The Battle of Pasir Panjang was 78 years ago, when Ujang Mormin was only 21. He was an Army Private with the First Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment, the very same that fought against the invading Japanese Imperial Army. He was led by the legendary Lieutenant Adnan Saidi, who ordered his men to hold out against the invaders and give them everything they’ve got.
For two days, they held out despite being heavily outnumbered – the Japanese Imperial Army had 13, 000 fighters and there were only 1, 400 men in the Royal Malay Regiment. They were also critically low on medical supplies, food and ammunition.
On their second day, the Malay Regiment platoon was down to the bayonets mounted on their guns and a few grenades. They had no more bullets left. The Japanese, on the other hand, had artillery, bombers and tanks. So they charged the Japanese Imperial Army.
Lieutenant Adnan was killed. Only a handful of men from the Malay Regiment survived the Battle of Pasir Panjang. The English officer who oversaw the Royal Malay Regiment told the men that it was over. He announced his intention to surrender to the Japanese and said they were, “…free to go our separate ways or follow him to surrender to the Japanese.”
Nobody wanted to surrender so the survivors made their way home as best as they could.
The first thing they did was to get rid of their uniforms, which made them targets. Ujang was sheltered by a Malay family he met at Jalan Serangoon for two months. Eventually, he made it home, to Rembau in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
He was immediately swarmed by friends and relatives and the mood was overwhelmingly festive and joyous. Despite the sweetness of reunion, he reported back for duty with the Royal Malay Regiment at the tail end of 1945.
Today, Ujang is 99 years old and he says it’s still something he says he will always remember.
He is also one of the most decorated soldiers in the whole of Malaysia. For his actions during World War II, he was awarded the Pacific Star by the British and the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, a medal bestowed upon him by the King and Government of Malaysia.
As Ujang no longer has any living relatives, having outlived all of them, he is currently being cared for by the staff at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. The army is still trying to locate any living relatives or descendants he might have.