(Photograph source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)
Front (left to right): Pte. Mat Shah (died 1932), Sgt. Wan Mohamed, Raja Hussain, Ariffin and Wan Hashim.
Back row (left to right): Pte. Mohamad, Pte. Hashim and anon.
These men posing at the guard room possibly represent a platoon of the 1st Perak Battalion of the Malay States Volunteer Rifles, later the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF).
Footnote: 8 November 2009 is Remembrance Day, during which HM Queen Elizabeth II will lead the UK in remembering the war dead, previously known as Armistice Day which was a public holiday on 11 November in the Malay States during British colonial times. The day is now moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Malaysia remembers her war dead on Hari Pahlawan which is on 31 July.
Taiping airport is located in Tekah (it is also called Tekah airport) and was built in 1929. It was the first airport officially established in the Federated Malay States and also in South East Asia.
Besides serving as a commercial airport for the use of the British officers and European merchants, the airport also served as the airstrip for the Royal Malayan Air Force. The airport served short distance destinations such as to Alor Star, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The Penang-Singapore flight route ran a daily stop at the Taiping airport. The first Malayan scheduled passenger air service was run by Wearne Air Services (WAS) and included a daily flight to Taiping which also delivered newspapers.
Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Elektra. (Source: Wikipedia)
The airport achieved worldwide fame when the famous American aviator, Amelia Mary Earhart, had a stopover at the Taiping airport in 1937 to refuel during her ill-fated world flight attempt on a Lockheed Electra financed by Purdue University. Earhart was on a flight route from Thailand to Singapore, and she was given permission to land, by the then Resident-General of the FMS, at Taiping Airport on 7 June 1937 .
Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta in Taiping, August 1945.
Another significant mark in the history of Taiping airport was when Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, who later became the President and Vice-President of Indonesia, respectively, landed at Taiping airport on 12 August 1945, for a meeting with Dr. Burhanuddin Helmi and Ibrahim Yaacob who were leaders of Kesatuan Rakyat Indonesia Semenanjung (KRIS) to talk about the possibility of uniting Malaya with Indonesia (the concept of Indonesia Raya) when the latter achieved independence. The meeting was arranged by Japanese army officers during World War 2.
After the end of the Japanese occupation, Taiping airport only served flights to other airports within Perak, leaving Ipoh as the only Perak airport to provide passenger services to other Malay states. Today, the airport is no longer in regular use. Taiping airport is recognised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and carries the 3-letter IATA code of TPG.
2. TPG: theairdb.com
Armistice Day is the anniversary of the symbolic end of World War I on 11 November 1918. The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. The 1st Perak Battalion was part of the Malay States Volunteer Rifles, later the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF). As the Federated Malay States consisted of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang, volunteers from these states were also organised into 4 Battalions:
Perak – 1st Battalion FMSVF
Selangor – 2nd Battalion FMSVF
Negri Sembilan – 3rd Battalion FMSVF
Pahang – 4th Battalion FMSVF
There was also an FMSVF Signals Battalion, FMSVF Light (Artillery) Battery, FMSVF Reserve Motor Transport Company and FMSVF Field Ambulance units. The total number of men in the FMSVF was 5,200. The origin of the Volunteers was in Britain’s major conflicts of the 19th and early 20th centuries – the Crimean War led to the enrolment in 1854 of the original Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps with its proud motto In Oriente Primus (‘First in the East’), and the Boer War of 1899-1902 further stimulated the Volunteer movement with the formation of the Malay States Volunteer Rifles in 1915. The Volunteers came from all nationalities and walks of life in the pre-war British Malaya. They were not only Europeans, but Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. They came from all branches of the Malayan Government Service, from the Mines and Plantations, from the business communities, from the Medical Profession and from the Church. Many other civilians who would have joined the Volunteers, were prevented from doing so because they were in so-called ‘reserved occupations’ considered essential for the continued smooth running of the country. Whatever their background, they were motivated by a profound sense of wanting to do everything in their power to defend the country.
2. Fell R. The Malayan Volunteer Forces. COFEPOW website.