Since 1902, The Malay Rulers led by Almarhum DYMM Yang Dipertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Muhamad ibni Yam Tunku Antah, Almarhum DYMM Sultan Perak, Sultan Alang Iskandar Shah, Almarhum Raja Di Hilir Perak, Raja Sir Chulan and Abdullah bin Haji Damad have urged the British Colonial Office for the formation of a Malay Army regiment raised from the local population. On 23 January 1933, the Federal Consultative Council passed the Malay Regiment Act, as Act No. 11.
The regiment can trace its origins back to the 1st Trial Company in 1933. On 1 February 1933, 25 young Malay locals were chosen from the initial over 1000 applicants as suitable to be recruited for the new regiment. They were ordered to report on 1 March 1933 in the Haig Lines (now known as IPDA), Port Dickson for training.
This first squad trained hard, and with perseverance, they obtained the satisfaction from the British officers. In mid-1934, the Trial Company has been declared eligible to succeed with excellence and was enlarged to a full battalion. Then, for the first time, on 4 November 1936, four young members of First Squad have been commissioned as officers with the rank of Second Lieutenant. They were Ariffin bin Haji Sulaiman (No. 8), Ibrahim bin Sidek (No. 12), Ismail bin Tahar (No. 13) and Raja Lope Nor Rashid bin Raja Abdul Rahman (No. 25).
With the outbreak of the European War on 3 September 1939, the training for the Malay Regiment has been enhanced and additional strength was added. On 1 Dec 1941, Second Battalion of the Malay Regiment was formed to face the attack from Japanese Forces. Company A from Second Battalion of the Malay Regiment was the first unit to battle with the Japanese that landed on Pantai Cinta Berahi (now known as Pantai Cahaya Bulan), Kelantan on 8 December 1941. The Japanese Army enormous strength had forced the company to retreat to Kuala Krai and subsequently to Singapore. In Singapore, the First and Second Battalion of the Malay Regiment have fought alongside with British Forces against the enemy advance. The Malay Regiment has opposed vigorously in the vicinity of Pasir Panjang, Buona Vista, Labrador and Alexander
Lt Adnan bin Saidi
A terrible episode which is hard to forget in the history of Malaysian Army was the capture of Bukit Chandu by the Japanese Army which was defended by No. 7 Platoon, Company C, First Battalion Malay Regiment led by Lt Adnan bin Saidi. After failing the first attempt, the enemy attacked again, doubled in strength. In this fierce battle, the soldiers of No. 7 Platoon have fought with high spirit without giving up. Lt Adnan himself operated the Lewis Machinegun and encouraged his men. Although he was injured, he kept fighting until the last drop of his blood. Finally, the enemy troops conquered Bukit Chandu and Lt. Adnan was stabbed with a bayonet, and his body was hung on a tree with his head downwards.
On 28 February 1942, another heartbreaking event occurred when eight officers from the Malay Regiment, after becoming Prisoners of War were killed in Pasir Panjang due to their refusal of removing their military uniforms. Apart from soldiers of the Malay Regiment, many Malay citizens volunteered to join the Federation Volunteer Forces to fight the enemy, and countless were killed. Some Malays also served the British Army such as Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RACC), Royal Artillery (RA) and other units. The Japanese conquered Singapore on 15 February 1942, and soldiers of the Malay Regiment who were still alive became Prisoners of War. When they were ordered to return to their villages, many of them refused and continued their battle against the Japanese government through underground movement.