I was commissioned and posted to 2 Arty in December 1964, together with Steven Pan Kong Leong. 2 Arty was a new regt then, and we were put up in an old Gurkha hutted camp beside the Sg Besi Chinese graveyard.
I was posted to E Bty and Pan to F Bty. There were only two Federation Artillery Regiments in 1964. 1 Arty, also located in Sg Besi, had three gun Btys, A, B and C Bty and 2 Arty had D,E and F Bty. There were indeed more guns in the Bty than officers, because all gun Btys had 4 guns each, and we had 3 officers to each Bty.
E Bty had a BC, Major John Lane RA, a BK, Kapt Mustapha Saad FA and me holding the rest of the Bty appointments; Section Comd, GPO, Troop Comd and 2nd BK. Boy do we have to learn fast.
My first real operational experience was not as a gunner, but as an infantry platoon comd as E Bty and F Bty were deployed to the Kota Tinggi area in Johore in mid December 1964. Indonesian troops had parachuted into Kota Tinggi / Mawai, area and had butchered about 18 soldiers from 1 SIR Regt from Singapore. But that’s another story.
I settled into routine regimental and bty duties after a successful ops and returning from Kota Tinggi. An introductory YO gunnery course was organized by Mejar Jafaar Mohammed FA IG. The course was held inhouse in 1 Arty. The proper YO Arty course in Larkhill, UK would only commence in August 1965.
From December 1964 to August 1965 all officers from both the regts stayed in the common officers mess up the hill, with all the other troops stationed in Sg Besi. Lt Anthony Chia Eng Lim was the senior subaltern for both the regts. Adjutant for 1 Arty was Kapt Hew Deng Onn and 2 Arty had a Mat Salleh Capt. ( Forgot his name). Whilst 1 Arty had more Malaysian officers, other than the CO Colonel Price, 2 Arty had more Mat Salleh officers, with the CO Colonel Webb. All BCs, Adjutant, QM were Mat Sallehs.
Both Pan and I took our ragging period well. It was all learning process and fun. All new officers were known as NQFA (Non Qualified Federation Artillery), until we had completed our YO Arty course. Our immediate seniors were, Lt Aris Salim FA, Lt Adam Hon FA and Lt Omar FA. Life as a young gunner was not bad, we had a lot to learn and had held a lot of responsibilities to boot. Our lives were centered in the regiment, playing games and the officers mess full time. We learnt and picked up things more at the weekly Happy Hours and daily sessions sitting at the bar counter than in the classroom. Of course TV Malaysia (black and white) was just introduced in 1964. We had regular parties and celebrations. We actually celebrate everything and anything; birthdays, games, end of exercises and regimental dos. Every Bty in both the regts had their own bands. 2 Arty shifted to Taiping in mid 1965, deep in our Arty traditions, and sad to be parted from 1 Arty officers.
Pan, Maskan Katan, Chin Kai Fong and I left for Larkhill in August 1965 for the 6 months YO Arty course. We returned in February 1966 and I joined my Bty on ops duties in Tawau, Sabah.