The second was 1 SIR which was opposite Pandan Valley. According to Peter who used to live nearby; “The original barracks of 1 SIR were built on the hilly terraced slopes of Hill 110 which faced Old Holland Road and its junction with Ulu Pandan Road. The present parade square (at the foot of Hill 200) was not built until early 1962. The single-storey buildings were made from wood and had asbestos roofs. Shortly after independence from Malaysia, some of these wooden buildings were demolished to make way for the present rows of multi-storey concrete buildings facing Old Holland Road. The new buildings were meant to cater to the NS intakes. For field training such as 81mm mortar weapons, the hilly spaces (flattened in the early 1970s to make way for Pandan Valley Condominium) opposite to the camp were used.”
The main entrance to the camp was from Ulu Pandan Road. But there was a small road leading to it from Old Holland Road. In the late seventies, when squash was a big craze among young Singaporeans, my friend who was an SAF regular brought me there occasionally for a game of squash. I will blog about those old squash courts of yesteryears in another article. 1 SIR occupied the Ulu Pandan site from 1958 through 1969 when it relocated to Dunman Road and it became known as Guillemard Camp. The camp at Ulu Pandan Road was converted into the School for Military Medicine or SMM for short.
The third camp was 2 SIR. It was located on a small hill and its entrance was from Old Holland Road. I have not entered the camp before but have seen it from the main road. It had several wooden buildings. It was visible from Mount Sinai View.
This is a 1965 Photo courtesy of Peter Chan showing the entrance of the camp. In the background is 1 SIR.
And finally I come to the part which you guys are waiting for; the ghost stories. In the early 70’s, there were stories circulating about some army camps being haunted. I was not sure whether to believe them or not, but soldiers being soldiers, it was fun to listen and retell these stories. As far as I can recall, there were five army camps that were rumoured to be haunted. The first was Pulau Tekong Camp (I think it was the camp further inland - cannot remember if it was Camp I or II) where I did one in-camp training in the 80’s. Another was Tampines Camp. The third was the Magazine Tower 2 of Safti (now called Pasir Laba Camp). I myself have done a few guard duties here and never experienced anything worth telling. The fourth was the School of Combat Engineers in Pulau Blakang Mati (Sentosa). The fifth, and most famous (‘spiritwise’) was 2 SIR.
When I doing my Section Leaders Course in Safti after completing my BMT (basic military training) also at Safti, some of my new platoon mates who joined us had done their BMT in 2 SIR. They told us many ghost stories about this place. Unfortunately I can only recall a bit. For example, they said that at night they often heard people moving about in their bunks; but they were too frightened to get up to check. One particular recruit, quite a fat chap, often woke up in the morning to find that his sleeping position had somehow been reversed. I am sorry I don’t remember much else.
My brother David who served as a corporal in the demolition platoon in 2 SIR in 1971/72 used to tell us about one of the toilets being haunted. Apparently the corpses of soldiers who were killed in Kota Tinggi during the Indonesian Confrontation were brought back from Malaysia and ‘washed’ in this toilet. According to Peter, their decomposed bodies were brought back to this camp for the Malay burial rituals. As to what actually happened to those dead soldiers, I will let Peter give you the gory details in the next post.
Recently, I emailed my brother David, who is now in Perth, if he remembered those ghost stories that he used to tell us, and his reply was; Yes, definitely. This is what he wrote:
“2 SIR comprised of 2 camps, divided by a road. Most of the platoons, including HQ, guard house, main parade square were located on one side, while demolition and other support platoons like mortar were in the other camp. Both camps were located on top of small hills.
It was in the smaller camp that most of the so-called "ghost sightings" were made. I was in Demolition platoon, after my section leader course .... that was sometime around 1971-1972.
One of the most common stories was that around late evening, say, 6.30 pm till 7 pm, a young lady in white runs across the road near the canteen. The other story was that people often heard weird crying sounds when they were showering.
I have a true personal experience. It was a Saturday night. I was then on duty (don’t think it was guard duty) and was sleeping on a mattress in the office of the Demoliton platoon. Around midnight, I was awakened up by marching sounds just outside the office .... up and down .... clog, clog, clog ..... I tried to stand up but just could not - maybe my legs went soft. It went on for a few minutes then stopped. I could not sleep for another few hours and was too scared to go out to investigate. Next morning, I checked around to see if there were any soldiers who stayed over the weekend - none .... anyway who wants to stay in camp over the weekend.
Many years later, when i was working for Citibank, I heard from colleagues that the hill where our camp was located used to be execution grounds for Japanese soldiers during WW2. Opposite 2 SIR, in the Moonbeam Terrace hills, it was also another execution and burial grounds during WW2.
The Hokkien soldiers in our support platoons were especially strong believers that the camp was haunted. One private soldier even painted a big picture of a tiger on the wall of one building (don’t know why he was not punished for it ), but he got very sick a few days later. As usual, the other soldiers blamed it on the 'ghosts'.
Well that’s about it, more sounds and rumours actually ...... nothing like what you see in Liao Zhai. However, my personal story is true. In fact it’s the only "encounter" I have ever had in my life.”