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Guerillas Murder

 

High Commissioner          

In Malaya

KUALA LUMPUR, Sunday.

Squads of grim-faced security forces have fanned out over precipitous jungle-tangled hills in the Gap area of Selangor in the hunt for the gang of Communist guerrillas who shot dead Sir Henry Gurney yesterday.    

Sir Henry, British High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya was killed, but Lady Gurney escaped unhurt when terrorists opened fire on their car from a well-prepared ambush.

In the resultant gun battle

with the official police escort, the     Communists wounded Sir Hen-

ry's private secretary, Mr. D. J. Staples, and four police officers.

The killers made a clean get-

away into some of the worst   jungle country after the attack.  

They had a few hours' start on Gurghan Malay Police said the Royal West Kents who were sent in after them from several

different directions.  

Eagle-eyed Iban trackers from   Sarawak and fierce army track- ing dogs were rushed to the scene to join the hunt.

The guerrillas disappeared in- to the deep jungle nearly 3000

feet above sea level and one senior police officer- a seasoned jungle fighter - believes that the pursuers will be lucky to catch up with the pursued.

These bandits probably schemed this attack for weeks, and had a safe escape route all set," he said.  

Unconfirmed reports circulated in the federal capital last night   that the police were investigat- ing a charge that there had been a breakdown in security about

Sir Henry's movements.    

However several Security Force officers said it was known    

that Malaya guerillas some-     times wait for weeks in ambush   positions waiting for a worth- while target.

It was fairly generally known that Sir Henry made occasional trips to Fraser's Hill for good     air and a game of golf at the

week-end.

His black Rolls Royce always

flew the Federation flag, even in the grimmest parts of guerilla- infested areas and its Crown gleamed in the sun.

Experienced army and police officers have often pointed to the Gap Road cut into the side of steep thickly covered slopes as being extremely vulnerable to

ambush.  

The guerrillas used their usual tactics yesterday. They spread- eagled the armed escort with the

first burst of fire at short range,           and then swung their guns on

to the real target.  

Reports conflict as to whether   Sir Henry was hit while sitting

in the car with Lady Gurney,   or whether he jumped from the car to draw fire away from his wife, and was then shot down.

In a broadcast over Radio Ma-   laya last night, the Attorney -

General, Mr. Michael Hogan,   who is administering the Govern- ment, of Malaya, said that Sir

Henry, asserting his sense of  

leadership even in his last mom-   ents, "stepped out of the car to

face the danger confronting him,   and drew away first which might   otherwise have killed those who were with him."  

By a strange coincidence, Sir Henry was killed three years to the day that he was officially in-   stalled in Kuala Lumpur as   High Commissioner.      

He was found lying with his

face in bushes at the roadside,   shot through the head. Bullets were embedded in the road   alongside him. Lady Gurney   obeyed her husband's instruc- tions in staying on the floor of

the car while the battle raged,   according to one report.    

Police Constable Mohammed   Rashid, 23, who was wounded in   both legs, said that the escort consisted of 13 police in a land - rover, a radio van and an arm-

oured car.    

He added that all police in the  

land rover which was leading Sir   Henry's car, were wounded by

the first burst.    

Then the communists swung

their guns on to the official car. Rashid said that firing continued until the armoured car, which had been trailing, arrived at the scene twenty minutes later.  

Mohamed Din, driver of Sir Henry's car, who also was woun- ded, said he trod on the, brakes when the first fusillade of shots

hit the car.

"I jumped out and saw that the two tyres nearest to the cliff were punctured," he said. "A bullet hit me. Then I saw him   stagger out of the car and fall face downwards on the grass at the side of the road.

"Mr. Staples was hurt, but he knelt at His Excellency's side, tending him. Lady Gurney re-

mained crouched on the floor of the car while the battle lasted."

Deep Shock Throughout Malaya

A sense of deep shock has grippd the Federation of Ma- laya following the assassination of High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney, who was 53, and had been High Commissioner since

1948.  

People wept when told the news, and dances, parties, sports

meetings and other functions, were cancelled.      

       

Football matches, here halted in the middle of play'when the news was received.

Sir Henry will be buried in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow morn- ing. His body will lie with those of many planters, miners and police officers who have been murdered by the guerrillas dur- ing the three and a quarter years of the emergency.

The King and Queen, the Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, the   Colonial Secretary, Mr. Griffiths, and the Governor of Singapore, Sir Franklin Gimson, are among those who have sent messages of sympathy to Lady Gurney.

Mr. Griffiths said, "I am horri- fied and disgusted by this crime, and hasten to express my intense sympathy."

Malayan leaders, too, were     deeply shocked, and leading Ma- lay statesman Dato Onn Bin Jaffar described Sir Henry's death as a tragedy for Malaya.

Indian community leader, Mr. R. Ramani, said, "This should not merely be the end of another great man. This must be the beginning of a renewed deter- mination to steel our hearts and strengthen our hands to end such dastardly crimes for ever, and   with the greatest possible speed. This is a real challenge to all our resources. We shall and will meet it."

A number of major posts in the Malayan Government are now unfilled. 'There is no High Commissioner, no Chief Justice.

Most other senior posts are held by acting officials, and Gen- eral Sir Harold Briggs, director of operations against the terror- ists, is due to be relieved in a few weeks.

The British Commissioner-         General in South-East Asia, Mr.

Malcolm MacDonald, is in Sara- wak on tour, and special ar-

rangements have been made to fly him back at once.

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