Lee-on-the-Solent soldier finally laid to rest after years in jungle

HONOURED Sheila Tebbett, left, and her sister Vicky Betsworth at a Remembrance event. Their brother Philip Bryant, inset, was killed in Malaya in 1950.  Main picture: Malcolm Wells
HONOURED Sheila Tebbett, left, and her sister Vicky Betsworth at a Remembrance event. Their brother Philip Bryant, inset, was killed in Malaya in 1950. Main picture: Malcolm Wells
A Royal Navy shot of a helicopter winching exercise

Navy aircrewman hits milestone on city ship

0
Have your say

FOR 60 years they never knew his final resting place.

But now two sisters will see their brother buried with full military honours.

HONOURED Philip Bryant

HONOURED Philip Bryant

Corporal Philip Bryant, from Lee-on-the-Solent, was killed when his Dakota aircraft plunged into a jungle ravine during the Malaya emergency.

The Royal Army Service Corps despatcher was on board an RAF aircraft when it crashed during a bombing mission.

The wrecked plane laid untouched for almost 60 years in the jungle until a team of explorers was sent to find it – and the remains of the crew – in 2008.

Next week, sisters Vicky Betsworth and Sheila Tebbett will fly to Kuala Lumpur to see Cpl Bryant buried at last.

They will be presented with the Elizabeth Cross in recognition of their brother’s sacrifice.

Vicky, 76, of Tukes Avenue in Gosport, said: ‘It’s going to be a very sad and emotional day and I don’t think I’m going to be able to hold back the tears.

‘I’m a little bit nervous about it and I’ve got butterflies. It’s important he is finally laid to rest.

‘He was only 25 and he was a lovely lad.

‘I couldn’t have wished for a nicer brother.’

Cpl Bryant’s RAF Dakota airplane took off from the Kota Bahu airfield in August 1950 to drop smoke markers for Lincoln bombers to bomb communist camps in the Malaysian jungle.

But the aircraft never returned.

It was later discovered to have suffered catastrophic engine failure while on its second target run and plunged into a ravine.

A rescue party was sent to find the crash site nine days later, where they discovered all 12 members of crew and passengers were dead.

Thick jungle surrounding the crash site and an escalating risk of attack from enemies meant the rescuers had no choice but to bury the remains in a shallow grave.

Sheila, 73, who now lives in Spain, said: ‘It will be nice to see it come to an end after all this time.

‘A lot of people will be very interested in his story.

‘It will be good to see him laid to rest at last.’

In November 2008, a 150-strong team of Malaysian military, police and specialist forensic archaeologists made a challenging trek through the jungle to find the crash site.

The team eventually came across the wreckage and found the remains of the airplane’s crew and passengers.

The Ministry of Defence’s historic case team then searched for surviving relatives to tell them of the discovery and send them to the burial.