Assassination of Sir Henry Gurney

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Assassination of Sir Henry Gurney
Part of Malayan Emergency
Date6 October 1951

Communist victory

  • Sir Henry Gurney assassinated.
 United Kingdom Malayan Communist Party
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Sir Henry Gurney  Sui Mah
Chin Peng
13 policemen 38 insurgents
Casualties and losses
2 killed
5 wounded
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The Assassination of Sir Henry Gurney took place at the height of the Malayan Emergency. The British High Commissioner was killed by members of the Malayan Communist Party at Mile 56 ½, Kuala Kubu Road on 7 October 1951, on his way to Fraser's Hill for a meeting.[1][2]

Gurney was riding in his Rolls Royce Silver Wraith with his wife, private secretary D.J. Staples, and his Malayan chauffeur as part of a convoy that included an armored scout car, a police wireless van, and a land rover with six Malayan policemen sitting in its open back. Eight miles from the ambush site, the wireless van developed engine trouble, and the commander advised Gurney to wait, but Gurney decided to press ahead with the rest of the convoy.

About 60 miles (97 km) north of Kuala Lumpur, as the convoy rounded a curve in the road, it was ambushed by a force of 38 Malayan Communist Party guerrillas, who opened fire on the convoy with three Bren guns, Sten guns, and rifles. Gurney and five of the six Malayan policemen in the land rover were wounded, and his chauffeur killed. Both vehicles came to a halt as bullets punctured their tyres. Gurney pushed his wife and private secretary into the footwell of the car, then got out and staggered forward towards the ambush site to draw the insurgents' fire away from the car and towards himself. The guerrillas fired in his direction, fatally hitting him.

The armored scout car pushed ahead of the Rolls-Royce with some difficulty to get help from a nearby police station. The insurgents stayed in the area for about ten more minutes, firing intermittently at anything that moved. A bugle call then sounded, and the insurgents pulled back.

When the firing eased, Lady Gurney crawled out of the Rolls Royce, only to discover her husband's body lying in a roadside ditch. Twenty minutes later, the officer in charge of the armored scout car arrived at the scene with reinforcements from the police station.[3][4]

According to Communist leader Chin Peng, the ambush was routine, the killing by chance, and the guerrillas only learned the High Commissioner was among the dead from news reports.[5]


  1. ^ Text of telegram from Sir M.V.del Tufo,Chief Secretary,Federation of Malaya Govt. to Mr.Griffiths,Secretary of State for the Colonies. accessed 4 November 2013
  2. ^ "Guerrillas Murder High Commissioner In Malaya". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 8 October 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  3. ^ Grob-Fitzgibbon, Benjamin: Imperial Endgame: Britain's Dirty Wars and the End of Empire.
  4. ^ Telegram from Chief Secretary del Tufo of the Malayan Government to Colonial Secretary Griffiths
  5. ^ Chin Peng, My Side of History, Media Masters, Singapore, 2003, pp. 287-289.

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