There were four gun positions deployed in Sebatik Island. I was GPO in the Sungei Melayu gun Position.
It was mid morning when the fire orders came through.
Hello Charlie Charlie 2A, this is 2
Nonokan. BOP 41 under heavy enemy fire.
5 rounds FFE
It was the most extraordinary fire orders received throughout our Confrontation period. Firstly, Battery target for all gun positions? Secondly, fire orders sent through the Bty Admin net by Bty HQ? Thirdly, ZQ1001 at about 20 km away, which was well out of my gun range? Most odd.
But Fire orders are fire orders! Questions later.
ZQ1001 was a predicted DF target on Nonokan town (about 8 km West of Wallace Bay) circulated to all gun positions by the Semantan gun position. We had the target listed in our target records. BOP 41 was a Boat OP from the TAG (Tawau Assault Group) comprising the Recce Corps and our naval riverine elements. The fire orders came through our Bty Admin Net using the HF156 sets. Our Fire Orders net was onVHF, which had a typical limited operating jungle range from 3km to 8 km range. I had not gone out with the Infantry patrol that morning as FOO, nor callsign India 11 deployed that morning. India 11 was the infantry callsign whenever their patrol was out and when they called for direct fire support. Why did Bty HQ in Wallace Bay call for Battery target, knowing we would be out of range to ZQ1001 ?
BOP 41 was two assault boats deployed to observe the Nonokan town area, which was known to be enemy HQ position and main base. It was also known that Nonokan had a battery of 155mm guns in the town padang area. Enemy naval boats were also active in this area, mostly based in jetty area. BOP 41 had many times confronted with enemy naval activities, but had not exchanged fire before.
That morning BOP 41 reported that they were under heavy enemy fire from an enemy naval boat and had called for close fire support from the Semantan gun position. My BC had decided to retaliate with full force from all our gun positions. He had called for all gun positions to fire onto ZQ1001.
All guns responded with 5 rounds FFE. I fired charge 7 to my maximum range. Only the guns in Semantan and Wallace Bay were in range. They hit the target. The gun position at Bergosong was also about 16 km away. There was no necessity for a second salvo of gun fire. The enemy boat soon stopped firing and withdrew back to their base. Apparently rounds from the Semantan and Wallace Bay gun positions had actually hit the Nonokan jetty area.
BOP 41 reported no own casualties and was very pleased with our close support. BOP 41 could not assess target damage. Since then, our BOPs were never under enemy fire again.