How Malaysia’s top amateur military historian found his wings

Wreckage of Royal Air Force B24 Liberator bomber in Negri Sembilan found in 2006. — Picture courtesy of Malaya Historical Group
Wreckage of Royal Air Force B24 Liberator bomber in Negri Sembilan found in 2006. — Picture courtesy of Malaya Historical Group

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates.


IPOH, Jan 6 — From the time he was a young boy, Malaya Historical Group chief researcher Shaharom Ahmad was always excited when he read articles about historical finds and military history.

Now at the age of 44, the boy from Kuala Selangor has seen many of his childhood dreams come true. But he did not achieve them conventionally.

Shaharom is said to be one of Malaysia’s top amateur military history researchers, and involved in some of the country’s most significant wartime finds.

He recently made headlines by unearthing a World War II-era underground bomb shelter on the grounds of Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport.

His group of amateur military historians have helped find more than 40 sites connected with World War II aviation and military relics.

What makes his tale even more special is Shaharom was never formally educated in historical research. He holds a degree in graphic design from Universiti Teknologi Mara.

He juggles his day job as a graphic designer for Bernama, his research, and duties as a father of three children.

After graduating, he continued pursuing his love for history.

Malaya Historical Group chief researcher Shaharom Ahmad standing inside the underground bomb shelter that had been discovered on the grounds of Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, December 27, 2017. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Malaya Historical Group chief researcher Shaharom Ahmad standing inside the underground bomb shelter that had been discovered on the grounds of Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, December 27, 2017. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

He dived into history studies, collected artefacts, and set up a network of fellow history buffs in Malaysia and beyond.

This culminated in him founding the Malaya Historical Group in 1998, which currently has five members.

“When I have free time, I immerse in research. I spend that part of my day studying and corresponding with other historians and parties who can help my studies.

“The most difficult aspect is finding time and money. The funds for our research largely come of our own pockets.

“But the rewards are worth it. It’s thrilling to solve mysteries and answer questions about a discovery.”

The group usually gets tip-offs of potential discoveries from locals or war veterans.

It can take several site visits to accurately mark the location of the relics or wreckage.

The visits are usually done on weekends or holidays, because they can take days of hiking through deep jungles.

“When we get something, we match whatever information we get with our friends in other historical groups, including those in the United States and United Kingdom.

“Sometimes after a while, we also contact the families of the crew members. They are usually the only ones who can pressure their respective governments to launch investigations.”

Shaharom and his team were heavily involved in finding the wreckage of a Royal Air Force B24 Liberator bomber in Negri Sembilan in 2006, as well as a British C47 Dakota cargo plane in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

He was also part of the team responsible for persuading the United States military to launch Ops Gangga in Beruas, Perak where Americans and Malaysians joined forces to find a US military cargo plane that crashed on the slopes of Gunung Bubu on Nov 27, 1945.

To this day, the discoveries of the Negri Sembilan B-24 Liberator and the Ipoh bomb shelter remain his proudest moments as a researcher.

“The Negri Sembilan case was special because it took us around 16 years to get proper recognition and burial for the aircraft’s crew.

“We even met the families of the crew members and they were so thankful to see their loved ones buried with full military honours.”

Shaharom Ahmad showing reporters the World War II underground bomb shelter discovered at Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, December 27, 2017. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Shaharom Ahmad showing reporters the World War II underground bomb shelter discovered at Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, December 27, 2017. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

The recent find in Ipoh, he said was their first underground bunker find.

The task of a part-time researcher is far from easy, as Shaharom deals with long hours, a tiring job scope and the limitations of time and funding.

But he knows the importance of his task —passing on the country’s fascinating military history to future generations.

For this, he receives constant support and backing from his fellow researchers around the world.

“Our historical remnants are disappearing with the flood of development. But they need to be preserved for the generations to come.

“Future generations need to appreciate and respect the sacrifices made by their forefathers to achieve the peace and harmony we enjoy today.”

You May Also Like

Related Articles