Here I am in front of a packed stadium at The First Malaysian Games being presented with my gold medal by the king of Malaysia. What a great honour it was. I have to thank the authorities in Perak and Malaya for allowing me to participate in this, their first Malaysia Games. The regiment gave me such fantastic support in everything I did and competed in so I am very grateful for that also.
Before leaving Malaysia, I had one more Commonwealth Forces Championship in Malacca to compete in and I felt that I could do well in it despite being told “You’ve done enough.” Only I could know how I felt and what I was capable of doing. My training made me feel I could do so much more and I had gained tremendously in strength and determination. I stuck with my same training programme, still playing for the state in cricket and hockey and for the state and regimental cross-country road races. Also I played for the band team in the inter-squadron basketball, volleyball and athletics championships and we won in all three. In the inter-squadron cross-country championships I was competing against my big rival Charlie Allen. It was a tough race. Charlie was determined to beat me but he didn’t manage to do so. I won, shocking many people who never thought of me as a cross-country runner, but it had been the basis of all my training. It was where I got my strength and stamina from for all my other sports. I always believed I could win any challenge I accepted, regardless of the prowess of the opponent. Suppiah thought I was crazy to take part in the inter-state cross country championships representing Perak but I enjoyed running any distance. Besides this I played handball and did some extra shot-put practice.
I played in the regimental football team in all their many local and military matches. I loved the camaraderie and the training we did for football as well as the matches themselves. Our biggest success was winning The Calbeck Cup (which was the Far East Cup for all the military forces). I was also selected for the Commonwealth Forces Hockey team and competed in that against the Australian and New Zealand regiments where I was never in a losing team. It was during this time that I made some very good friend in our sister regiment, The 3rd Australian Regiment and the New Zealand Regiment. I stayed with Australian families whose hospitality, friendship and way of life I really enjoyed. I also made friends with most of the New Zealand regiment, especially the Maoris who accepted me like one of their own and arranged various celebrations to honour my winning so many Commonwealth Forces medals. They almost convinced me I had Maori blood! There were so many functions to attend and requests to compete in various sporting events, all of which I accepted and was allowed by the regiment to do so. I particularly liked competing against the Ghurka regiments. I admired their determination and sportsmanship whether they won, lost or drew, they were all good sports even though I was never in a losing team. They never cheered or showed any emotion, but I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were pleased to see me do well. I never accepted any invitations to their social functions but always accepted their invitations to do sporting events. One memorable incident was when we had to play against them in a hockey final and I hit the ball into their goal-keeper’s mouth, knocking out eight of his teeth. Luckily, a military dentist was present who quickly removed the loose teeth. We all expected the goalie to follow the medic’s advice to leave the pitch and be replaced by another player, but this brave, tough Ghurka insisted on continuing to play for the rest of the match with blood streaming down his face, occasionally wiping it away. Later I asked how he was and if he was well. I was told he was fine and his missing teeth would be replaced. He wasn’t angry with me as he accepted it as a risk in sport.
At last the time for the Commonwealth Forces Championship in Athletics had arrived. I intended to go and enjoy myself in Malacca. The press tried to get me to make statements but this time I followed regimental advice and ignored the press or kept out of their way. I stayed with the Australian trumpet player, Dennis and his wife, whom I had befriended at previous competitions with the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment. Their hospitality in their married quarters was second to none. There was no decathlon to compete in but I had a very successful championship in the individual events I entered, winning the 100m, long jump, high jump and shot and coming second in the triple jump. That was the last major fixture I took part in before leaving Malaya. Life couldn’t have been better and I felt a little sad at the thought of leaving Malaya for good. The rest of my time had been spent saying goodbye’s to all my friends and attending farewell functions at the various sporting organisations. It was a very emotional time for me. Many offers were made for me to stay on in Malaya. I was offered Malaysian citizenship. I didn’t understand all these formalities, the people in high positions coming to me and putting pressure on me to stay in Malaya and compete in their sport.
“I want my children to be educated in England,” I said. “I need to consider my wife in this as she is German and our next posting will be back in Germany with her family nearby.” I didn’t really feel that I belonged to Malaya, so it was the politest way I could think of to decline these offers.
In the band throughout our time in the country, I had been getting lots of experience. I had been guided through my first set of music exams while we were on a duty tour in Singapore in our second year there, by Band Master Patch who had been in charge of us throughout our tour in Malaya. We had played at the Sultan’s Palace in Brunei and many other important and prestigious venues as well as the lesser ones, so by 1964 when we had to leave, I was getting to be a better musician and had now qualified for my ‘A’ trades pay as a musician.
My family and I were at last taken to Ipoh station where we would board the train for Kuala Lumpur and thence to Singapore for our flight back to England via Istanbul. Lots of local people were on the platform waiting to say their goodbyes to me as we boarded the train. They brought so many gifts which we couldn’t take with us. It got too much for me and I was relieved when the train pulled away. I had achieved so much in those last three years and would treasure the memories, but now I was moving on to a new chapter in my life back in Europe.
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