The Malay Regiment
1890s – Plan to recruit Malays for companies of ‘ Submarine Miners’- to work with Naval Mines to serve in Singapore, Hong Kong, Ceylon; the scheme fell apart when Malays declined to sign up.
1913 – Formal proposal for regular Malay Regiment was presented to the Federated Malay States Legislative Council. Dropped because of outbreak of WW1
1920 – Federal Government acknowledged the idea and was considered
1925 – The proposal was referred to the War Office in London for further study
1931 – The Sultans in the Malay States demanded decisions for the proposals as they were tired of paying for Indian Army to garrison the colony. Indian Officials would never fix a cost for the Indian Unit and kept sending unexpected additional bills. Malays could do a better job at less cost.
1932 – Small experimental Malay unit was formed and was given 6 months to prove its value. More than 1,000 Malays apply for 25 places. Well educated and promising young men of higher classes were encouraged to apply
Capt G Bruce, Lincolnshire Regiment was given command, with Capt K E Exham from the Malacca Volunteer Corps as regimental adjutant. RSM A E Mc Carthy and CSM E Oldfield (Instructors with the Volunteer Force) completed the training team. The British Officers and NCOs have to combine British Army Standards with Malay Culture to produce Military Ethos.
1933 1 Mar, Recruits and trainers assembled and trained in huts in Port Dickson that have been used by FMSVF units on weekend courses.
1934 The Government announced that the experiment was a success and a full Battalion of the The Malay Regiment was formed on 1 Jan 1935, the motto “Loyal and True”
1937 The Malay Regiment became the Federated Malay States garrison unit when the Burma Rifles left and was running NCO courses for local volunteer forces
Malay officers held commissions from the Federated Malay States High Commissioner rather than the British Crown and had lower wages. A British Sergeant-major received S$375 a month vs. Malay with the same rank receiving S$55 per month
1938 With the success of the Malay Regiment, The British Army recruited Malays to form the Malay Sappers with 1,000 men as part of the Royal Engineers. The unit manned searchlights and was moved to the Royal Artillery in 1941
1938 As an acceptance of the Malay Regiment, the 1st Battalion came under the command of the new 1st Malaya Infantry Brigade with the 2nd Battalion Loyal Regiment and the 1st Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment
1941 March, The 2nd Battalion Malay Regiment was formed. A regimental Depot was established to train recruits for the two battalions. Experienced officers and men were transferred from the 1st Battalion to help organize and lead the new unit.
Dec 1941 the 2nd Battalion Malay Regiment was operational ready. The 1st Battalion was to guard the southern coasts of Singapore and A company and D company from the 2nd Battalion was sent to fortify Kelantan and Province of Wellesley respectively.
Extracted from Forgotten Regiments, by Barry Renfrew