Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lynne Copping Remembers Pulau Brani

Hi,

I saw your request for childhood memories on Memories of Singapore and have posted one comment about kampongs on your blog.

I have helped to set up a website for ex Singapore school pupils of British Forces schools, and we have so far had four terrific reunions. (only in England, maybe one day we will make it to Singapore). There are lots of photos of old Singapore on Alexandra Grammar


My father was army, but in the water transport as a navigator on the landing crafts. I lived on the small island of Pulau Brani and went to the army primary school from 1958-1961 and then lived there again from 1963-1966, when I went to Alexandra Grammar School at Gillman Barracks and St Johns Comprehensive in Dover Road.


Pulau Brani Primary School

Any items on Pulau Brani on the internet do not mention the army school, , nor the fact that the British lived there for about 50 years - only the two local schools - as if we never existed.


Alexandra Grammar School and Alexandra Secondary Modern School were both at Gillman, and in 1964 the older pupils moved into the brand new buildings of St Johns Comprehensive School in Dover Road (now the United World College), with the first and second year secondary pupils staying behind in the old Alexandra Grammar building which was renamed Bourne School. At first only 1st and 2nd years stayed in the old buildings, but I believe that the following year it was changed to 1st, 2nd and 3rd years, but someone who went to Bourne would have to confirm that. All I remember is that my brother and I went into the 3rd and 4th years in the new school, by ferry and then bus from Jardine Steps.

pulau_brani_schoolferry

School ferry leaving Pulau Brani


I have started collecting a lot of photographs of Pulau Brani, so if any of your readers have any, I would be most interested. It was a wonderful place to have a childhood, and I have many fond memories of it. By the way, some of my photos are on display in the Singapore Naval Museum.


1968 Photo of Pulau Brani

1968 Photo of Pulau Brani

My amah lived at Kampong Saga (I think it was called) in a house on stilts. I believe that they were relocated to Tanjong Belayer. Is there any way that I could perhaps find out where she moved to? We called her Taliap, but I have an old wedding photo of her, with a Chinese name on it. From memory, I think that it was Sim Geck Siam; but I would have to look for it and check.

I read your articles on kerosene lamps and elections. I remember that we had a visiting night market, (weekly/monthly ??) and the smell of a kerosene lamp takes me right back to those days. I can also remember the campaigning for the elections, with speakers and posters, but can't remember when that was.

So many memories, I have lots more.

By the way, (like Chun See), one of my favourite authors is Neville Shute, and A Town like Alice my favourite story, (and film - the original black and white version). Requiem for a Wren (one of Chun See’s favourites) mentions my home town of Ellon (about page 18 or thereabouts) !!!!



Regards,
Lynne Wilson (now Mrs Copping)

22 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

Lynne. The night markets you mentioned are called Pasar Malam in Malay. We still have those in Spore but somehow its rather different - maybe too organised and clean.

The ones in Ipoh are closer to those of our time. Next trip I will take some photos of the pasar malams and the food.

Victor said...

Thanks to Chun See and Lynne for the wonderful post. Without both of you, these amazing stories and photos may never see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

After the British Forces left Singapore in 1971, the local Government was very worried about the defence vaccum of this country. Subsequently ANZUK - the defence of this region comprising of Australia, New Zealand and UK forces with Singapore was borned. One day, while in the Sembawang Chartered Bank (servicing ANZUK personnel), I over-heard a couple of service men lamented that their deployment period to Singapore was about to end and were going to be posted back to Australia, and NZ shortly. I was wondering that they had been in Singapore for a few years and should have seen enough of this place, why the sadness ? Later on I came to know the reason: the ANZUK people were actually regretted leaving not only Singapore but the whole region, in which Singapore was their launching pad for adventure. My message is that foreigners, including the locals, should not miss out visiting interesting places in South East Asia.

chuck said...

Prior to reading this post, I never knew that there was such a kampong known as Kampong Saga in Spore. All along, we thought that that area was part of the PSA wharves. As for Tanjung Berlayer, I know that it used to be a ferry terminal for trips to the outlying islands. Now, I believe it is part of the Labrador Nature Partk I too did not know that there used to a kampong there.

Thank you Lynne for this very informative post.

Lam Chun See said...

Does anyone know the difference (in function) between the ferry terminals at Tanjung Berlayer and the one at Pasir Panjang, near the Wholesale Centre (recently much in the news becos of the Huang Na murder case) and the one at Jardine steps during those days?

peter said...

Tanjung Berlayar and Jardine Steps (foot of former Cable Car Tower and the open space car park) were operated by the British Military in the 1950s to mid-60s.

They were used as a transport point for personnel and equipment moving into Blakang Mati (Sentosa today) and Brani.

Blakang Mati used Jardine Steps for landing craft service. With the British Pullout in 1971, Tg Berlayar was used by SAF (old name for navy was some "XXXX Maritime Command") to ferry personnel to Brani. At the same time Jardine Steps was discontinued.

Lam Chun See said...

I have a cousin who worked with one of the oil companies (probably Shell) in the 80's. He told me he travelled to work each day by ferry from Tg Berlayer?

jetty said...

I am doing some research on british colonial architecture, including military barracks and hospitals. This research led me to the Royal Engineers Library at Chatham. Over there, I found some wonderful photo albums donated by former REs on their life at Pulau Brani. They were stationed there from 1880s to 1930s (when they moved to Changi, I think). A few of the photos are here -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiathwee/sets/72157606586750801/

Lam Chun See said...

Peter Robinson has posted the following comments at Yesterday.sg where this article was cross-posted.

"I was the second in command of 37 Maritime Squadron RCT, from Feb 66 to Aug 68. The Squadron operated, harbour launches, patrol boats and small landing craft, manned by a mixture of locally enlisted soldiers and War Department civilian crews. 74 and 75 Landing Craft Tank Squadrons, were also based there, together with a Maritime Workshop and Boat Stores. Larger RFA ships, LST's and LSL's moored nearby, whilst waiting to load/unload in the docks or the Tanjong Belayer hard. There were single and married quarters, officers and sergeants messes, and a school. Two malay kampongs and a small tin mine were there also. On the other side of the Selat Singkir Channel was Blackang Mati (now renamed Palau Sentosa), with 2/10 Gurkha Rifles. Both islands were dotted with old fortifications, and gun positions. Military ferries ran to Jardine Steps, and a vehicle ferry to Tanjong Belayer (10 Port Squadron RCT) A famous member of P Brani was Hadji Mansoor, the foreman waterman, responsible for the slipway. He had served from before WW2, and awarded the BEM, as well as visiting Mecca, twice. His curry puffs were mouth watering. Kim, our pigman (chinese, not malay!!) ran a farm, which made money for the soldiers welfare fund. We had several boats in Borneo during 'confrontation', and also provided inshore patrols round Singapore. A very happy unit where all races got on well together, and respected each others culture. I left in Sep 68, to join 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade in Hong Kong. I still have some contact with Hussein bin Armad, who was a Captain, commanding a vessel troop.
"

Lam Chun See said...

Hi there Peter Robinson. If you are reading this, could you pls contact me at: cslam@hoshin.com.sg

Lynne thinks that you might know her dad and would like to get in touch.

Adrian Featherstonhaugh said...

My father was a Captain/Major in the RASC and posted to Malaya during the emergency. I was born in the BMH at Singapore in 1955 and we lived on Pulau Brani I believe - there is a picture of me as a small baby with our Armah outside the house that, along with numerous pictures of military parades, are all I can find as a record of that part of my life.
So, the information that has been posted is marvellous for me ands so interesting - thank you very much and am so glad that I managed to find it!.

James said...

Hi my name is James Cresdee and i was born in BMH Singapore in 1960. I spent the first six years on Palau Brani running a little wild through the jungle and playing on the kampongs. Looking back now, i had such an idyllic life. Our armah was a lovely woman who treated us all like her family and was very much missed when we left for England.My mother is chinese malay and so i have been fortunate to have family in Singapore and Malaysia. My father was a staff sargeant in the REME on Palau Brani running the maratime workshop and boat store. He spent a good many years in Singapore out of his 22 years service and being a keen photographer took a good many pictures of the island, its coast and singapore itself. Maybe one day i can publish them for everyone to remember!

Stuart said...

Concerning Jardine Steps, I remember as a child living on Pulau Bukom between 1960 and 1969 and the only way to Singapore throughout was by ferry to Jardine steps. I went to Raeburn Park school and travelled every day via Jardine Steps. The ferries were the Laju, Chepat, and a third new one added later but can't remember the name. Hope that helps.
Stuart Chambers

Anonymous said...

Remember 2 persons,Wak Lek(Malek) and Wak Mastor enginemen,there were also a Chinese and an Indian,sorry,could not remember their names working at the engine room at top of the hill and I still remember one time there was a man horseriding on that hill...still remember there was a monkey tied at a huge tree...above the RASC Qtrs Pulau Brani...

Alan said...

I was the Corporal in charge of 443BAD Ammunition Sub Depot on Blakang Mati 1953/55.All our civilian labour lived on Pulau Brani and came across daily by sampan to the Serapong jetty.There was a photograph taken of them all,the foreman was Mohammed Noor bin Som.Maybe the photograph survived amongst decendants of the above?.

Anonymous said...

I was stationed at Tanjong Berlayer with an amphibious unit, who were part of 10 Maritime Regiment RCT. This was from 1966 to 1969. If you look on the 18 Amphibious Squadron, dedicated website, you will find a lot of photographs from soldiers stationed in Tanjong Berlayer and other parts of the region.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne,
The old atap house on the left belong to my family. My father was a fisherman. I showed this blog to my mom and she cried when she saw the kampong house of Pulau Brani. Its remind her of her late husband. Photo taken in 1968 and I was born in 1966.

Thanks..

Anonymous said...

I lived on Pulau Brani as an 8 year old in 1952. It was a fabulous place to be a young boy. My father was an army officer in the RASC stationed at No.6 Boat Stores on the island. It operated landing craft such as LST and LCIs. There were also two supply ships that came out from the UK who's names I don't remember.

I went to a school on Blakang Mati, making the short trip in an army launch every day. Many mornings we would met the launch bring Shell employee's children and race it in to the jetty, they had the faster boat and always won. They lived on what we called Shell Island but I never knew the Malaysian name. I also recall taking sampans from the island to Jardine Steps to go shopping - Change Alley being my favourite destination.

When not at school we roamed freely over the Brani. Someone else has mentioned the WW2 fortifications and we played on one overlooking Singapore that still had some shells lying around. On one occasion we lit a fire to try and set one off, fortunately unsuccessfully. We also took rifle rounds apart for the sticks of cordite in them again, luckily, without injury.

We roamed around the kampongs, where we were always treated kindly and one time allowed in to a house to watch a wedding. The 'we' I have been referring to would have been the Jones boys, the sons of another British Army officer; I wonder where they are today.

Later my family moved to Singapore and then KL but Pulau Brani was the best place we lived so far as I was concerned.

Thanks for triggering some great memories Lynne.

Anonymous said...

I lived on Pulau Brani as an 8 year old in 1952. It was a fabulous place to be a young boy. My father was an army officer in the RASC stationed at No.6 Boat Stores on the island. It operated landing craft such as LST and LCIs. There were also two supply ships that came out from the UK who's names I don't remember.

I went to a school on Blakang Mati, making the short trip in an army launch every day. Many mornings we would met the launch bring Shell employee's children and race it in to the jetty, they had the faster boat and always won. They lived on what we called Shell Island but I never knew the Malaysian name. I also recall taking sampans from the island to Jardine Steps to go shopping - Change Alley being my favourite destination.

When not at school we roamed freely over the Brani. Someone else has mentioned the WW2 fortifications and we played on one overlooking Singapore that still had some shells lying around. On one occasion we lit a fire to try and set one off, fortunately unsuccessfully. We also took rifle rounds apart for the sticks of cordite in them again, luckily, without injury.

We roamed around the kampongs, where we were always treated kindly and one time allowed in to a house to watch a wedding. The 'we' I have been referring to would have been the Jones boys, the sons of another British Army officer; I wonder where they are today.

Later my family moved to Singapore and then KL but Pulau Brani was the best place we lived so far as I was concerned.

Thanks for triggering some great memories Lynne.

Mardiana said...

Thanks for these Lynne! I was born and bred a Brani gal. I left the island in 1973. i will upload some more data soon. Cheers Lynne. Mardiana Abu Bakar

Lynne Copping said...

Would the anonymous person who lived on Pulau Brani in 1952 like to get in touch with me, as I would like to find out more about the primary school on Blakang Mati, which i went to in 1958, before the school moved on to Pulau Brani.

Ihave started a Facebook group about Pulau Brani, https://www.facebook.com/groups/31657401621/
Please post your memories.
If Peter Robinson gets in touch then I would like to contact him, I can be emailed on singaporeschool.reunion@gmail.com

wildenrath2000 said...

I would still like to hear from Peter Robinson and the anonymous person who lived there in 1952. My friend's Jean and Michael Penney were also small children on Pulau Brani in 1952. Their amah, Taliap, became ours when we were there in 1958-63 and 1963-66 (as Lynne Wilson). Jean and I met her when we went to Singapore in June 2014 for a school 50th anniversary reunion. (She is now Madame Sin Geck Sian).