By Ling Hui
KUCHING, Sept 21: British High Commission Group new Defence Advisor Captain Simon Hindmarsh says it was his top priority to come to Sarawak to pay his final respects on behalf of the British government to the late Iban war hero Datuk Awang Raweng.
“I travel all over the country in the course of my duties, but once we heard of the passing of Sergeant Awang Raweng yesterday, this became the absolute top priority for me to get away from the peninsula and come to Sarawak to pay my respects,” he asserted.
He also highlighted the significance of today’s final prayer ceremony to him on top of his privilege to attend it as a representative of the British government.
“Not just personally, I’m also here on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and our monarch who has met Datuk Awang on several occasions, and on behalf of the British government as well.
“I’m here to pay my final condolences and respect to this tremendously courageous soldier who did so much back in 1951 when he was honoured with the George Cross,” he said when attending the final prayer ceremony at Kuching Civic Centre earlier today.
In stating this, he added that the George Cross medal was the second highest honour to be awarded to a serving military member in the Queen’s army forces.
“It is just below the Victoria Cross in terms of the hierarchy of medals. While the Victoria Cross is awarded for the utmost valour, the George Cross is there for examples of incredible courage as we saw in Sergeant Awang back in 1951,” he explained.
He was referring to the incident which led to Awang’s George Cross award when the latter showed immense courage during a firefight with communists on May 27, 1951 in Johor.
Although Awang was hit by a bullet through the thigh bone and was bleeding out, he still managed to drag his injured fellow soldier to cover, defended him and successfully drove off several approaching bandit attacks.
His courageous actions demonstrated his coolness under fire, fortitude and indomitable spirit. — DayakDaily