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|Tuesday, 8-Dec-2009 00:25
WORLD WAR II IN KELATTÉ : Hello Gong Limau, Goodbye Pak Amat ...
WORLD WAR II IN KELATTÉ :
Hello Gong Limau,
Goodbye Pak Amat .....
Today, 8th of December 2009, marks the 68th year since the Imperial Japanese Army made the historical, not-so-surprise landing on the shore of Kuala Pak Amat in Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu.
This initial attack on British position started just 90 minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbour began, and is now claimed by more and more war historians to be the real spark that ignited World War II in the Pacific, instead of the overly publicized Pearl Harbour ....
By December 9 1941, with an additional reinforcement troops, the Japanese moved
into Kota Bharu town after occupying the Pengkalan Chepa airport a day earlier. The
British continued their withdrawal to Kuala Krai and then to Terengganu. By 22
December 1941, the Japanese completely occupied Kelantan. Although Japanese
attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 7 December 1941, due to the time difference,
the Japanese actually attacked Kota Bharu one and a half hours earlier.
Source : http://www.pacificwrecks.com/provinces/malaysia.html
The landing marked the beginning of Japanese takeover of the entire Malay Archipelago and the end of the British Empire in the East. The rest, like you and me already know, is history, which is currently either being thought at schools in various versions or exaggerated in Western movies and documentaries.
Looking back, the invasion took place just minutes after midnight, in a pitch dark moonless night, during the height of the year's monsoon season. It was immediately met with fierce resistance from the awaiting British force. Reliable sources dictate that the British fired first, resulting the Japanese to lose one transport ship ( the Awajisan Maru ) off the coast of Kuala Pak Amat. Casualties were heavy on both sides but is said to be greater on the Japanese, but somehow the invasive force managed to push through the defender's line, across the minefields and barbed wires and took their first prize in the Malayan Campaign, the British military airstrip of Pengkalan Chepa.
The British, on the other hand, managed to retreat further inland, leaving behind their previously heavily guarded front line positions, that included a number of scattered but strategically positioned pillboxes, among which, one that I recently found in Gong Limau, a small Chinese burial ground enclave just across the road from the former airstrip, now a civilian airport ...
While this lone pillbox somehow survived the test of time and development activities, other pillboxes were not faring as good. Some were already destroyed to give way to modern day constructions while many were mercilessly dragged into the sea, by coastal erosion which is still ravaging the entire length of Kelantanese coastline. Ferociously gorging the famous beaches of Kelantan including the first landing site - Pantai Kuala Pak Amat.
It's kinda sad that it has to be like this, ironically when it is possible to do something about it. While World War II famous battlegrounds in Europe is being preserved for the current and future generation to learn a lesson from, we are losing ours in Malaysia, particularly Kuala Pak Amat in Kelantan, the first landing point cum battleground during the Malayan Campaign, at speed faster than previously expected.
The site is currently in total mess, in a very sad and disappointing state.
Debris of many sort, consisting mainly of fallen, dead coconut tree trunks which used to line the shore, now littered the landscape. Seriously ravaged by erosion, even a War Memorial, placed there few years back by the local authority, had joined some of the front-line pillboxes on the sea floor. The locals are not spared either. Most houses, had gone into the sea, crushed by the waves, leaving only a handful of houses now waiting for their turn, with some already left emptied by their worried inhabitants ...
Now, while I am glad to find another still-in-good-shape pillbox to add to my ' personal findings ' list, I am also at the same time, feeling quite devastated by the current condition of Pantai Kuala Pak Amat ...
While I am saying hello to Gong Limau ...
.. perhaps I should say good bye to Kuala Pak Amat ...
... this time, maybe for good ~
* ~ sigh ~
* The Pillbox of Gong Limau ...
... is now standing within a perimeter of a house.
The house, believed to be a squatter, was built next to it some time ago and was
eventually extended to include this pillbox as a part of its wall. Interestingly, during my
visit, the owner voluntarily exclaimed that no harm was done, or intended on the structure.
Indeed, unlike the http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=521832(one by the Kelantan River) or the http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=605085(one, now gone at Taman Bendahara),
the pillbox is still in an excellent shape and condition. Except for the piles of rubbish
dumped inside, the structure is much like it was when first built by the British just days
before the Japanese landed nearby.
* The pillbox largest loophole ...
.. is the most distinctive in shape and of course, in size.
It was probably meant for machine gun placement - either for the commonly issued
British Bren Gun or the less likely American made Browning M1919.
I like how they engineered the pillbox, though a simple structure, entirely consists of
carefully arranged blocks of reinforced concrete, the design and emplacement each
loophole is truly worth studying. Like the one shown above, were designed so that the
gunner could take corner shot without taking in return fire from the same corner.
* The entrance into the pillbox ....
... as seen behind the potted plants, partly covered by the small tree.
The yellow wall on the right is a part of the extended house.
* The inside look of the pillbox
Good condition, except for the overwhelming piles of rubbish, old tires and other
unwanted items. An excellent " hideout " for snakes and other venomous creepy
crawlies. An eye-sore for sure ...
Considering of my own well being, I decided not to venture deeper and only managed
to take a couple of shots of the inside from this angle.
* Present day Pantai Kuala Pak Amat ....
Honestly, this is not the actual landing point.
The true " Kuala Pak Amat " which saw the first landing is now a point somewhere
a mile from the current shoreline. However, since it is a part of the attack route
where the fiercest battle took place and in fact, is still technically a part of Kuala Pak
Amat itself, it would still be perfectly okay to regard it as the " first landing point ".
Believe it or not, this area was once a fertile farmland, which sat on a higher ground
on thick layer of alluvial clay. The locals worked the land with paddy and vegetables
until erosion started to set in, about decade or so ago, giving way to sea water to
enter the area and poisoned the earth.
Now, the erosion had reduced the once fertile stretch into the above sight, somewhat
lifeless sandy terrain with dead tree trunks and plant debris, as far as the eyes could
* A gazebo, seemingly waiting for a plunge
This is not a scene from Baywatch and Pamela Anderson surely did not need a
gazebo as her lookout point.
This gazebo is actually one of the now remaining two ( the other is just behind the two
standing men ) from the original three (?) that used to make up the Kuala Pak Amat
Japanese Landing Memorial Site, which originally consisted of a memorial stone
topped with ship gun replicas, an " altar " and some gazebos, built by the local authority
to commemorate the historical landing.
The following photo, taken from an article previously published in The Star Online
( October 2, 2009 ), shows the memorial site before it disappeared beneath the waves :
* click photo for the original source ...
* Parts of a pre-war culvert ....
... which was built by a Japanese spy, known simply among the locals as ' Ayah Kawa '
( probably a corrupted Japanese surname of " Ayukawa " = Japanese : 鮎川 @ アユカワ ).
The Japanese Military had been planning the landing for many months prior.
For that, they planted a network of Japanese spies in the area, operated by Japanese
nationals who supplied steady streams of specific information back to Japan, on the
local geography, British military installations, their movements and other things
crucial for an invasion plan.
Interestingly, the spies albeit being Japanese ( whom the British must have grown
pretty suspicious of ), played along by " masking " their espionage activities
with innocent daily businesses, from selling sweets to offering haircuts to the locals.
The following excerpt explains :
"They worked as barbers, photographers, pottery makers, cake vendors,
miners and fishermen.
"Two of these spies in Kelantan were known as Ayah Kawa and Tok Kelepet.
"They were friendly with the locals and spoke the Kelantanese dialect fluently.
"Ayah Kawa made a culvert for irrigating the padi fields and this is still in use
today at Kuala Pa' Amat."
Mustapha said Tok Kelepet used to bake and sell kuih klepet (love letters) on
his bicycle around the village. He gave them away to children for free.
" Japanese had planted spies in Kota Baru ", The New Straits Times, 28 Jan 2009
* What now left of Kuala Pak Amat's Tiram Beach Resort ...
.. are only ruins of its once beautiful wooden chalets and a stagnant pool colonized
by mudskippers ... on adrenaline !
The owner might be in a devastated state as the beach itself.
WORLD WAR II IN KELANTAN :
The followings are my previous entries on World War II in Kelantan and things related :
WWII British Pillboxes in Kelantan :
( that I have found and documented in the past )
20 Jun 2008 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=1550022(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Pantai Irama & Pantai Pulau Belongan ( 2 ))
8 Dec 2007 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=1316220(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : The Pillbox of Pantai Kundor)
8 DEC 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=986705(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Pantai Irama & Pantai Pulau Belongan , Bachok)
20 AUG 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=1176088(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Jubakar, Tumpat)
8 DEC 2005 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=636889(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu)
11 AUG 2005 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=521832(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Jalan Tok Hakim, Kota Bharu )
10 AUG 2005 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=520054(WORLD WAR 2 PILLBOX IN KELANTAN : Pantai Melawi, Bachok )
WWII Related Stuffs :
20 AUG 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=825445(( 2 ) MENJEJAK KISAH AL-HADID : ~ Dari Temangan ke Jubakar ~)
19 AUG 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=889737(( 1 ) MENJEJAK KISAH AL-HADID : ~ Dari Temangan ke Jubakar ~)
7 JUN 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=818662(Meet The Guillemard !)
30 APR 2006 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=784346(WORLD WAR 2 IN JAPAN : A visit to Yasukuni Shrine & Yushukan ( Japanese War Memorial ))
5 NOV 2005 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=605085(IMPERIALISM : What did we learn ?)
10 MAR 2005 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=375689(WORLD WAR 2 BATTLE GROUND IN KELANTAN : Sabak Beach)
4 JAN 2004 : http://raykinzoku.fotopages.com/?entry=31399(WORLD WAR 2 IN JAPAN : Hiroshima ~ The Beginning Of The End)
SUGGESTED READINGS :
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/7/19/nation/18343822&sec=nation(The Star Online, July 19 - 2007, " Erosion swallows up historic WWII site ")
http://travel.nst.com.my/Current_News/TravelTimes/article/FeatureStory/20060829120940/Article/index_html(Sager Ahmad, John Tiong, " End of Western rule ", NST Online)
http://utuhpaloi.xbrain.biz/general-yamashita-the-tiger-of-malaya(General Yamashita - the master deceiver)
http://zaf-malaya.blogspot.com(Zaf-Malaya's Blog : The Last Fortress)
TRIVIA : " WAHAI TIKAR PANDAN TERBANG ! "
Wahai tikar pandan terbang !
Bawaklah kami ke negara Pasir Berdenguu~ng !
Zam zam alla kazam !
Miyo toukai no sora akete
Kyoku jitsu takaku kagayakeba
Tenchi no seiki hatsuratsu to
Kibou wa odoru oyashima
Kami tiga sahabat
nasib timbul tenggelam
Susah hanya sekejap
senang pun tak lama .....
" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laksamana_Do_Re_Mi(Laksamana Do Re Mi) " - P.Ramlee, A.R. Tompel, Ibrahim Din ( 1972 )
When the late Tan Sri P.Ramlee sang the song, together with the late
A.R. Tompel and Ibrahim Din in the above scene from Laksamana Do Re Mi (1972),
many, especially younger audiences thought that the trio made it up to mock a
Japanese song while some even saw it as another brilliant gibberish born
from the director's ( P.Ramlee ) witty mind.
But in fact, they were actually singing to the tune of a well known, most famous Japanese
war-time patriotic song called " http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fja.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2F%25E6%2584%259B%25E5%259B%25BD%25E8%25A1%258C%25E9%2580%25B2%25E6%259B%25B2&sl=ja&tl=en(Aikoku Koushinkyoku) " ( 愛国行進曲 ) i.e. the " Patriotic March ".
P.Ramlee had adopted the first opening four lines and had them incorporated into his
own amusing lines in Malay. Though the combination does not make any sense at
all apart from being hilarious, they did have the wordings correct, with amazingly
accurate pronunciation !
The Japanese military first introduced the Aikoku Koushinkyoku to Tanah Melayu
during their 4 years of occupation. It was taught to the masses particularly at schools.
At the time, the locals were expected to know it, to sing it or at least to stand up to the
song with full respect. It was however, not the Japanese national anthem ( which was
and still is the Kimigayo ) but it was projected to a level almost as equal by the
Japanese militarism, with the intention of invoking pride and fighting spirit among
the Japanese ( particularly the soldiers ) as well as instilling the anti-Western
stance among the locals under their " Asia for Asians " banner.
For those who lived through the era as a teenager or an adult or even as a child, the
song was nothing strange. It was so forced upon the population that it literally stuck
to their minds and is still much memorized and recognizable by the survivors today,
long after the war had ended, like to P.Ramlee and his companions. The three
surely sang it from their memories !
This is the original version of the song, from a 1943 war-time Japanese film :
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkuullDKSLw(A better one,) a 1938 Japanese war propaganda film, showing the technological
progress and political gain achieved by Japanese industries and war machines,
with the song streaming in the background.
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CpcztEOSrs(Or here), the karaoke version of it ( with voice though ). Recommended for those
who could read Japanese.
* The whole http://rasiel.web.infoseek.co.jp/en/aikokukoshinkyoku.htm(translation ( with download-able mp3 too ! ))