If I were to ask you what was the most prominent landmark in Depot Road, you would probably say that it was the Mindef Complex comprising the Central Manpower Base and the two huge Defence Technology Towers. During my years at the National Productivity Board in Bukit Merah Central, I could see this complex taking shape from scratch from my office on the 19th floor of what is today called the Spring Building. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to take some photos and so I cannot describe to you what the place looked like then. Do you know what used to occupy this area prior to the building of the Mindef complex?
From what I can recall from memory, it was a place we called Ammo Base. During my NS days when I was in the combat engineers, I remember coming to this place to chop bamboo trunks. You see for us field combat engineers, we needed to have two huge bamboo poles in our three tonners at all times. This was for the purpose of camouflaging the vehicle using the standard camouflage net. We used these bamboo poles to prop up the camouflage net to break the shape of the vehicle. In fact, for the section proficiency test, the section commanders were tested on how fast they could complete this task.
The Ammo Base was located at a rather secluded corner of Depot Road. Surrounded by thick vegetation, it was not very visible from the main road. There were several huge bamboo trees outside the camp and so we did not have to actually enter the camp to get our bamboo.
I have always been rather curious about this place that I have visited long ago and so I asked Karu if he remembered; and this is what he said:
"The Ammo Depot you are talking about was called Magazine Area. I used to be on duty there. I was with the Army Depot Police from 1969 to 1971. Sometimes when on Night Duty, we needed to patrol in pairs down the roads inside the Magazine Area. Saw many snakes there, and it was very eerie at night, when the bamboo rubs against each other, they create a kind of eerie noise. There is also this 'jambu' like fruits there. As you patrol in the night, suddenly one will drop in front of you and roll down. Quite scary when on Night Duty."
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