the countryside at this time and
there was also some communal tension between the Malays and Chinese,
but the presence of troops had a quietening effect and the Battalion
had a peaceful time with no incidents.
The Pipes and Drums, which had been re-formed and had been training
in Nowshera, joined the Battalion in January and the Sikhs started
ceremonial guard mounting and other ceremonial parades.
The 1st/ 11th Sikhs were once again under General Messervy, who
was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in Malaya. He visited the
Battalion at the beginning of February and the men were all delighted
to see him again. In Bahau the Battalion had an opportunity to start
training and to practice both hockey and athletics, since it was
an excellent training area and there were many good sports grounds
in the district.
In March the Battalion left for a coal-mining district, Batu Arang,
about thirty miles from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaya, for
further internal security duties. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford
went away to command the 89th Brigade temporarily, but he returned
at the beginning of April. During his absence Major Jones officiated
in command of the Sikhs.
The Battalion remained in Batu Arang for only a month and then
moved to a tented camp outside Kuala Lumpur, where it started preparing
for the Trooping of the Colour and its Centenary celebrations in
Balwant Singh winning the High Jump. Malaya Command
On the 26th and 27th of April the Malaya Command Athletic Meeting
was held and fifteen teams, on a brigade level, took part. Men of
the 1st/ 11th Sikhs managed to win three events and were placed
second in five others, enabling the Brigade to win very easily from
a strong Royal Air Force team. All events were of a very high standard
and the men, who until they arrived in Malaya, had been living under
active service conditions for nearly five years, did very well to
achieve such results.
The Brass Band arrived from the Regimental Centre towards the end
of April and by the 1st of May all arrangements for the parade;
and Centenary celebrations were complete.
Pritam Singh winning the Half-Mile
General Messervy had very kindly lent the Battalion his aircraft
and this enabled General Savory, now Adjutant-General in India,
His Highness The Rajah of Faridkot, Major Webster and Captain Pritam
Singh, who had both just recovered from their bad wounds, and five
pensioners, Honorary Captain Thakur Singh, Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I.,
Honorary Lieutenant Sampuran Singh, Sardar Bahadur, O.B.I., and
Subadars Man Singh, Bhagat Singh and Hardit Singh, to fly from India
and stay with the Battalion for the celebrations.
Admiral The Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, honoured
the Battalion by agreeing to take the salute at the Trooping of
the Colour, which took place on the grass playing fields of the
Salangor Club in Kuala Lumpur on the 4th of May. Admiral Mountbatten
was accompanied by General Stopford, now Commander-in-Chief, Allied
Land Forces, South-East Asia, General Messervy and General Savory,
so three of the Battalion's great wartime leaders were present at
the ceremony. The parade was witnessed by some fifteen thousand
people, including Sir Edward Gent, Governor of the Malaya Union,
His Highness The Rajah of Faridkot, the Sultan of Salangor and the
Sultans from four other Malay states, Air Vice-Marshal J. D. Breakey,
Air Officer Commanding, Malaya, Major-General Lovett, G.O.C. 7th
Indian Division, and representatives from all formations and units
At the beginning of the parade the Regimental Colour was in charge
of Havildar Nand Singh, V.C., and was guarded by two sentries, Lance-Naik
Dewa Singh, I.D.S.M., and Lance-Naik Karam Singh M.M. The Colour
was still borne by the pike which was shattered by a bullet in the
fighting in Lucknow in 1857. The Battalion was marched on to the
parade ground by the Battalion Havildar-Major Sarwan Singh, with
the Pipes and Drums playing "Gully Ravine," a march composed
to commemorate the battle on the 4th of June, 1915, at Gallipoli.
Admiral Mountbatten inspected the Battalion and then gave it a
stirring address, after which the Regimental Colour was trooped
in the traditional manner. Jemadar Bhag Singh, M.C., carried the
Colour. It is understood that this was the first time that a Colour
had been trooped by any regiment since the beginning of the war,
and it was the first time that the "guards" had been organized
in the three ranks. It had been quite impossible to obtain red safas,
or the pre-war white gaiters, except for the Band and Drums. However,
the men looked very smart in their olive-green uniforms with the
yellow pags and large ceremonial chakkers, and it was left to the
Pipes and Drums and the Regimental Brass Band to provide colour
for the parade.
The men all put their heart and soul into the drill and were determined
to present a good show. The parade finished with the Sikhs giving
a "Bole so nihal, sat siri akal,"
for the King-Emperor and Admiral Mountbatten. This was most stirring
and inspired everyone attending the parade. Admiral Mountbatten
wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford after the parade and sent a
signed photograph for the Officers' Mess. In his letter Admiral
"I would like to congratulate you
personally and through you the whole of the 1st Battalion of the
Sikh Regiment for the really magnificent Parade last Saturday."
"I have seen the Foot Guards Troop the Colour on many occasions.
I do not believe it is possible to do it better than they do it,
but I assure you that your Battalion did it just as well and that
is very high praise indeed.
"I hope you will convey my appreciation to all ranks that took
part in the Trooping of the Colour and accept my congratulations
on the centenary of your Regiment."
A signal was also received from General Stopford, in which he said
"So many thanks for asking me to
your centenary celebrations today. I was delighted to see the Battalion
again and congratulate you and all ranks on the superb execution
of the ceremony of Trooping of the Colours."
A service in commemoration of the Centenary was held in the Gurdwara
on the 5th of May and General Savory, His Highness The Rajah of
Faridkot and all officers attended. During the service Honorary
Captain Thakur Singh recited an inspiring poem on the 14th Sikhs.
On the 8th of May the Sikhs held a special ceremonial parade, when
Gurbachan Singh presents a sword to General Savory
Japanese swords captured in action by the Battalion were presented
to Lieutenant-General Savory, His Highness The Rajah of Faridkot,
Honorary Lieutenant and Subadar-Major Budh Singh and Havildar Nand
Singh, V.C. At the end of the parade General Savory took the salute
at the march past.
On the 8th of May Honorary Lieutenant Budh Singh left to go on
pension. He had been Subadar-Major for four years and was with the
Battalion throughout all its battles in Burma except for a short
period when he was wounded in 1942. He had completed thirty-two
years' service and won the Indian Distinguished Service Medal as
a sepoy with the 47th Sikhs in France in the First World War. He
had a very fine record and always worked hard for the good name
of the Regiment. He was given a great send-off in traditional style
and flew back to India. His place was taken by Subedar Gurbachan
Singh, who has a great war record, winning the Indian Distinguished
Service Medal on the North-West Frontier and the Military Cross
On the 8th of June the Sikhs provided a contingent for the Victory
Parade in Kuala Lumpur. All units in the area were represented,
in addition to contingents from the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force
and the Malaya Military Police. The Sikhs' party consisted of the
Colours, Pipes and Drums and seventy men under Major Harwant Singh.
This was the first time that the Colours had both been taken on
parade since the beginning of the war and they were the only Colours
carried on this Victory Parade. Havildar Nand Singh, V.C., was also
on this parade with seventeen other men with gallantry decorations.
After a temporary move to Bentong, in the centre of Malaya, the
Guard at Kota Bharu
moved to Kota Bharu, on the east coast near the Siamese border.
It was there that the Japanese made their initial assault landings
in 1941. The Sikhs spent four pleasant months in Kota Bharu and
were able for continue training and hockey. Being the only battalion
in the station, the capital of Kelantan State, they had to provide
numerous guards of honour and earned a very high reputation for
their drill, bearing, turn-out and discipline. In September "B"
Company returned to Bangkok for two months to guard Japanese war
criminals, while the Battalion moved over to the west coast of Malaya
in October in preparation for its return to India.
The Pipes and Drums had attained a very high standard of drill
and playing in Malaya. They beat "Retreat" in nearly all
the big towns throughout the country and were given very high praise
in all quarters. In Malaya the morale of the men was as high as
ever it had been, and they displayed great enthusiasm in all they
did. They earned a very high reputation and showed that they were
as good soldiers in peace as they were in war. General Lovett, in
a letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford, wrote:
"Your battalion was and is quite
outstanding in the division and I told the Chief so the other day
when I saw him."
The Sikhs sailed from Port Swetenham on the 12th of November in
the Dutch transport Boisevain, and arrived in Bombay on the 19th
of November. The 2nd Royal Battalion, who were at Santa Cruz, gave
the Battalion a great welcome at the docks before the latter entrained
General Savory visited the Battalion the day after arriving and
everyone appreciated his welcome. Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford left
the Battalion on the 29th of November for three weeks' leave in
England, prior to taking up the appointment of G.S.O.1 at the Staff
College, Quetta, and handed over the Battalion to Major Jones, who
officiated in command until the arrival of the new Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel
G. C. Wilson.
The Sikhs had an internal security role in Delhi, but large parties
of the men were able to go on some well-earned leave.
and Drums at Kota Bharu