Official Association of Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas

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16th October 2013

Major Rex Carr, who has died aged 90, was an outstanding Gurkha Rifles company commander awarded two Military Crosses for operations in the Malayan jungle.

During their occupation of Malaya, the Japanese turned most of the large Chinese element of the population against their former colonial rulers. The onset of the Emergency in 1948 was marked by murders of European plantation managers on rubber estates and European police officers up and down the country, and reports that armed gangs of Chinese were on the rampage.

Carr arrived in Malaya that year with the British Gurkha regiments. In June 1953 he was in command of a company of 2nd Battalion 7th Gurkha Rifles (2/7 GR) on anti-terrorist operations near Bentong, Pahang. His task was to find a camp in the jungle that was believed to be occupied by 30 insurgents.

He made a daring reconnaissance in person and, having deployed his men so that the camp was almost surrounded, he led an attack in the face of well-directed enemy fire. Three insurgents were found, all of whom were killed. One of Carr’s men was wounded.

A few days later, in the course of the same operation, Carr was commanding two platoons that were pursuing a group of insurgents which had successfully evaded another patrol. Finding fresh tracks, he followed them relentlessly all day without pausing for food, and overtook the enemy party late in the evening when it had halted for the night.

The light was failing and Carr decided that he must attack at once. His preparations were, however, detected, and to prevent the enemy escaping in the gathering darkness he assaulted their position with the three men who happened to be with him.

His small force came under heavy fire from a Bren gun and rifles at a range of 30 yards. In the fierce fighting that ensued, one of Carr’s men was wounded; but despite being outnumbered four to one, he made his way forward until he reached the Bren gunner and killed him and another man with grenades.

A third insurgent was also dealt with, but the rest got away. The citation for the award to Carr of his first MC stated that he had shown outstanding personal courage, brilliant leadership and cool-headed skill.

Rex Samuel Richards Carr (always known in the Army as Pat) was born at Stowlangtoft, Suffolk, on October 23 1922 and educated at Malvern, after which he went straight into the Suffolk Regiment. After volunteering for overseas service and attendance at the Indian Army Officer Training Schools, early in 1944 he joined the 4th Battalion 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles (4/1 GR) and took part in the Battle of Kohima as a company commander.

The battalion was young and inexperienced, and had to fight a ruthless enemy at extremely close quarters and over very difficult terrain. The situation demanded leadership of the highest order, and Carr displayed this in full measure.

After Indian Independence he joined 2/7 GR and accompanied the battalion to Malaya. In 1953-54, Carr showed himself to be the most successful company commander in the country; his unit accounted for 50 of the enemy.

In an engagement in the wetlands of Tasek Bera, Negeri Sembilan, he had two fingers of his right hand shot away. The bullet splintered the rifle woodwork, flattened and went into his body. Had it been two inches higher, it would have killed him. Before his wounds had healed he was back in action in the jungle.

The citation for the award of a Bar to Carr’s MC stated: “It is not too much to say that Major Carr’s skill, bravery and relentless pursuit of the enemy whether in deep jungle or swamp or any other kind of terrain have become a byword. He has shown an utter disregard for danger and such skill in operations that he is an outstanding example to every other officer taking part in this campaign.”

After a posting to the Eastern Recruiting Camp as quartermaster, in 1957 Carr moved to the Gurkha Transit Camp, near Calcutta. He commanded a training company at Sungei Patani, north Malaya, for almost three years, and in 1963 went to the British Gurkha Recruitment Centre, Dharan, Nepal, as deputy recruiting officer.

He subsequently took over as the resettlement officer, giving training to retiring soldiers before he himself retired in 1969. Settled at Hawstead, Suffolk, he established a successful horticultural business. He also enjoyed bird watching and holidaying at the Italian lakes.

Although modest and reserved, Carr was a gifted raconteur, a generous and entertaining host and a man of strong Christian faith. An old comrade said of him that he was one of the best-loved and most respected officers in the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Rex Carr married, in 1963, Rosemary Hastie, who survives him with their daughter and two sons.

Major Rex Carr, born October 23 1922, died August 22 2013


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