Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ex-British Servicemen visit Good Morning Yesterday

These past few days, this blog received many visits from ex-British servicemen. Apparently they were alerted to Peter’s article about the gun battery at Chestnut Drive. In particular, Ken Nichols and his friends recognized Peter’s photo and remember serving in Singapore in the 1960’s. This is what he wrote in the comments section:

Thank you for responding to my post, and to answer your question,…I found the link to “Good Morning Yesterday” here and I immediately became interested in Bukit Timah Heritage Trail - Gun Battery at Chestnut Drive because I am one of those British soldiers who served on one of those guns and I still have some very happy memories of those days in Singapore in the 1960s.

You have said the photo wasn’t taken at Tengah so perhaps my memory isn’t as good as it was, after all, it is 45 years ago since I was there but when I saw the photo I immediately thought it was of my site which was located some distance to the right of the road which you would travel on when approaching Tengah from the Singapore city direction.

To reach the site that I remember, you would need to follow a track leading off that main road which wound its way through a kampong and then you would negotiate a steep hill which was very difficult for the trucks to ascend until several truck loads of course gravel could be laid down. Once at the top of the hill the site had such a commanding view of RAF Tengah and the runway that I can remember actually tracking larger aircraft such as the American B52 and a British Vulcan bomber which visited Tengah about 1965 as they trundled down the runway during take-offs and landings.

And I remember there were kampongs located towards the base of the hill on three sides, but on the fourth side, although not visible to us from the top of the hill, was a cemetery which I can vaguely remember being instructed to avoid.

Incidentally, as a point of interest, if the photograph wasn’t of one of the Bofors gun deployed around Tengah then it would have to be either at Changi or Seletar because these three airfields were the only three locations where guns of that type were deployed

Cheers, Ken

Ken also remembers speaking to young kampong boys who came up to him. I wonder if he ever imagined that not much later, these boys would take over their role in defending Singapore.

At the same time, there is a discussion going on at this forum. One interesting question been discussed, with Peter actively participating is the location of this photo posted by Roger-Hatchy which I have downloaded below for your reference. I hope some of our readers here can recognize this place and help us to confirm where exactly it is. You do realize of course that this photo is 45 years old!

From my Inbox

On a different matter, I received a very pleasant email from Fred Steele who served in the Royal Military Police from 1961 to 1973. He was probably stationed at Gillman Barracks. This is what he wrote:

“I would just like to say how much I enjoyed reading your blog and bringing back happy memories of my days in Singapore and its wonderful people, they were perhaps the best days of my life, a thought which is shared by many of my friends as every year we hold a Singapore Reunion to chat about the ‘Good old days’. Perhaps you may like to view my own website.

Thanks Fred. I have visited your site and noticed that the photo of the kampong with pigs roaming about which I used in my previous article is in your photo gallery. I hope I have not inadvertently infringed on your copyrights. I did get permission from Tom O’brien to use images from his wonderful website Memories of Singapore for my blog.

Anyway, as Singaporeans, we feel honoured that our British friends have such strong and endearing memories of our little country after so many years. We thank you guys for your service in protecting this country, a role that we took over and have since passed on to our children.


Anonymous said...

"The New CHPQ on pg 5" of that web site - was replaced by the SMU's Computer Science faculty (corner of Bencoolen Street and Bras Basah Road). In that photo, it has Cathay Cinema in the background. In front of that MP was the former Waterloo Street which connected Bras Basah Road to Stamford Road. Now is a part of SMU's garden.

Lam Chun See said...

Frankly, I wouldn't have believd that that photo by Roger Hatchy was taken in Spore. Didn't know that we had such a long 'mountain' range. On the other hand, until I joined Safti, I never knew Spore had so many high hills.

Anonymous said...

The photo that Roger-Hatchey put up shows a ridge. If you zoom in closely, you can see the radar station. This is the back of Bukit Gombak from the Choa Chu Kang side. Then somewhere between the ridge and the gun is a small village. That one is the Tengah Village which was between RAF Tengah and Keat Hong Camp. I think there is a SHELL staiton there (last few decades) and in the same place today. Opposite is the new SAF Logistic (???) or Singapore Police Training School. Behind the police training school was the old BULIM area, the Chinese cemetery and brick manufacturing factory at Hong Kah.

From other photos that Ken and friends took, some of them were taken right of the air strip facing Johore, north of Tengah Village.

I checked the photos that Ken mentioned which came from RAF 63 Sqdn, the location is definitely Chestnut Drive. In fact I can see an abandoned bungalow house (in one of the photo) at the junction of Chestnut Drive and Chestnut Crescent - house #44 today which was once my uncle's house.

Wah this is so exciting trying to find old places.

The ones that belong to Ken's unit at Tengah is a surprise because I never knew there were AA guns in/around Tengah when I was small boy. So the only think I can recognize is the ridge.

Icemoon said...

I think I found out where the Roger Hatchy photo was taken. If not, the clues should be sufficient for the oldies to pinpoint it down to the hill. Read it in my blog.

Anonymous said...

No military vehicle can access the the hilly area south of Cho Chu kang Road although the hills were closer to Choa Chu Kang.

During my NS days in the early 70s when we did outdoor training, the "ration truck" must always enter from Jurong Road. So Hong Kah Road was the only way to get inside. Hong Kah Road was a short metalled road; once inside you travel on dirt track.

On foot you can walk on Cho Chu kang and turn into BULIM to head south. I remember the brick-making factory called Jurong Brickworks if I am not wrong was there. One of the hills was our point to collect instructions for the next part of the journey in "Ex. Red Beret". After this point you walk inside the Hong kaj area heading westwards to cross Jalan Bahar into a small metalled road that now leads into NTU and then head northwards in the direction of SAFTI MI before ending just before the fence behind Charlie Company. Charlie Company is now School of Military Intelligence and is located south of this bridge that links old SAFTI to SAFTI - bdlg is still there on the right.

S Icemoon you suspect Hill 140?

Anonymous said...

Icemoon why not Hill 117?

Like to try another one? What was on the grounds of the present SAF School of Signals in Jalan Teck Whye?

Anonymous said...

I am posting several Singapore postcards on EBAy which many are real photos if anyone is interested. Many old views such as Malay Kampongs.