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Synopsis

This is a true story of 1930s Malaysia, of jungle operations, submarines and spies in WWII, and of the postwar Malayan Emergency, as experienced by an extraordinary man. Boris Hembry went out to Malaya as a rubber planter in 1930 to work on estates in Malaya and Sumatra. Following the Japanese invasion in December 1941 he volunteered for Freddy Spencer Chapman’s covert Stay Behind Party and spent a month in the jungle behind enemy lines before escaping by sampan across the Malacca Strait to Sumatra. Hembry returned to Singapore shortly before its surrender then escaped to Java and subsequently to India, where he joined V Force, a clandestine intelligence unit operating in Burma. In 1943 Hembry was recruited into the Secret Intelligence Service – given the bland cover name Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD) – and returned to Sumatra and Malaya several times by submarine on intelligence-gathering missions. He became Head of Malayan Country Section ISLD in 1944, liaised with Force 136, and was responsible for the most successful intelligence coup of the Malayan war. After WWII, Hembry returned to planting at Sungei Siput, Perak, where the murder of three colleagues on 16 June 1948 signalled the start of the Malayan Emergency. Assuming the leadership of the local planting community, he formed the first Home Guard unit in Malaya, was an early proponent of squatter control (later incorporated into the Briggs Plan), served on district, state and federal security committees, and survived several attempts on his life.

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