Monday, 5 September 2011

Sarawak Rangers

Raja James Brooks, Sarawak

Sarawak Rangers under the White Raja

James Brook was made Raja of Sarawak, 24 September 1841. When he was Raja, he was accused of using excessive force against the natives under the guise of anti-piracy operations.

Sarawak then had pirates infested the coast and Dayak headhunters dominated interiors and were addicted to fighting, raids and plunder

Brook recruited a band of followers and mercenaries that evolved into a private army

1840 – A regular army began in 1840’s with 24 men under a native officer who served in the Ceylon Rifles (Malays that served the Dutch when they held Ceylon. The Ceylon Rifles were disbanded when the British took over)

1862 – The regular army or Central Military Force, expanded as men were recruited to garrison the coastal and river points and to pacify the interior. This force was named the ‘Sarawak Fort Men’.

1872 – The Sarawak Fort Men became the Sarawak Rangers comprised of coastal Malays and Dayaks from the jungles.

1902 – The Sarawak Rangers were commanded by British Officers, with the help of Indian and Javanese NCOs.

1907 – The Rangers had 458 Other Ranks including 290 Dayaks, 52 Malaya, 40 Javanese and 66 Indians. A band with 17 Filipinos completed the little army

1923 – Javanese and Chinese rioted and order restored after the Rangers and police killed 13 protestors

1930 – The Rangers strength increased to 540 men. Due to sharp drop in rubber prices, the Sarawak Rangers were disbanded in Feb 1932. Some were transferred to the Sarawak Police to form a military wing – Section B.

1939 – The Sarawak Rangers was revived and mobilized for the defence of Borneo, and formed part of the Garrison stationed in Kuching, Sarawak

Extracted from Forgotten Regiments, by Barry Renfrew

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