I knew him way back in 1954 when I joined Boys Wing FMC, he having been there 8 months earlier. We were in the same class for two years: Form 4A in 1954 and Form 5A in 1955. We had the best English education in the country in the best environment of 20 per class. All our teachers were British, the four senior ones seconded from RMA Sandhurst. There was only one non-British teacher, Cikgu Mustafa, our art teacher, a perfect gentleman who later became a professor in UM.
At Boys Wing in 1956, Tony was able to join Pre-OCTU Wing as Potential Officer, he was 8 months older. I was not qualified being under age; the minimum age was 17.6 years old. From both Form 5A and Form 5B, a total of 13 Budak Boys (BB) entered Pre-OCTU Wing to join the army. Some went to RMA Sandhurst, some to Portsea Australia, and some left Pre-OCTU. Tony Joseph was among the five BBs who went to Sandhurst, along with Ong Choo Chiew, Sarjit Singh, Mustafa Awang and Loo Kwet Kee. They were commissioned on 18 Dec 1958 while my group that formed Intake One Regular Cadet Wing in 1957 was commission on 13 Dec 1958. I was commissioned into the Federation Armoured Car Rgt and so was Tony. We were both in C Squadron FACR, I commanding No 1 Sabre Troop, and Tony No 2 Saber Troop. It is noteworthy to mention our services to King and Country during that critical period of 1959. C Sqn was on active service in the North for a continuous seven months. The country was about to officially declare the end of the Malayan Emergency on 12 Jul 1960, and therefore, it was imperative that all the Communist insurgents were chased across the border before the announcement could be made. We had our fair share of road patrolling and nightly ambushes on likely Communist insurgent tracks, and Dead Letter Boxes (rendezvous points where they would meet sympathisers for their mail, rations, and so on). We were able to exercise independent command as young Troop leaders during detachments on our own in Titi Akar, Pendang Kedah and in support of 4RMR in Kroh.
Before C Sqn 2 Recce (FACR became 2 Recce on 1 Jan 1960) became a part of the Malayan Special Force to the Congo, Tony was posted out to HQ Sqn to become the IO. The Regiment came to the Congo 6 months after C Sqn 2 Recce. I was at the airport to receive the Regt Advance Party, the CO, Lt Col Roger Nixon and Tony Joseph who were a part of the Brigade Advance Party,. From Ndjili Airport Leopoldville, they flew into Goma in Kivu Province, which became the home of the Recce Regt during its service with the UN. It was in Goma that Tony and a few lucky HQ Sqn Officers learnt to play gold. The Regt had rehabilitated an old abandoned Belgium golf course with its own self help using the Land rover to tow the huge grass cutter, normally towed by a tractor. This was early 1961, and some ‘crocodiles’ were produced from Goma!
After the Congo, Tony and I went on different paths. He became an instructor in RMC, while I was posted to HQ 2 Brigade. We served together again at HQ 2 Div in 1971. He was SO2 Ops, and I was SO2 Log. Our next service together was in Haigate Staff College as Directing Staff in 1980. From Haigate in 1982, Tony went to Command 1 Calvary Regiment in Kuantan and I raised 4 Cavalry Regiment in Kuantan, ‘squatting’ in Tony’s camp for one year before we moved to Sg Petani.
Later, Tony was promoted to be Director of the Cavalry Directorate.
All in all, Tony and I were comrades for a very long time, well before his family knew him. Not forgetting all the episodes as Young officers in 1959/1960 at our Officers Mess, a huge bungalow at 147 Ampang Road, which now sits Wisma Central. It was there that Tony introduced the game of poker to me. But he had no poker face. Instead, it would turn red when he wanted to call a Bluff. Those were the days my friends, wish they would never end…
Farewell to my old comrade-in-arms. May your soul rest in eternal peace.
Written by: OP Tan Siew Soo Lt Col (Rtd)