Lord Patel was entertained but not instructed by a French teacher called Reg Lascelles, an enthusiastic radio Ham, who recorded the "beeping" Russian Sputnik which was broadcast throughout the world on Radio news.
He had done his National Service in Malaya (as it was then called) and one memorable day brought in for our amusement, pictures of him and his colleagues holding up the severed heads of Communists they had captured in Malaya. Chin Peng deals with the repressive methods of the British at length. The Daily Worker (the then paper of the British Communist Party) on 10 May 1952 printed pictures of British soldiers holding the severed heads of two guerrillas (see pic above from Daily Worker - similiar to the one's old Lascelles showed us at school). This was suppressed by the the rest of the UK press and secret, recently published report was undertaken but nothing was done.
In their way, they were identical to the Abu Ghraib and Basra pictures . As Lin Peng the Chinese Communist leader said in his memoirs "Truly, the barbaric al-Qa’ida inspired terrorist groups in Iraq had good teachers in the form of British imperialism in Malaya, Kenya and elsewhere in the past."
Harry Politt the UK Communist leader in a pamphlet, Malaya Stop the War! wrote ;
"The British lads who are being sent thousands of miles away to Malaya are not defending Britain or safeguarding democracy. They are there to defend the corrupt colonial system under which two-thirds of the children receive no schooling, the workers’ own trade unions have been suppressed, and real wages are only a third of their pre-war starvation level. Despite all the official propaganda about Malaya being the most prosperous British colony, for the Malayan people conditions are appalling."He went on to express sentiments many would agree with today about Iraq and Afghanistan ..
"... This is the degraded Police State for which the Tories want to sacrifice more British lives. Already hundreds of British lads have lost their lives in Malaya. It is time for the British people to put an end to this cruel and ghastly war. ... For the Tory rubber and tin profiteers there is plenty to gain, but for the British people the only dividends are death, more taxation, cuts in social services, and attacks on wages and working conditions."
It was pictures of severed heads she found as a child which propelled Jenny Eclair to Malaysia to dig, for the excellent Channel 4 series "Children of Empire", into both the "Emergency" and her family past - she had been born in 1960 when her Father was in the Green Howards on a 2nd tour as an officer in Military Intelligence after the new nation of Malaysia was born at at Merdeka Stadium on Aug 31, 1957. At independence 75 % of all rubber plantation acreage was in European (mostly British) hands, along with 61 % of all tin production, and 75 % of all services and trade .. for them the "Emergency" had paid off..
A necessarily brief and potted history of this complicated Communist / colonial / religious episode was illustrated with interviews with a head hunting Eban native tracker, ex soldiers and irredeemably stupid but sincere planters. The heads were severed as it was impractical to bring in the dead bodies - photographs of the corpses, the heads and often the live corpses were used to warn the Chinese population not to join the Chinese in surgents or support them - it actually encouraged recruitment.
The efforst were not without their atrocities. Yeras before My Lai on 11th December 1948, a unit of the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards entered Batang Kali, a small hamlet in the Selangor area of Malaya. The soldiers then rounded up and massacred 25 Chinese villagers and burnt many of the dwellings.
The role of General Templar , Later Field Marshal , who was brought in after a change of Government , by Churchill, was explained, and the way his "hearts and Minds" campaigng really did mean meeting grievances over land rights, citizenship and the end of indentured labour - resulting eventually in independence.
It was Templar who was famously asked before the Suez invasion by Eden and his war crazy cronies if he could take Cairo . "Take Cairo ? Certainly Sir. What the bloody hell do we do when we get there ?"
A question which might well have been raised later when the war crazy cronies of Dubya wanted to take Baghdad."Take Bagdhad ? certainly Sir. What the bloody hell do we do when we get there?
This is first rate Television, and you can read more, see the video, and pictures at Channel 4 here see also the David Stel episode equally excellent. See also
On another personal note Lord Patel first managed Kath Docherty and Jenny Hargreaves in 1977, both drama students at Manchester Poly, when they appeared, first as a pop poetry duo, "The Miss Fits" and later as "Kathy la Creme and the Rum Babas "(hence the Eclair) in Manchester clubs. Memorably thrown off ( and literally out of) BBC Radio Blackburn one morning when Kathy had launched into "Yer never Borrer from Barclays Bank" just as the local branch Manager's wife was sitting down for her mid morning Light Digestive and Coffee .......