Friday, September 05, 2008

Where is the location of that artillery gun? The mystery deepens

I just received an email from Roger Hatchy. His email answers half a question, but raises another huge one.




Hello

You have certainly started something. I was with 12 Regiment, known as Hatchy, Roger-Hatchy, on the regimental site. I am also a member of servicepals.com.

I posted a photo of what I thought was the gun site that seems to have started a worldwide head-scratching contest.

I have found the photo that has the two personnel by the gun. I can tell you it was an RAF regiment gun from 63 Squadron RAF Regiment. The gentleman on the left is Archie Cairney and the other is not, at this moment, known. The website I found for this was given to me by a couple of friends while they were member of servicepals.com

If you look on the Royal Air Force Regiment Association website you will find to the left "Photos" with dates, the start photo is in the 1960-1970 album on page 3.

I have a few photos left from around 1963-1966. Lost most of the best ones. To my shame I was asked a few years ago to send them to someone. Peter’s name sounds familiar, I lost the email address.

When the Regiment first moved to Singapore I was with a gun detachment, but have no memories of its location. I then joined the Radar detachment, at the time we overlooked a cemetery and had to access the site past the cemetery. We them move the Radar to a hill to, if memory serves me, to the west /north west of airbase.

I can remember a gentleman trader that used to come around the sites on a bicycle trading soft drinks and snacks. How on earth he managed to get up to us on the second site amazed us all, 4x4 and 6x6 used to struggle, and the radar had to have two scammel wrecker to get it up there.

I will be posting some more photos to the regimental site soon. If you click on any of the photos already posted you will get access to all the photo I have uploaded to the share site.

Thanks for starting this, and thanks for a wonderful time while we were there.

Roger-Hatchy

Thanks to Roger, we now know that one of the two soldiers in Peter’s original Chestnut Drive photo is Archie Cairney of 63 Squadron RAF Regiment.

But where was this photo taken?

According to Peter it is Chestnut Drive. He wrote here:

The photo in my friend's blog was definitely in Chestnut Drive - I have a couple more and they are from Chestnut Drive area. I lived there for 25 years as a child. I had to wait until 2005 before I got hold of the photos from a friend in England. That AA unit was from the RAF but billeted in Tengah. RAF LAD 65 or 66 off my head.


But according to our British ‘lau pengs’ (that’s local lingo for old soldiers), it is near to Tengah. According to Ken’s description, it was off Choa Chu Kang, to the right, through a kampong, and up a steep hill with no proper road; and it had a commanding view of Tengah air base and the runway.

Should I trust the old soldiers’ memories of events 45 year ago or the 11-year old kid? Could it be that the soldiers that 11-year old Peter saw at Chestnut Drive was a totally different detachment?

Aaarh … this mystery is driving me (chest) nuts! I think this is the best time to call in the Second Shot detective, aka Icemoon.

Anyway, I would like to put up my own theory .. which of course needs further investigation.


I think Peter’s photo is in the Chestnut Drive area because if you look closely, there are a couple of red-tiled buildings on the right. When I checked the 1963 street directory, Chestnut Drive was already a developed area and Chestnut Drive was a proper metalled Road.

On the other hand the Choa Chu Kang area described by Ken Nichols was a kampong area without proper road. So how can there be red-tiled houses like those of Serangoon Gardens (in Hokkien it is called Ang Sar Lee or red roof).




1981 Map of Jalan Lekar – Choa Chu Kang Road vicinity. In this map, Jalan Lekar and Jalan Semangka are dirt tracks. But in the 1963 street directory, only a short stretch of Jalan Lekar is shown

My own guess is that the site our British friends referred to as H Sub was around the Jalan Lekar/Jalan Semangka area. According to my 1963 street directory, Jalan Lekar was just a small track of the main road which was probably a kampong then, and thus fitted Ken’s description. In fact even in my 1981 street directory, Jalan Lekar and Jalan Semangka were dirt tracks.

Ken also mentioned a nearby cemetery. I think that is still there today at Track 14 I have been to the nursery called Woon Leng at the upper end of Jalan Lekar and from there you can see the nearby hill where Farmart is located today. If time permits, I would go there this weekend and do a bit of recce to check out my theory.

4 comments:

peter said...

Chun See
I think we need someone from SAF artillery to explain this thing about battery, etc, Battery = company rgt?

Reading through Ken's forum, even lau peng also confused as to H, A or whatever battery they were called and where they were exactly located. But on close inspection of their base, not bad got fridge and TV? Wish SAF also got such benefits!!!!!I thot so the day I enlisted but found nothing close to what the British Army personnel had.

yg said...

i took this picture from outside the toh's garden located at the junction of jalan lekar and jalan semangka. could this be the spot or somewhere near it? this picture

Anonymous said...

Hi there Mr Lam,

Do you know about the history of the cemetery at track 14? Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

avidfan

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry. I don't know about the history of this place.