I wrote a few weeks ago about some of my plane-spotting and photographing exploits in Singapore in the 1960s and promised a tale of when I really did get into trouble!
We spent a great deal of time at the then RAF Changi Officers Club swimming pool (still there, but now I think the Junior Sailing Club) and would see naval ships cruising past Pulau Ubin on their way to the naval base at Sembawang. One day, it was early 1962 I think, we were particularly excited by the arrival of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, huge and impressive and very close to our beach.
But not close enough of course for myself and my friend Kerry who persuaded his parents to drive us to the naval base for a closer look a few days later. I am not sure what security was like then, maybe service personnel could easily visit other bases, for Kerry and I were soon on the dockside, cameras out, with the aircraft carrier and all its aircraft looming over us, just waiting to be photographed!
But not for long! It was perhaps only a few minutes before we suddenly became aware of a Sikh military policeman and his colleagues bearing down on us. Our excuses were useless and we were bundled into the back of a police Land Rover and taken at speed to the guard room.
There we found ourselves transferred to a concrete walled cell, open to the sky with a wire grill for a ceiling. We had plenty of time to contemplate our position, presumably whilst they discussed what to do with us – 14 years old and banged up for espionage!
Eventually we were brought out, Kerry’s parents had been found and were there, and our arresting officer gave us a very angry talking to. Our film was confiscated but not our cameras – that would indeed have been a severe punishment. Eventually our talking to over, we were released.
I remember well as we staggered into Kerry’s parent’s car, hands shaking – indeed so sorry did his father feel for us that he offered us a cigarette each - I think I refused but if I recall correctly Kerry took his!
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