A photo from the past: 1960 near Tamparuli bridge

The Jambatan Tamparuli post written by Ben Godomon in September 2007 has lead to this historic photos dated back to 1960. Mr. Anthony Catherall apparently found the post and gladly shared with us his side of the story, more than 30 years later today. If you missed his comment, I hereby re-quote his entry:

It is interesting reading comments about the river flooding in 1999 and the early 1960’s. I was in Kota Belud in April till November 1960. Yes the river flooded so much so that there was a terrible tragedy on the bridge on the 18th May.

We in the Royal Engineers were stationed at Paradise Camp and were in then North Borneo to build and improve roads, build and improve bridges and build an airstrip at Kota Belud. That day 18 May 1960 a local woman living in Kampong Saya in Kota Belud had been seriously injured. Two soldiers attached to our unit, Private J.W.N. Hall, Royal Army Medical Corps, and Driver D.C. Cooper, Royal Army Serevice Corps were transporting the woman to Jesselton.

The Recovery of John Wesley Hall's Ambulance, Nortth Borneo

Pte. Hall on reaching the bridge where water was flowing over it got out of the Landrover and was guiding Dvr. Cooper as he tried to negotiate the bridge. The woman was strapped in the vehicle in the back. The water current was so strong that eventually the Landrover was swept into the river. Pte. Hall dived in to try and rescue his colleague to no avail.

About 3 days later the bodies surfaced and we rescued both them and the Landrover. Subsequently the two soldiers were buried at Camp Paradise. I have photo’s of the bridge in 1960 and of the Landrover being pulled out of the river with a Scamell.

Tony Catherall, Richard Chung & Frank Sowerby

Last May the Scamell Driver, Frank myself and one other friend John, with Richard Chung our kind driver visited Tamparuli to pay our respects to a memorial that has been erected, surrounded by a fence on the Pekan Tamparuli side close to the bridge itself.

This is a very important part of the history of Tamparuli, which we as soldiers can never forget.

13 thoughts on “A photo from the past: 1960 near Tamparuli bridge

  1. A very sad story that has been with me since I was a seven year old. My family was living in Jesselton and I remember this tragedy.

  2. Only now did I get a chance to visit this blog again – thanks for the link and wow, I am not sure if these photos can be seen anywhere else!

  3. i did know about this even thought that i been birth and live in tamparuli.
    i born on 1986, that why i did know about this.
    what i know is just ” pengait” a.k.a head hunter.

    i really appreciate 2 you about this information.

  4. It’s sad that many tamparuli youngsters didn’t know the story related to tamparuli bridge…..
    Hopefully more people will share their photos about tamparuli in the past…
    God bless u all…..

  5. Thank you for sharing this story here. I remember seeing this memorial but was too young to be curious enough. My school was just across the bridge from where the memorial was but I never remember it being mentioned in our history class.

    Is the memorial still in that part of Tamparuli? Obviously, now I am away.

  6. if i remember correctly there was an earlier plaque with gurkha language on it before this one… any body knows where that one is now?

  7. What an amazing story!.A rather quiet town with so many histories.Those pictures were priceless.
    I am a Tamparulian myself but know little about the history of it.
    Please share some info about how the oldest bridge was built.I heard that there’s some interesting stories behind it.
    Thank you so much .

    By the way,what happened to the local woman who was strapped inside the land rover?

  8. I’m sitting in Canberra for ANZAC Day with the man – Norm Jagger – who built this very monument!

  9. I was aTroop Commander in 54 Field Squadron RE and was tasked to set up Paradise Camp as part of the airstrip we were building. I did not get on very well with my Squadron Commander and as our new location was well away from the Squadron Headquarters and him, I christened it Paradise Camp! My wife and I are visiting Sabah in February/March next year and plan to visit the area. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who was involved in the project or, particularly, any local who has an interest in it. Is the airstrip still in use?

    Captain Gerald Blakey RE (Now Brigadier Retired!)

  10. Hello Captain Blakey,
    As far as I know, Camp Paradise and the airstrip is still there in Kota Belud. Nowadays, it is used as a Malaysian military camp, and most probably it will not be opened for public. Hope that will answer some of your questions.

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