Two things baffle me about the Massacre at Batang Kali in 1948 of 24 ethnic Chinese rubber plantation workers by a patrol from the Scots Guards. Why is what happened still a British state secret? And why are there still people out there that won’t believe it happened?
In the past I’ve made a big deal of the women and children being loaded into vehicles and suggested this was evidence that there was more to the massacre than just a rogue patrol at work. It now seems possible that the vehicles were there to ferry the occupants of the Batang Kali settlement to work – and not sent by the Army to collect the women and children. In fact, it’s maybe unlikely vehicles would be sent by the Army; because it’s been alleged that the original plan was to kill everyone at Batang Kali. A soldier who was there has stated that the patrol had been told by one of their officers that the villagers at Batang Kali were supplying the local ethic-Chinese Communist guerrillas with food and were to be made an example of. The operation at Batang Kali was odd in that it was not led by an officer. From the start there were official suspicions about the patrol’s claim that all 24 men were shot while trying to escape. Surely, escaping men would have tried to scatter and wouldn’t have been mown down in several nice neat groups, one colonial administrator asked the Guardsmen. Then the administrator spoiled it by saying, allegedly, “I hope you get away with it”.
There is evidence that the villagers were indeed helping the guerrillas. Many other villages, either voluntarily or through coercion, were also aiding the Communists. As far as we know the only massacre was at Batang Kali. Why doesn’t Her Majesty’s Government want us to know why that was? Is it waiting until the last member of the patrol dies? Or are we never going to be allowed to find out what the truth is?