Hill 200, Ulu Pandan IV (Mapanyang) 12th February 1942
On 11/2/1942 Lt-Colonel M.J. Anketell, Commanding Officer of 2/4th MG Battalion was ordered to equip all machine gunners of his battalion he could possibly muster (many soldiers had been injured, were lost or whereabouts unknown and others had been killed in action – Japanese invasion began 8 Feb 1942.) He was to send them forward to fight as infantry on the 22nd Australian and 44th Indian Brigade’s fronts.
During the day Australians and Indians had little respite from Japanese gun and mortar fire as well as enemy air attacks.
The first solid group to arrive at 22nd Brigade’s front was a mixed company of about 90 2/4th machine gunners. Progress had been slow due to enemy air activity, but they managed to occupy Hill 200, Ulu Pandan IV at 1700 hours.
At about the same time the Signals No. 1 and AA No. 2 Platoons under the command of Capt. McEwin also took up positions approximately 300 yards south of feature Hill 200 atop a small hill. By 0930 hours on the morning of 12th February the 2/4th made up about half of the total Australian strength of 800 men.
During the nights of 11th-12th February Australian artillery did a good job of keeping the enemy quiet. However the next day was a different story. The Japanese 18th Division succeeded in pushing between Australian and Indian positions near Ulu Pandan-Holland Road junction. In an attempt to get behind 22nd Brigade’s position the Japanese began an infiltration movement around the northern flank of the machine gunners on Ulu Pandan IV.
In their attempt to outflank the Australians, the enemy had moved into a long gully between the Gordon Highlander’s position and those of the 2/4th on Ulu Pandan IV. Two detachments of machine gunners were sent to an area in the vicinity of a railway bridge on Holland Road. They moved in the gully and halted any further penetration by the enemy. All efforts by the Japanese to occupy this high feature had been thwarted and had to remain content to pour in machine gun, mortar and spasmodic artillery fire to little effect.
Just before midday on 12th Feb, the enemy attempted to bring forward reinforcements from north by truck. This convoy ran into trouble in the shape of an armoured car detachment led by Cpl. Oliver Stanwell. Cpl. Stanwell’s crew destroyed the reconnaissance car and 13 trucks by the time they had finished their work. This action had successfully blocked the road to the enemy for some time.
Cpl. Oliver Stanwell several later lost his life with ‘E’ Force in Borneo.
By 1500 hours on 12th Feb the Japanese had broken through the Indians and captured Hill 150. This necessitated an adjustment to the 2/18th Battalion’s position to counter the enemy’s flanking manouvre. At about 1700 hours a patrol sighted some stationery Japanese transport vehicles – indicating the enemy had brought up fresh troops with the intention of moving in behind the left flank of 2/18th Battalion’s position. By 1800 hours heavy fire was being taken to the left rear of 2/18th Battalion however, the fire was heavier on the 2/4th MG Battalion’s position on Ulu Pandan IV.
By this time the Japanese had captured Hill 130 providing them excellent cover and the reason this feature would have been too costly in lives to regain. At dusk it was decided to reform the line by slightly withdrawing the left flank of 2/4th MG Battalion and filling the gap between 2/4th and 2/18th with another composite unit. Between 1700 and 2000 hours a great deal of action developed forward of 2/4th positions, the situation was becoming serious. The hills opposite the 2/4th on Hill 200, Ulu Pandan IV were literally infested with enemy who were too far away to harm with small arms and machine gun fire. A CDF (Call for Defensive Fire) from artillery was made but because of poor signal communications these guns could not be ranged in accurately on the enemy – an ideal opportunity to inflict heavy loss upon the Japanese was lost.
The Australians were now experiencing their first taste of the 150mm (5.9 inch) mortar nicknamed the ‘flying pig’. The pig was in fact the Model 93 (1933) smooth bore muzzle loaded mortar that had a range of 2,100 metres. The projectile for this weapon weighed 56lbs and contained 14lbs of explosives. The ‘flying pig’ is really renowned for the noise it made when its missile was airborne and for huge hole it made in the earth when it landed. It couldn’t be said this weapon ever inflicted any harm upon 2/4th men, but it certainly must have terrified many. It was about 2130 hours that Lt-Col Anketell was badly wounded.
Capt. Colin Cameron had accompanied the Colonel around his ‘C’ Company area. Because ‘C’ Company had lost hills L, K and H Lt-Col Anektell, Capt. Cameron and Major Robertson who was commanding a company from 2/20th Battalion, were on reconnaissance to define a new perimeter. Capt. Cameron reported to Major Cough, ‘D’ Company that the Colonel had been badly wounded by mortar or artillery shell burst. The R.M.O. Capt. Anderson dressed the Colonel’s wounds and sent him back to Alexandra Hospital. Meanwhile the battle to hold Ulu Pandan had only just begun. The following is taken from Col. Thyer’s report provides a good description of events as they affected the 2/4th.
‘Neither the noise tactics nor the intensity of hostile fire perturbed the machine-gunners who waited patiently until the enemy came to within 150 yards and then opened up a steady and concentrated fire on the crowded enemy. Those who got through this barrage of rifle and machine –gun bullets were dealt with by hand grenades. One Japanese attack after another was thrown back with heavy losses. Shortly afterwards Brigade orders to withdraw were issued, but it was not until 2200 hours that the Bn. Received its instructions.
By this time the enemy had gained the lower slopes of Pandan IV and Hill 130 from which was pouring small arms fire into the rear of ‘C’ Company and on a smaller knoll 300 yards to the south. The battalion closed into a tighter perimeter stubbornly resisting the enemy’s attacks. In the heavy fighting this unit suffered heavily in killed and wounded, including in the latter was Lt-Col Anketell, the CO, who later died of wounds.
By this time the MG Bn was completely surrounded and because it its inability to organize a detachment to cover the withdrawal it was obvious that the battalion was not yet out of danger. To relieve the pressure a counter-attack with bayonet was put in and the Japanese put to fight. In every encounter with the A.I.F. they would not face the bayonet.’
Capt. McEwin had reformed his Signals (No, 1 Platoon) and AA Platoons (No. 2) on the track near the road and led them up to a point opposite Hill 200 where he attacked with both platoons. The Japanese were holding the northeast slope of the hill and the attack pushed back to the crest. Some 2/4th were killed and there were many wounded in this attack. The wounded were sent back. Capt. McEwin pushed on again to take the crest of the hill with what is believed to have been about 20 men. On reaching the crest they attempted to consolidate their old pits, but the enemy came back strongly and only about 4 or 5 machine gunners came out.
‘With the aid of the damaged trucks placed across the road, 4 officers and 3 other ranks covered the withdrawal of 50 or more casualties to the Regimental Aid Post. By 0300 hours on the 13th Feb, the battalion now reduced to 250 all ranks was back on Cemetery Hill near Buona Vista Road triangle where it bivouacked for a well-earned respite. The West Australians had acquitted themselves magnificently. During the critical hours between 1700 hours and 2300 hours they had been supported by artillery, who despite the fact that their range was at times so short that the rounds fell among our troops, did invaluable work in relieving the pressure on Pandan IV.’
43 2/4th Machine Gunners were KIA or died of Wounds received at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan on 11th, 12th February 1942
WX239 ABERLE, John Roughton – ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon 12 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan
WX9828 ADAMS, Arthur Alfred – ‘C’ Coy 11 Platoon 11 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan
WX3376 ANKETELL, Michael Joseph CO Battalion HQ Wounded 12 Feb Ulu Pandan. DOW 13 Feb
WX8650 BISHOP, Hector John – HQ No. 3 12 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan
WX7947 BROWN, Allan Roy – HQ 3 Platoon 12 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX7469 BUTLER, Thomas Joseph HQ No. 3 Platoon 12 Feb Recd Chest wound Hill 200, Ulu Pandan d. 14 Feb
WX17860 CAIN, Henry David – ‘A’ Coy HQ 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX7479 CANNON, Reginald Francis – HQ No. 1 Signals 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX8192 CARLISLE, Robert James – ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon 11 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX11584 CASE, William Cecil – ‘C’ Coy HQ 12 Feb Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX7163 CLARE, John – ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon 11 Feb Ulu Pandan
WX3446 CURNOW, Francis Lyle C.O. HQ 1 Signals 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX9561 DAHLBERG, Albert Edward – 88 LAD 10 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX10114 EASTWOOD, Harold – HQ 1 Pl Signals 10 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX7620 EDWARDS, Thomas Henry ‘D’ 16 Ptn 0500 hours 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan– Wounded in trench by shell burst from enemy artillery fire at Hill 200, Ulu Pandan. Stretcher bearers carried him to RAP 100 yards away. Capt Anderson 2/4th, pronounced Edwards dead.
WX9039 FITZPATRICK, Richard Newell HQ Sgt Transport No. 3 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX9062 GOSSAGE, George John – HQ No. 1 Signals 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX15872 GRAY, Lindsay Campbell – HQ No. 2 AA 12 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX10678 HANSEN, Benjamin Edwin – HQ Sgt No.1 12 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX11202 HAYES, Keith Thomas – ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon 12 Feb KIA Killed 200, Ulu Pandan
WX9755 HELLIWELL, Leonard – ‘C’ Coy HQ 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX5181 HOWELL, Kenneth Jack – ‘C’ Coy 10 Platoon 11 Feb KIA West Ulu Pandan
WX9552 INNES, William Leonard – HQ Sgt. 2 AA 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan (replaced L/Sgt Phillips)
WX8484 MANNING, Herbert John ‘A’ 4 Ptn C/O Lt. 12 Feb DOW Hill 200, Ulu Pandan (took command of No. 4 Platoon originally shared with Lt. McCaffery)
WX3442 McEWIN, Oswald Sydney – Company HQ, CO, Capt 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX98787 MUSSMAN, Alfred Charles – ‘C’ 11 Platoon 11 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX12628 OLIVER, Stirling John – ‘C’ Coy HQ Act. Corp 11 Feb WIA Ulu Pandan, DOW 13 Feb
WX9129 OVENS, Enest Jesse – HQ 1 Ptn Signals 12 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan (Signaller)
WX7458 PEAT, Leonard Oswald Co HQ 12 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan, Reformatory Road
WX10389 PHILLIPS, Cecil Allen – HQ 2 Pl AA L/Sgt 12 Feb KIA Ulu Pandan, Reformatory Road (Sgt HQ Coy 2 Pl AA)
WX15829 RADBURN, Harold ‘A’ Coy HQ 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan (Reif)
WX10793 ROWELL, Edward John – ‘C’ Coy 11 Ptn Cpl 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX9383 ROYCE, John Douglas HQ 2 Pl AA C.O. Lt. 12 Feb DOW Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX8646 SPOUSE, Arthur Percival ‘C’ Coy 12 Pln L/Corp 12 Feb KIA Possibly Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX9330 SQUIRE, Dudley Joseph ‘C’ Coy 11 Platoon 12 Feb KIA Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
WX7563 SULLIVAN, Edmund Herbert HQ 3 Platoon 12 Feb KIA Hill 200 Ulu Pandan
WX7470 TODD, Richard Lloyd HQ 2 AA 12 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX1587 TOOVEY, Francis Andrew ‘D’ 12 Feb Wounded Hill 200, Ulu Pandan. Toovey remained hospitalised Singapore and returned to WA. Sadly he d. 9 Nov 1945 Perth.
WX9224 WALKER, Harold Alexander HQ Signaller 12 Feb KIA Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan
WX8626 WARNE, Neil – HQ 1 Platoon Signals 12 Feb KIA Hill 200 Ulu Pandan (Signaller)
WX7166 WERRETT, Herbert Stanley ‘C’ 11 Platoon 14 Feb DOW Alexander Hospital, WIA possibly Ulu Pandan