|9 Nov 2023|
|Notable RMAS Alumni|
|Sandhurst Tour Guides PRIVATE GROUP|
At a centenary birthday high tea organised by the Royal Malay Regiment Officers Club at the defence ministry in Kuala Lumpur, a cheerful Manan said he felt greatly blessed by God for his longevity, especially having survived many life-threatening episodes during his military career.
Notably, he and his best friend “Robert” Shukor Chik were Malaya’s first cadets at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in 1950, both entering Waterloo Company.
Two years of training ended on 2nd August 1951 when he, Chik and his fellow officer cadets commissioned as part of Sovereign’s Parade – Intake 7. The parade was taken by General Sir John Crocker. G.C.B.. K.B.E .D.S.O . M.C. Adjutant-General to the Forces and for the first time since the outbreak of the First World War, "blues" were worn on ceremonial parade at Sandhurst.
Manan said he had been leading a reconnaissance platoon as a sergeant in Hulu Grik, Perak, 74 years ago when he received a highly coded signal that changed his destiny.
“Shukor and I were summoned by visiting field marshal Sir William Slim and made our way to the 12th brigade headquarters in Seremban. We crossed several rapids in heavily infested enemy territory to reach the British Commonwealth’s command in three days.
“We had no clue why we were ordered to expeditiously make our way there. It was only later that we learnt of our selection to Sandhurst, and left for England almost immediately.”
Manan said he felt fortunate to have been selected for RMAS. While “inspired and excited, we were anxious, not knowing what to expect on our first overseas trip”.
One of his strongest memories was marching up the steps at the RMAS’ Sovereign’s Parade for his commissioning.
“We were finally officers and gentlemen after the long journey of quality training at the oldest military academy in the world,”
Sandhurst, he noted, instilled discipline, determination, courage, leadership, intellect, and professional competency in the Malayan cadets to face the challenges that would lie ahead.
“Many of us had nicknames like Jack, Jeff, Muzie, Harry, Ramzie, John, Russ, Eddie, Ben and Johnny, for simplified identification with our British instructors,”
Manan’s moniker, of course, was Alan.
A gallant cross to bear
On Aug 11, 1954, Manan was bestowed the British Armed Forces’ Military Cross for gallantry, having commanded a reconnaissance platoon to eliminate the Communist Party of Malaya’s Sempalit branch near Raub, Pahang. British high commissioner to Malaya Sir Donald MacGillivray presented the award to Manan on behalf of Queen Elizabeth.
Sadly, Manan’s best friend Shukor was killed in an ambush by communist terrorists in Manchis, Pahang, in 1956 at age 35.
Manan retired as a major on Oct 31, 1969 after 23 years of service. He met his wife Ellen Mary Ryan Ainin Abdullah, who had been teaching at Godwin Girls College in Margate, England, during his RMAS days.
Married for 70 years, they have three sons: Norman, Nordin and Allan. Ellen joined in the festivities at Manan’s birthday bash alongside their granddaughter Adriana Nordin Manan and son Allan; while veteran crooner DJ Dave serenaded Manan with nostalgic numbers.
Happy Birthday Sir from all at the Sandhurst Trust and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Source Reference: www.freemalaysiatoday.com
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