En OP position at river mouth.
The main enemy forces were deployed in Kalimantan Island with its forward HQ in Nonokan town. The enemy was known to have deployed a Bty of 155 mm guns and 120mm mortar in Nonokan. They also had superior naval and water crafts and static OPs located at strategic positions.
Our troops were deployed within our area. The Infantry platoons patrolled the border areas and we had boat OPs called BOPs, deployed along the straits between Semantan and Nonokan. BOPs were manned by the Recce Sqns. Some BOPs were static.
The rules of engagement did not allow either side to cross the border. But probing for intelligence were normal activities. Sometimes the enemy would be bold and challenged our BOPs into engagement. Enemy patrol crafts would come close to our BOPs and their women crew would tease our troops, often baring their fabulous tits.
I was the GPO in Sg Limau, Sebatik Island, just north of the Indonesian border. Sg Limau was about 6 Km up stream of the river. The international border runs smack in the middle and divides the mouth of the river, which was about 600 m wide at low tide. The enemy had a permanent OP located at the mouth of the river and observed /monitored the access to our gun position up river. We would have to stay very close to the northern bank of the river when coming into the river from Tawau, as this was the only approach. Approach was often difficult, compounded by strong currents during high tide. If we were not careful, our boats would be pulled southwards and cross the mid line of the river mouth. Hence Bde SOP required all assault boats moving up Sg Limau were to be powered with twin Yamaha OBMs.
Kapt Mustapha Saad our BK and some Q personnel visited our position once a week during the admin/ration run. On one occasion, both the BK’s assault boat’s OBMs stopped as he was approaching the river mouth. As he could not restart the engines, the assault boat drifted strongly towards the international border. The BK and all on board tried very hard to paddle but it was no use. The boat continued to drift with the strong current towards the enemy direction. As soon as the BK’s assault boat crossed the mid line, the enemy opened fire with their HMGs. Bullets whisked overhead. The BK and all on board returned fire until all ammo were expended. Then the worst was to be expected. Enemy launched two of their assault boats out to capture our party.
I was in my bunker when the call came in. “Bty Target, Bty Target, Bty Target. ZQ 1001, En OP position at river mouth. We are drifting and under heavy enemy fire. 5 rounds FFE. Over”. The enemy OP position was one of our predicted DF targets. Luckily the target was very close to our map grids. I applied the Gills Drop Factor (GDF) to compensate for the incompetible grids and also for lack of met data. A GDF scale was designed by Lt MS Gill Singh, one of our GPO who had a university degree in metrological studies, because of inaccurate maps and we did not have access to metrology data. Charge Seven was used, as operationally allowed in Sabah. I was calm throughout the fire mission, although my heartbeat was very fast. I took over the radio from the signaler and spoke officer to officer with BK. BK ordered direction Golf Tango. Luckily adjustments were not necessary.
As it was our five rounds were on target and BK personally saw one boat capsized and the other returning to base. The enemy also stopped firing their HMG. Then to our relieve BK informed us that they managed to start the OBMs after our fire mission. Thank God there were no casualties on our side. Enemy casualties were not known, inspite of seeing one boat capsized.
BK and party did not return to Tawau that day, as we celebrated their safety with tahlil in Sg Limau that very night.