MALAYA....what a coincidence. - March 2016

Posted in General Village Interest

Sitting in the bar at the Railway Tavern, enjoying a pint or two and putting the World to rights, Eric Foster (who lives with his wife Brenda in Elm Close) and Derrick Woods who died recently in Wensum Drive, got to reminiscing about careers far away on the other side of the World.
Eric's whole career was in the RAF, as a navigator, serving part of his time in Malaya in the 1950's. Derrick did his National Service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers also in Malaya, at the same time.
Eric was a keen pianist, playing in the pub where he met Derrick.(In another life Eric had his own group playing at dances and do's) He and Derrick struck up their first conversations about music and we all know Derrick played in the Dereham Band for over 60 years, so music was a large part of his life.
Obviously as they got to know one another their talk turned to life in the Services - and then they realised, they had both served in Malaya, and swapped stories which tied up and were familiar to them both!
Derrick was in the Army and Eric in the RAF, and believe it or not they both did the same job!
Derrick's job was an MT driver and was appointed to drive the DOPS (Director of Operations) General Templer who was the High Commissioner in Colonial Malaya. To be his driver, he must have been a Lance Corporal or Sergeant as requested by the DOPS for the job.
Sometimes Derrick had to take General Templer from Kuala Lumpa up country to a cold weather place called Ipoe and Fraser Hill,7,000 ' above sea level but approached by a long winding road through the jungle. DOPS used to use this road and always travelled in a Humber Supersnipe Staff Car. The rebels knew the type of car which was a target, as was the General and because of this, Derrick was a target too - he knew this and stuck his neck out so often for the General, and could have been killed many times by attack.
Eric at this time also flew the General about. Sometimes his and Derricks ‘travels overlapped - each would do one leg of the journey with the General. Eric laughingly said they had the same job, his up high and Derrick's down below. Despite being in the Far East at the same time they had never knowingly met.
Eric told me this recently, as he thought it would make a good story and also he wanted to tell everyone what a brave thing Derrick was doing all those years ago. He must have volunteered for this job knowing that every journey up country could have been his last.
(The British fought what is called the "emergency" or counter insurgency campaign in Malaya, a British colony until independence in 1957,
The insurgents were mostly disaffected Chinese and it was a war essentially to defend commercial interests - British interests.)