Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nanga Gaat: Memorial

Nanga Gaat memorial was build on a site overlooking Sg. Gaat and Sg.Balleh
It was erected as a form of memorial to those British Security Forces who had died at Nanga Gaat (referring to the men of 845 NAS).
The Nanga Gaat Memorial was completed and a dedication ceremony was held in mid June of 1965.

During operations in March and April 1965, there were three serious fatal accidents.

On 4 March 1965 while carrying troops of the Royal Malay Regiment, Lieutenant M R Thompson RN had an engine failure in Wessex 1 XP108 and crashed at Ulu Sungai Puro, not far from Nanga Gaat, resulting in the death of six men from the regiment and his Aircrewman, REA A J Williams.

On 9 April 1965 Lieutenant J A C Morgan RN, piloting a Hiller 12E XS164 used for liaison duties, was killed shortly after take off when his aircraft went out of control and crashed as result of losing the tail rotor to severe vibration. The tail rotor had been damaged in a previous incident and Lt Morgan had tried to make an ad hoc repair as getting a replacement in such a remote area would have taken considerable time. Apparently the first incident shaved off an inch or two from the tip of one of the tail rotor blades. In a bid to rebalance it, Lt Morgan cut off a similar amount from the other blade. Unfortunately he killed himself as a result.

On 12 April 1965 when returning form a troop lift and in formation prior to landing, two Wessex 1s piloted by Lieutenant R Robertson RN and Sub Lieutenant J C Hapgood RN collided and both aircraft plunged out of control into the river. Both pilots were killed as well as NAM A Rothwell, who was the Aircrewman in Hapgood’s Wessex, 2nd Lieutenant C J Johnson, Sgt P McNeilly, L/Cpl W H Murray, and Pte R G Green from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment and L/Cpl W J Jack from the Royal Army Medical Corps. Only three survived, the Petty Officer Crispin who was the Aircrewman from Robertson’s aircraft and two men from the Parachute Regiment. Crispin had a miraculous escape as he was flung out of the rear cabin door on his dispatcher harness, but was quick enough to release himself and fall into the river sustaining only relatively minor injuries.

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