One day, I heard the roar of Bedford trucks in an open space behind my house. There were many armed British soldiers. In the next few days, a camp was built, but I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw this interesting piece of war arsenal protected by sandbags (see Picture 1). I am sure I can sketch the camp layout if given the chance because everything seems fresh in my mind about what took place some 45 years ago.
My kampong friends and I were thrilled. We approached these British soldiers but at the same time keeping our distance because we were afraid of the bigger built “Ang Mo Kwee”. One of the British soldiers waved to us and called us to come near. Why not? He offered us Fish and Chips. From Fish & Chips, we became friends and daily promptly at 5pm we made our way to this hill off Chestnut Drive. The reason was simple: we sat on the turret for our joy-ride.
Fast forward to 1971. When the first Yang Di-Pertuan Negara and later first President of the Republic of Singapore - Inche Yusoff Ishak - died, his family moved out of the Istana and lived on the Bofors gun site. Puan Noor Ashah, the x-president’s wife was a popular figure in our neighbourhood. We knew her family well. Today she has moved to Penang to be with her children and grand-children.
(Picture 1: The exposed hill in the background is that of Bukit Timah Hill from the Dairy Farm Road side - it was a granite quarry area. Below the Hill were the cultivated vegetable plots and the paddocks for the cows. One empty plot of land next to Dairy Farm Road was the cowshed where the Herefordshire breed of cows were kept.
There were two bungalow houses behind the British soldiers – to the left of one of the houses was Prof. Wong Lin Ken’s house. Prof. Wong was the Home Minister in the 1970s. Mr Jek Yuen Tong a former minister had his house to the left of the gun. Circa 1965)
(Picture 2: The blue-roof house in the middle of the photo was the Bofor gun site viewed from Petir Road. The hill in the background is Bukit Gombak. The tower up Bukit Gombak was the site of RAF Gombak radar station. Circa 2007)