AWANG ANAK RAWENG
Awang anak Raweng, an Iban Scout from Sarawak in Borneo, won the George Cross for gallantry as recorded in the London Gazette on 20 November 1951. the only Sarawakian bestowed with the highest British gallantry award.King George bestowed the 83-year-old veteran from Nanga Skrang, Sri Aman with the George Cross on Nov 20, 1951 in recognition of his bravery in fighting the communists all by himself after he and four other British army personnel were ambushed in Kluang, Johor on May 27, 1951.
He was attached to 10 Platoon, ‘D’ Company, 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in Malaya when their jungle patrol was attacked by 50 communist terrorists in Johor, Malaya. Two members of the platoon, the leading scout and the section commander, were killed while Awang was wounded in the thigh. Despite his injury he pulled Private G. Hughes to cover. Awang returned fire, repulsing every attempt by the bandits to advance, despite suffering a severe wound to his right arm. As the bandits surrounded the injured pair, Awang clasped a grenade in his left hand and dared the bandits to attack him. He held off the communists for forty minutes, forcing them to withdraw and saved Private Hughes’s life.
His citation concluded “So resolute was his demeanour that the bandits, who had maintained their attacks for some forty minutes, and who were now threatened by the other sections, withdrew. The coolness, fortitude and offensive spirit displayed by Awang anak Rawang were of the highest order. Despite being twice severely wounded he showed the utmost courage and resolution to continue the fight and protect the injured soldier.” The insurgents were forced to retreat. Hughes was saved, although the other solider died from his wounds.
Ironically, while Awang’s gallantry had been celebrated worldwide, little was known about the Iban hero locally until recently, probably due to lost war records.
Awang, still attends the reunion of the Worchestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment every two years, has met Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and other British leaders. Thus, I personally proud and grateful that the British government still remembers him until today.
The George Cross (GC)
The George Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on the 24 September 1940.
King George VI had been greatly moved by the fortitude and courage displayed by many civilians and by those engaged in bomb and mine disposal duties during the Blitz, and wanted these outstanding acts of bravery to be suitably recognised. Several awards already existed for which civilians were eligible and which could also be given to servicemen and women for acts of great heroism performed in circumstances other than battle. These awards included the Empire Gallantry Medal, the Albert Medals for Saving Life on Land and at Sea and the Edward Medals for Mines and Industry, but none matched the distinction of the Victoria Cross. The King, with his advisors, decided to create a new decoration which would be equivalent in status with the VC.
The Empire Gallantry Medal was abolished and surviving holders, together with those who had been awarded it posthumously since the outbreak of war, had their medals exchanged for the George Cross. Awards of the Albert and Edwards Medals continued, but by the early 1970's it was acknowledged that there was little public appreciation of their importance. No further awards were made, and in 1971 it was announced that surviving holders of these medals would have their awards translated to the George Cross.
The George Cross was designed by Percy Metcalfe, CVO, RDI. and is made by the Royal Mint.
A total of 397 men and women plus 1 country (Malta) and 1 organisation (Royal Ulster Constabulary) have been award the George Cross.
There was no provision for the payment of any annuity contained in the original Warrant. However, from 4 February 1965 living holders of the GC were granted a tax-free annuity of 100. The figure remained at 100 until 15 August 1995 when it was raised to 1300.
Worcestershire Regiment men who were awarded the GC (George Cross)
The rank show in the table below is that which was held at the time the Order was awarded.
Name : Awang Anak Rawang
Rank : Iban Scout
London Gazette (date) : 20/11/1951
Awang Anak Rawang was an Iban Scout attached to 10 Platoon, 'D' Company, 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in Malaya. While patrolling in the jungle, 10 Platoon was ambushed by around 50 Communist bandits. Two men were killed and Awang and Private Hughes were wounded. Awang had been shot through the thigh, but managed drag Private Hughes into cover. He then defended Hughes and himself as the bandits moved in to finish them off. Eventually Awang was shot again, shattering his right arm. He then took a grenade in his left hand, held it up and dared the bandits to come and try to kill them. At this the bandits withdrew. Awang, despite his severe wounds, had held off their attacks for 40 minutes, and saved Hughes' life. For this he was awarded the George Cross, the civilian version of the V.C.
His full citation in The London Gazette reads:
AWANG anak RAWANG. Iban Tracker, Johore, Federation of Malaya.
During operations against the bandits in Malaya a section of a platoon of the Worcestersbire Regiment was ambushed by about 50 of the enemy. The leading scout was killed instantly and the Section Commander fatally wounded. Awang anak Rawang was hit through the thigh bone and at the same time a soldier, moving behind him, was hit below the knee, the bullet completely shattering the bone. Awang anak Rawang. although wounded and lying exposed under heavy rifle and automatic fire, collected his own weapons and that of the soldier and dragged him into the cover of the jungle. In view of the impending bandit attack Awaug. completely disregarding his own wound, took up a position to defend the injured man. There he remained, firing on every attempt made by the bandits to approach, and successfully drove off several attacks. Ultimately Awang was again wounded, the bullet shattering his right arm and rendering further use of his rifle or parang impossible. Despite loss of blood from his undressed wounds, be dragged himself over to the wounded soldier and took a grenade from the mans pouch. He resumed his position on guard, pulled out the pin of the grenade with his teeth and with the missile in his left band defied the bandits to approach. So resolute was his demeanour that the bandits, who had maintained their attacks for some forty minutes, and who were now threatened by the other sections, withdrew.
The coolness, fortitude and offensive spirit displayed by Awang anak Rawang were of the highest order. Despite being twice severely wounded he showed the utmost courage and resolution to continue the fight and protect the injured soldier.
Worcestershire Regimental History records the following action:
On 26th May 1951, 12 Platoon, D Company (2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, R.A.O.C. att. 1 Worc. R.) were encamped in some rubber on Ulu Paloh Estate, three miles West of Niyor. At about 1530 hours one of the platoon sentries was fired on by a party of eight terrorists. The sentry returned the fire and the terrorists withdrew in a North-Westerly direction. The Platoon Commander then took two sections in pursuit of the terrorists, but after making a wide circling movement through the jungle could find no trace of the enemy and returned to base.
The following morning (27th May) the Platoon Commander, with two sections, set out once more in search of the enemy. They moved due West into the jungle and followed a narrow track, which had jungle on the left and felled jungle on the high ground to the right. The track was used by woodcutters who were engaged in cutting the jungle further back,
Having moved about a quarter of a mile into the jungle, the leading section came under very heavy automatic fire from the front and left flank. The patrol went to ground and returned the fire. In the first few minutes Private Dykes, the leading scout, was killed. The section commander (Corporal Stanton), two more privates (Hughes and Payne), and the Iban tracker (Awang anak Rawang), were wounded. The Platoon Commander shouted several times to Corporal Stanton to withdraw his section, but he received no reply. 2/Lieut. Morris then moved back and deployed the rear section to the left; they then engaged the terrorists as best they could. 2/Lieut. Morris moved forward again to investigate the state of the leading section. During this time he fired two complete magazines from his carbine. The Platoon Commander was killed shortly afterwards, but the Platoon fought on for about forty minutes, when the terrorists withdrew.
The sound of the firing had been heard back at the Company base, and the Company Commander, with two platoons, moved out and arrived at the scene of the action about an hour later.
During the action Private Hughes fell wounded in the middle of the track, and Awang anak Rawang, the Iban tracker, although wounded himself and lying in an exposed position, dragged Private Hughes under cover of a fallen tree. From behind the tree Awang defended Hughes and continued to engage the terrorists when they tried to approach. For his gallantry Awang anak Rawang was subsequently awarded the George Cross. He was the first, and at the time of writing the only, Iban tracker to receive such an honour.
The casualties in the action were 2/Lieut. W. O. Morris, Corporal B. Stanton and Private N. Dykes killed, and the wounded were Private G. Hughes, Private N. Payne and the Iban. The enemy lost three killed, including Lap Kwang, the company commander and a terrorist leader of repute. The terrorists numbered about fifty and were later identified as 3 Platoon and 7 Platoon, 4 Company, of the 9th Regiment. The two sections of 12 Platoon had a total strength of between fifteen and twenty.