Royal Malay Regiment

Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja
ريجيمن عسكر ملايو دراج
Royal Malay Regiment

Cap Badge of the Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja
Active 23 November 1932–present
Country  Malaysia
Branch Malaysian Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Mechanised Infantry (one battalion)
Light Infantry (22 battalions)
Elite Parachute infantry (two battalions)
Size 25 battalions
Part of Malaysian Armed Forces
Nickname(s) Malayan Gurkha
Motto(s) Ta'at Setia (Loyal and True)
Colour of Beret   Army green
Engagements Battle of Malaya 1941–42
Battle of Singapore 1942
Malayan Emergency 1948–1960
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation 1963–1965
Battle of Mogadishu 1993–1995
Moro attacks on Sabah (2013 standoff)
Colonel in Chief Sultan of Kedah

The Royal Malay Regiment (Malay: Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja; Jawi: ريجيمن عسكر ملايو دراج) is the premier unit of the Malaysian Army's two infantry regiments. At its largest, the Malay Regiment comprised 27 battalions. At present, two battalions are parachute trained and form part of the Malaysian Army Rapid Deployment Force. Another battalion has been converted into a mechanised infantry battalion while the remaining battalions are standard light infantry. The 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment acts as the ceremonial battalion for the High King of Malaysia, and is usually accompanied by the Central Band of the Royal Malay Regiment. As its name suggests, the regiment only recruits ethnic Malays.


Men of the Malay Regiment, recruited from local native volunteers, at bayonet practice on Singapore Island, October 1941

Beginning in 1902, Malay rulers led by Sultan Alang Iskandar Shah (Sultan of Perak), Tuanku Muhamad Ibni Yam Tuan Antah (Negeri Sembilan), Raja Chulan (Perak Royal Family), and Dato Abdullah Haji Dahan (Undang Luak Rembau) urged the British colonial office to raise an army regiment from the local population. At the time, various British and Indian Army battalions (including the Burma Rifles) provided security for the Malay States.

On 23 November 1932 the British War Office approved the formation of the Malay Regiment as a locally raised regiment of the British Army then on 23 January 1933, the Federal Consultative Council passed the Malay Regiment Act as Act No. 11. Funding of $70,000 was also approved for the purchase of the Kong Sang Rubber Estate in Port Dickson for use as the Recruit Training Centre.

The regiment traces its origin back to 1933 and the 1st Experimental Company, a company of native Malays established as the beginning of a native military force in Malaya. On 1 February 1933, 25 young Malay locals were chosen from 1,000 applicants as suitable recruits for the new regiment. Formed on 1 March 1933 in the Haig Lines, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, this Experimental Company began with the 25 recruits under Commanding Officer G. McBruce and Adjutant Captain K. G. Exham. The Regimental Sergeant Major was A. E. McCarthy, and E. Oldfiled served as Quartermaster Sergeant.

At this stage, because the 'Company' was only an attempt to "find out how the Malays would react to military discipline".[1] it was designated "Experimental". On 1 January 1935, the Experimental Company became the Malay Regiment with a complement of 150 men. Recruitment then accelerated, and a further 232 recruits were formed into two rifle companies, as well as a headquarters wing that included a Vickers machine-gun platoon, a Signalling Section, and a Corps of Drums. As of 1 January 1938, the 1st Battalion Malay Regiment had a complement of 17 British officers, six Malay officers, 11 Warrant Officers, and 759 non-commissioned officers and other ranks. Training intensified as the shadow of war loomed larger with frequent long route marches and exercises at battalion and brigade levels. The regiment also began training with mortars and anti-tank weapons. In August 1941, a Bren gun carrier platoon was formed under Captain R. R. C. Carter and trained with the British 2nd Loyals Regiment. In March 1941, the Colonial Governor of the Straits Settlements, authorised the increase of the regiment's strength to two battalions with the creation of The 2nd Battalion in 1941. The two battalions of the Malay Regiment, along with the 2nd Battalion The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire), formed the 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade and went on to play a major role in the defence of Malaya during the Second World War.

Company A of 2nd Battalion was the first Malay Regiment unit to engage Japanese forces landing at Kampung Salak in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. Outnumbered, the unit eventually withdrew to Kuala Krai, and later to Singapore.

Battle of Pasir Panjang Ridge

The first clash between the Malay Regiment and Japanese soldiers occurred on 13 February 1942 at around 1400 hrs when the Japanese 18th Division attacked the south-western coast along the Pasir Panjang Ridge and across Ayer Rajah Road. That morning, the Japanese 56th Infantry Regiment, with considerable artillery support, attacked. 'B' Company of 1st Battalion, Malay Regiment, defending their position on the ridge came under heavy fire from Japanese troops supported by artillery and tanks and were forced to retreat to the rear. However, before their withdrawal was complete, the Japanese broke through 'B'Company's position and encircled the entire company. When their ammunition ran out, 'B' Company troops fought savagely in hand-to-hand combat using bayonets. Captain Yazid Ahmad of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, on secondment to the Malay Regiment, took over 'B' Company due to mounting officer casualties and led them in a heroic and glorious last stand eclipsing the later achievements of 2nd Lieutenant Adnan Saidi. Captain Yazid died where he stood at the head of his men. A few soldiers from 'B' Company managed to break out from the encirclement while other survivors were captured and became prisoners-of-war. The destruction of 'B' Company led to the night withdrawal of both the 44th Indian and 1st Malaya Brigade to the general line running from Mount Echo (at the junction of Ayer Rajah and Depot Road) to Buona Vista.

Battle of Bukit Chandu

On 14 February, the Japanese launched a further heavy attack at 0830 hours, supported by intense mortar and artillery fire, on the front held by the 1st Malaya infantry Brigade. The fighting included bitter hand-to-hand combat with heavy losses on both sides. At 1600 hours, an attack supported by tanks eventually succeeded in penetrating the left flank where the defenders were forced back to a line from the junction of the Ayer Rajah and Depot Road through the Brick Works and along the canal to Bukit Chermin. Owing to the failure of units on both its flanks to hold their ground, the 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade withdrew at 1430 hours. At this point, the Malay Regiment's C Company were ordered to move to a new defence position, Pt. 226 at Bukit Chandu (Opium Hill).

Second Lieutenant Adnan Saidi and his men of 7 Platoon, C Company of the 1st Bn Malay Regiment made their well-known final stand against the Japanese attack on Opium Hill, now being cemorated as Reflections at Bukit Chandu. Adnan Saidi's bravery was exemplified in the battle where he was killed along with many of his Malay Regiment soldiers in the last defensive battle at Pasir Panjang. His motto "Biar Putih Tulang Jangan Putih Mata" is still remembered. The translation loosely means, "it is better to die fighting than to live crying in regret till the eyes becomes blind." In other words, "Death Before Dishonour".

Had the Japanese gained control of Opium Hill and the ridge that overlooked the north of the island, it would have given them direct passage to the Alexandra area where the British army had its main ammunition and supply depots, a military hospital and other key installations.

Separated from D Company by a big canal on fire with oil flowing from Normanton Depot, C Company were prevented from retreating further south. C Company Commander Captain Rix died during the early part of the engagement whereupon command automatically passed to Second Lieutenant Adnan Saidi.

The Japanese troops pressed their attack on Opium Hill in the afternoon. Using deception, they sent a group of soldiers dressed in Punjabi uniforms to pass themselves off as Punjabi soldiers from the British army. However, Second Lieutenant Adnan Saidi saw through the ruse as British soldiers march in threes and Japanese soldiers march in fours. When the disguised soldiers reached the Malay Regiment's defence line, C Company's squad opened fire with their Lewis machine guns, killing some of the Japanese troops and badly wounding the rest — those who survived rolled and crawled downhill to save themselves. Four of the top marksmen in the previous years military competition held in Singapore were men from C Company.

Two hours later, the Japanese launched an all-out assault in great numbers despite being within point blank range of the Australian artillery. To save ammunition, the artillery did not open fire, a move that greatly surprised the Japanese army. The shell that had been "saved" by the Australian artillery was handed over to the Japanese army the next day when General Percival surrendered Singapore to General Yamashita. The Malay Regiment were soon overwhelmed by the attack. Although greatly outnumbered and short of ammunition and supplies, they continued to put up resistance. Reports claimed that Second Lieutenant Adnan Saidi manned a Lewis machine gun against the Japanese troops while some soldiers engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat using bayonets.[2] Nevertheless, the troops stood their ground and frustrated the enemy. Adnan Saidi was seriously wounded but refused to retreat and instead encouraged his men to fight to the last, showing a disregard for danger that inspired the company to fight on. Second Lieutenant Adnan was later captured and tortured before being bayoneted to death.

On 28 February 1942, four Malay Regiment officers taken prisoner were executed in Pasir Panjang by firing squad for refusing to join the Imperial Japanese Army at the urging of Malay traitor Major Mustapha Hussein of the Fujiwara Kikan Japanese intelligence organisation. They were Lieutenant (No.8) Ariffin Hj Sulaiman, Lieutenant (No.29) Abdul Wahid Jidin, Lieutenant (No.57) Abdullah Saad and Lieutenant (No.12) Ibrahim Sidek. Lieutenant Ahmad Noordin of 'A' Company, 1st Battalion was executed earlier on 15 February 1942 while Lieutenant Muhammad Isa Mahmud of HQ Company, 1st Battalion was executed on 12 February 1942. Most of the surviving captured Malay Regiment officers defected and joined the Imperial Japanese Army.

During the entire Malayan Campaign, but largely between 12–14 February 1942 in Singapore, the Malay Regiment suffered a total of 159 killed (six British officers, seven Malay officers, and 146 other ranks) and a large but unspecified number wounded. On the whole the British were not convinced that the Malays were a martial race[3][4] in view of the widespread desertions among Malay Volunteer troops leading to most of the remaining Malay Volunteers being disarmed before they entered Johor and were ordered home. A small core of well trained and loyal Malay Volunteer officers and NCOs fought to the end in the defence of Singapore.

Restruction during the British Military Administration

The British Military Administration recommended a quick restruction of the Malay Regiment in 1946, and mooted the idea of opening its recruitment to all races. This would then have created a racially integrated regiment, along the political lines of fusing the states of Malaya, while a multi-racial Malay regiment was seen as a potential unifying force in post war Malaya.[5] However, the proposal met with bitter opposition from the Malay Rulers and the population at large, and was seen as a link to British efforts to erode Malay supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu), a key feature of the Malayan Union.

By mid 1946, the idea of a multi-racial Malay Regiment had been dropped. The all-Malay Malay Regiment would become part of a Federation Army of divisional strength thereby freeing up British regiments for other more strategic duties. The British plan to develop a strategic reserve of three brigades held in Britain would require the raising of more local regiments.

The Overseas Defence Committee thereafter endorsed a gradual expansion of the Malay Regiment to six battalions by 1950 whereby the Malay Regiment would be used mainly for internal security, with multi-racial formations in the supporting arms.[6][7]

The Malayan Emergency

Main article: Malayan Emergency
Operators of the Malay Regiment during a jungle patrol in the Temenggor area of northern Malaya., c.1953

By 1948, the British Army had seven partially reformed Gurkha battalions in Malaya, in addition to two battalions of the Malay Regiment. By mid 1948, only three British battalions remained in Malaya to provide security to the Federation. The Malay Regiment also played a major role against the Communists during the emergency when an eventual seven battalions served during the Emergency, with the 3rd battalion raised in 1948.

The regiment gained the 'royal' prefix in 1960, becoming the Royal Malay Regiment and by 1961 had a strength of 11 Battalions. It's Sovereign's Colour was later received in 1963.

Indonesian confrontation

The Memorial in Kalabakan, Sabah commemorates the seven Royal Malay Regiment soldiers and their commander who were killed on 29 December 1963 when intruders from Indonesia attacked their camp.

During the confrontation, the Royal Malay Regiment were also deployed in Sabah and Sarawak. During this deployment, the Kalabakan incident occurred on 29 December 1963. An outpost in Kalabakan in Tawau, established and manned by members of C Company of the 3rd Battalion under the command of Maj Zainal Abidin bin Haji Yaacob was ambushed by "volunteers" of the North Kalimantan Army while performing their Maghrib prayers. The company reacted and stood to, and were finally able to repel the attacking force. However, seven members of the company, including Major Zainal Abidin were killed and 16 others wounded.

Serving the United Nations

Malayan Special Forces in Congo

The 4th Bn Royal Malay Regiment under the command of Lt Kol Ungku Nazaruddin formed the core of the Malayan Special Force that served under UN command in the Congo in 1960. In turn, the 6th Bn Royal Malay, 7th Bn Royal Malay and 2nd Bn Royal Malay also served in the Congo under UN command. 2nd Bn Royal Malay ended the Congo deployment on 28 April 1963 when they returned home.


As part of the United Nations UNOSOM II operation in Somalia, the 19th Bn Royal Malay Regiment (Mechanised) started deployment of its 870 members in Mogadishu from 18 June 1993. The battalion was involved in the combat rescue of US Army Rangers during the Battle of Mogadishu together with Pakistan Army's 10th Battalion of Baloch Regiment, where the Battalion provided the Radpanzer Condor armoured personnel carriers for the QRF force of the 10th Mountain Division that effected the rescue. One member of the battalion, a driver of one of the APCs, Private Mat Aznan (posthumously promoted to Corporal) was killed and four APCs destroyed during the rescue.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

23rd Bn Royal Malay and 3rd Armour formed MALBATT I as part of the United Nations Protection Force and started deployment in September 1993. 23 Bn Royal Malay served until August 1994 and were replaced by MALBATT II comprising 5 Bn Royal Malay and 2nd Armour. MALBATT III (28 March 1995 – November 1995) was formed from 12 Bn Royal Malay and 1st Armour. Malcon 1 (2 Royal Ranger Regiment & 4th Armour), Malcon 2 (18 RMR & 2nd Armour), Malcon 4 (2 RMR & 1 Armour)

Regimental Crest

The Regiment's crest depicts a pair of tigers supporting an Oriental Crown. Within the circle of the crest are a kris and a scabbard with the Regimental motto "Ta'at Setia" written in Jawi, meaning "Loyal and True". Major G. McI. S. Bruce and Captain K. G. Exham, the founding officers of this Regiment, designed the crest.

Three colours were chosen – green (the Muslim colour), yellow (for Malay royalty) and red (for the British Army influence).

Royal Guards

Battle honours

UN Peacekeeping missions


Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Michael Klinegardner, a member of the Beachmaster Unit (BMU) One, detachment Western Pacific's craft control team, explains his role in landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC) operations to landing force members of the Royal Malay Regiment (RMR)


The RAMD has a total of 25 battalions. 20 of these are standard light infantry battalions, with 2 roled as mechanised infantry and 2 as parachute infantry. The final battalion is a support unit.

1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment

Malay and British troops parading at the Mall in London

The 1st Bn Royal Malay is the most senior infantry battalion of the Regiment. This was also the battalion group to which Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi was posted. In 2008, the 1st Battalion became the first all-Muslim unit to provide the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace as well as the first guard from a nation that was not a Commonwealth realm.[8][9]

5th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment

5 Bn Royal Malay regiment is an Allied regiment of the King's Own Scottish Borderers Regiment (KOSB) of the British Army. The Alliance was formed during 1st Bn KOSB's service in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. Several traditions of KOSB are retained by 5 Bn. The shoulder flash of officers and men of 5 Bn follows the regimental colours of KOSB.

5 Bn also maintains the tradition of having a bagpipe platoon. The tradition started when an officer of KOSB was seconded to 5 Bn Royal Malay in 1953. 5 Bn have just then formed a pipe platoon. The Scottish officer introduced the bagpipe and helped train the pipers, and the bagpipe platoon was formed. To this day, the bagpipe platoons of both battalions maintained their alliance. The bagpipe platoon has, in the past, been invited to attend the Edinburgh Festival. The last time 5 Bn attended the festival was in January 1990, celebrating the KOSB’s 300th anniversary.[10]

6th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment

The 6th battalion, Royal Malay Regiment was formed on 1 May 1952 and later deployed to Quetta Camp in Kluang, Johor on 3 November 1952. Though formed on 1 May, the official date for the formation of the battalion is recorded as 3 November 1952. On its formation, the 6th Battalion had British officers from the 1st Battalion of the Dorset and Devonshire Regiment seconded to form the command core of the battalion.

The seconded officers were gradually replaced by Malay officers and in early 1954, 21 of the 26 officers of the battalion consisted of Malay officers replacing their British counterparts. Jeneral (Rtd) Tun Ibrahim Ismail was the first Malay Commanding Officer of the battalion, taking command from 11 August 1958 until 14 June 1960. He later went on to become the first Malay Chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces (now called Chief of Defence Forces)

The battalion is a Standard Infantry Battalion of the Malaysian Army. The battalion has participated in the Kris Mere exercises with the New Zealand Army the battalion was also deployed to The Congo as part of the Malayan Special Force serving under the United Nations Command.

7th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment

Military compound of the 7th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment in Tawau, Sabah.

17th Battalion Royal Malay Regiment

The 17th battalion, Royal Malay Regiment was formed on 1 August 1970. 17 RAMD is the elite forces and one of the PARATROOPER from 10 Brigade Airborne Paratrooper in the Malaysian Army. On 10 October 1994 – 17th PARA undertakes a rapid deployment exercise, supported by elements of the Malaysian Special Forces Group (Gerup Gerak Khas) and PASKAL and with operational support provided by the Royal Malaysian Navy and Royal Malaysian Air Force. The exercise centres around a scenario of the retaking of Langkawi International Airport from an invading force by the Rapid Deployment Force spearheaded by THE PARA.

Notable people

Lieutenant Adnan Saidi

Adnan Saidi led the reinforced 42-strong No.7 Platoon of 'C' Company, 1st Battalion of the Malay Regiment at the Bukit Chandu (Opium Hill) position on 12–14 February 1942. Although heavily outnumbered, Adnan refused to surrender and urged his men to fight until the end. They held off the Japanese for two days amid heavy enemy shelling and shortages of food and ammunition. Adnan was shot but carried on fighting. After the battle was lost, the wounded Adnan was taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers, who tied him to a cherry tree and bayoneted him to death. According to some, he was also slashed and his body parts were burnt. Adnan epitomises the bravery and tenacity of the Malay Regiment. Because of this, he is considered a hero by many Malaysians and Singaporeans today.

Kapten Hamid Awang

Based on intelligence gathered indicating that a force of 40 to 50 communist terrorists would converge on Gunung Pueh, “D” Company of 2 Royal Malay Regiment led by Kapten Hamid was tasked in a search and destroy mission.

On 7 April 1973, Kapten Hamid and his company detected a Communist Terrorist encampment. Kapten Hamid organised his company for an assault on the camp. Kapten Hamid fired an M79 grenade round to mark the start of the attack and rushed into the Communist Terrorist camp. In the heat of battle, a communist terrorist tried to shoot down one of Kapten Hamid's men. Kapten Hamid immediately rushed to the terrorist and hit the terrorist in the back of the neck with the M79 grenade launcher.

Kapten Hamid’s company scored 3 kills and captured 3 enemy weapons, as well as ammunition and assorted equipment. Kapten Hamid’s company suffered 1 KIA. Kapten Hamid was awarded the SP on 6 June 1973.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Malay Regiment.


  1. Major-General G. Mcl. S. Bruce, O. B. E. M. C. (retired); excerpt from article Trying it out with No. 1 Squad in Pahlawan, Vol. 1, Kuala Lumpur, 1952
  2. The Straits Times, 13 February 1967, Page 6, The fire and death on 'Opium Hill', Article also available on microfilm reel NL12190 (Lee Kong Chian Reference Library - On shelf) Archived 18 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Ashmore, et al.
  4. War and Memory in Malaysia and Singapore By Patricia Pui Huen Lim, Diana Wong, pg 151
  5. Defence & Decolonisation in South-East Asia By Karl Hack
  6. Hack, pg. 112
  7. Patricia Pui Huen Lim, Diana Wong pg 151
  8. "Royal Malay Regiment to guard Queen Elizabeth II". The Star. 7 April 2008.
  9. Shell Daruwala (2 May 2008). "First Muslim Battalion Guards the Queen" (archived at The National Archives). Ministry of Defence.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.