The Passing of the First King
1 Apr 17
I feel proud and honoured to have participated in that historic event at such an early stage of my military service to King and Country.
The first Yang Di Pertuan Agong, Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Muhammad died in his sleep on 1 April 1960. The lying in state was held at the Banguet Hall of Istana Negara. Here officers of the 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment (me included) together with other officers including those from the RMN were involved taking turns in keeping vigil rotating every two hours throughout the period.
On 2 April 1960, a State Funeral procession full of pomp and pageantry was accorded to the late King. The royal coffin placed on a Gun Carriage was towed by personnel of the RMN in the British tradition. Right in front, ahead of the Navy leading the procession was the dismounted Sovereign Escort (sometimes called the King Escort) of 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment. This small party consisted of twenty four personnel was led by Major Zain Hashim with 2/Lt Tan Siew Soo bringing up the rear (in the photograph you can see him ahead of the Navy personnel).
We led the procession with reversed arms/swords on slow march all the way from Istana Negara, Bellamy Road to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station where the royal coffin boarded a special train to Seremban and then by road to Sri Menanti.
The No 1 Dress of the Reconnaissance Regiment then, was the envy of the other arms and services. The officers wore scarlet caps, chain mails, cross belts, tight fitting slacks and Wellington boots with Spurs.
The Other Ranks uniform were only slightly less impressive, also wore peak caps, chain mails, simple cross belts and not so tight fitting slacks without spurs.
As we slow marched on that bright, hot sunny day beads of sweats were streaming down our foreheads. Overheard some comments from the roadside crowds: see they are crying.
Indeed, if we were crying it must surely be for King and Country!
Lt Col Tan Siew Soo (Rtd)