Last year, Peter and I blogged about the old Jurong Railway Line. I kicked of the series with a story of how I was involved in ‘blowing up’ the railway bridge at Clementi during my combat engineers training course more than 30 years ago. In that article I mentioned that we had a similar exercise to ‘blow up’ another bridge near the western end of the Jurong Line. This was a bridge that joined Shipyard Road to Pulau Samulum. I had wanted to blog about it earlier but did not have any photos of the bridge to show you.
I finally got the chance to revisit this bridge on 20th December last year, when I accompanied some friends of Yesterday.sg to explore the remnants of the Jurong Line. One of my friends, PY has in fact started a series of articles about our trip that day. But what I want to blog about today is that army exercise.
The name of the exercise was either Exercise Mongoose or Exercise Punch 2; I cannot remember for sure. It was a demolition raid and our mission was to blow up this bridge as well as a section of the railway tracks near the junction of Shipyard Road and Tanjong Kling Road. I was in the main force involved in ‘demolishing’ the bridge whilst a smaller group carried out the secondary task.
I cannot remember much details except that some of us were lowered by toggle rope to attach the ‘explosives (charges)’ to the columns. Of course we did not use real explosives, just sandbags to simulate the real thing. I remember as we were being pulled up, one of us (me?) hit the head on a horizontal concrete beam. Mind you, all this was happening in the dead of the night. Fortunately he had his steel helmet on and was not hurt.
As usual, after the ‘explosion’ and ‘fire-fight’ with the ‘enemies’, a technical break was called by the exercise controllers for us to tidy up the area and load our stores onto an awaiting three-tonner. When the exercise resumed, we had to carry out the most dreaded part of the exercise which was withdrawal and the obligatory evacuation of casualties.
As I think back, I realize, we did some pretty crazy stuff during our NS training which today’s soldiers won’t have the chance to do because Singapore is so heavily populated nowadays. For example, I remember one occasion when we went to recce the Toa Payoh Flyover at Braddell Raod. With all the traffic around us, we (in army uniform) had to run around and take measurements of the ‘vital statistics’ of the flyover. That time it was only a technical exercise to calculate the type and amount of explosives required to do the job.
Ah …. those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.
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