Feature Page

C/Sgt Chopper Essex
1LF and 22 SAS
sent in by Howard (Sid) Cooley

The order on the pic from Left to right Ricky Coomber, Frank Williams, Steve Callan, Chopper Essex.

On the 4th May 1963, a Belvedere Helicopter crashed in Borneo close to the village of Long Merarap in the Trusan Valley in the 5th Division of Sarawak.

The Commander of the rescue patrol Frank Williams was
actually meant to travel on the helicopter but was called to the ops room
and it left without him

A patrol from 22 SAS were inserted into the area to look for survivors.

They found the wreck, but sadly all 9 men who had been aboard the helicopter were dead when they got there.

The names of the dead were:-

607191 Flt Lt APJ Dobson Royal Air Force.
166081 Flt lt DRE Viner Royal Air Force.
3524433 Cpl JL Williams Royal Air Force.
22537392 Cpl P Murphy 22 SAS.
Major RHD Norman MC MBE 22 SAS.
Major HAI Thompson MC 22 SAS.
Capt JP Connington. 22 SAS.
Mr MH Day Foreign Office.
D Reddish The Borneo Company.

The Patrol consisted of WO2 Frank Williams (Comd), Chopper Essex (Lead Scout), Ricky Coomber (Medic) and Steve Callan (Signaller).

"Click on this link to see more about Nanga Gaat"

Maurice Taylors memories of Borneo
I have checked in my log book and in Aug 1963 I was rather busy round Long Merarap. The Ghurkhas had wind of the incursion by a large column of Indonesian soldiers; the last patrol done by the Indonesian Army before Confrontation ended. They were heading for Brunei. Anyhow the Ghurkhas eventually rounded them all up and I picked up their leader Lt Sumbie and his escort from the river (see photo 2) and flew him to Bario on 3 Sep 63.

At one stage I was weather bound at the end of the rope bridge which crosses the river to the Memorial on the crash site of the Belvedere. I had seen it many times from the air and I crossed the wobbly bridge (see photo 1) with a Ghurkha soldier and went to say my respects to those who died.
Long Merarap Belvedere XG 473 4 May 1963
(The Belvedere Choppers patrol went to seach for)
By a remarkable coincidence a good friend of mine Neil Kelly ( Brig Neil Kelly CBE) was a passenger on that Belvedere on that sad day. He and a Medical Officer were dropped off at a Long House on a "hearts and minds" mission the Belvedere then went on and a few minutes later it must have crashed, No one knew that Neil and the MO had been dropped at that particular long house and it was 17 days later before they were found and rescued. Neil had another lucky escape a couple of days later as his rescue evacuation helicopter with him on board this time also crashed.

Capt John P. Connington who was killed in the Belvedere was on attachment to the SAS from Royal Fusiliers. I knew John and his twin brother David also Royal Fusilier from the move of the Fusiliers Brigade Depot to Sutton Coldfield ?

Can't say I ever came across "Chopper" Essex in the SAS and and I flew a lot of them in Borneo"

The Chooper Essex
photo at top of page is in
this book


These next photos are of a Long House Family

The Head Man

The Ladies

The Family

The Long House Belles

The Sgt Mess
Hong Kong