Monday, April 02, 2007

From My Inbox - 31 March 2007

Hi, my name is Tom Brown. I am from Edinburgh, Scotland UK.

It brought alot of memories back when I came across your website, Good Morning Yesterday. I know your site is for Singaporeans and friends of Singapore of your generation, Lam. I could not help myself from sending this mail.

I was 19 year of age when I was in Singapore, in 1961. I was with the First Queen's Own Highlanders stationed in Selarang camp, Changi. When I went out of camp, I met a lot of friendly people. They always had a smile for you. I always remember the shops, food stalls. At night, I used to walk from Selarang to Changi Village, and I loved the beach

Thanks for the memorries. Hope to hear from you.

Tom



Today, Selarang Camp is home to the a drug rehabilitation centre.

More information on the names mentioned in Tom's email can be found below:

Selarang Camp
Queen's Own Highlanders

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Hi, from the comment by Aiyah Nonya about the torture of British & Australian POWs in Selarang during the 2nd World War, I decided to do a bit of research and found a website with interesting information of the famous Selarang Incident. You can also read about Selarang Barracks in 1942 here. I have also copied one of their photos showing Selarang Barracks in 1942 above. I hope the owners of the photo will be understanding about my infringement of their copyrights. - Lam Chun See, 05 April 2007.

17 comments:

zen said...

Tom- It is good to know that you, another UK friend, has joined us. Welcome to GMY. When you first came to Singapore in 1961, I had just completed my secondary school and was about to start my working life. A quick calculation shows that you are in my age group. As time goes by, we become more nostalgic of yester years. In fact I posted an earlier story of my trip to a small sleepy town of Segamat (Malaysia/Johore), the place where I was borned, all because of an instinctive urge to reminisce the past. I shall ask my younger brother Chun See to post some recent photos of Selarang camp for your pleasure viewing.

Lam Chun See said...

Zen. If you click on the link to Selarang Camp at the bottom of the above post, it will bring you to a site where there are some old photos of Selarang Barracks which I am sure will bring back even more memories to Tom.

Tom - do hope that you will visit this blog regularly, and if possible share some of your stories with our readers, the majority of whom, I believe are not familiar with the history of Selarang and that part of Spore.

As for me; I have visited the camp once in the early 80's when it was part of the Spore Armoured Formation. My army friend, a regular who was my section mate during my OCS (Officer Cadet School) days was the log officer in the camp. At that time, Sporeans were crazy about squash and there were very few squash courts in Spore. So a few of us went all the way to Selarang Camp, one weekend just to play a few rounds of squash.

aiyah nonya said...

I told my husband about the camp. He mentioned that there was a firing squad left behind from the post-war days.
There was also a few holes on the ground - about 6 feet deep and about the size of a man. He said it was used to torture POWs.
He remember seeing this when he was there in 1979. We wonder If it is still there since it is now taken over by the drug rehab. Any idea ?

Brian Mitchell said...

Tom

as a fellow guest blogger here a great welcome to you. I was in Singapore 1960-62 whilst a schoolboy and lived not far from the barracks in Toh Drive which you can see on the map added to your item. We might well have travelled on the same buses to and from Changi Village!

Anonymous said...

Tom said,
sen, aiyah nonya,brian
Thanks for excepting me as a fellow guest blogger,and I thank Ghun see for puting the photos of selarang camp on the site for me to see The first block on the left on the top floor is where I stayed the holes in the ground Iremember them

Brian Mitchell said...

It is interesting to read about Selarang. I had always known about Changi as a POW camp during WW2 but had not heard about the Selarang incicent. My brother has just received the service record of my late father who served in the Royal Air Force from about 1940 onwards and who was posted to Changi in 1960 (hence my experience of living there). He spent most of the war years in the Middle East (including Baghdad of all places) and I recall him telling me that he had been ordered to Singapore and was on his way when the surrender took place - so he thankfully did not spend the next few years as a POW.

zen said...

Some unfortunate POWs were rounded up from Singapore Changi, maybe also from Selarang, to build the infamous bridge over the river Rwai in Thailand. The experiences must be horrifying. I am puzzled why those ex POWs love to revisit sites of those places that could back bad memories, trying to relive their past enounters? Swamps of ex old allied soldiers, including Germans, flooded the landing sites of Normandy beaches, as though having open air-parties, as reported recently in the news. From my own observation, I believe whether experiences are good or bad, they have in themselves, nostalgic value.

Brian Mitchell said...

Zen

I imagine that most veterans will revisit to pay respects to dead comrades who did not make it. Any visit to a war grave or memorial is in my experience one that makes you grateful for the sacrifice made - and always reminds you just how young most of those who were engaged in war and conflict were

zen said...

Brian - You are real sharp. I overlook the cemetries! That is the problem, though I was borned in the midst of WWII, I did not witness the horrrors of war, let alone our young Singaporeans. A group of us had a dialogue with a ex British Army personnel (major), who proudly related his action in Sicily in WWII. He said: "You Singaporeans have not gone through the mill - fighting a war, and therefore raw and inexperienced". Though this major was outspoken, but his observation was correct. However, we do not relish his war exploits.

Anonymous said...

Tom said,
Selarang Incident, I beleave was about the mumbers of prisoners put into the camp area,by the Japanese
army. 17,thousand of them it must
have been hell in there.

The fall of Singapore was one of the great mistakes the British army had made,They thought there was big Japanese army just across the causeway at Johore Bahru ,and they surenderd, Singapore was invaded on Feb. 8 there was fierce fighting.Many civilians perished in the bomb raids 1942.

zen said...

Tom - There are volumes of books giving a multitude of reasons why Singapore fell. There are various versions both from the British and the Japanese sides. I believe British commanders did know the strength of the Japanese troops as they fought against the Japanese for 70 days, from the day one when the Japanese landed in Kota Bahru (Kelantan)and Patani (Thailand), right up to the surrender. All in all, I believe is poor preparation, misjudgement, wrong tactics, second rate fighting equipments were some of the many causes for the disaster. My father (working in the British Naval Base) told me: "How could the inferior Buffalos and Mosquitos stand against the superior Zero fighters of the Japanese?" Last minute sending of British warships like the Repulse and Prince of Wales against Japanese Landing in N.E Malaya (hoping to surprise the Japanese), without fighter planes escort, were just siting ducks against the Japanese air-planes based in Indo-China and from aircraft carriers.

Anonymous said...

TOM SAID.

ZEN
I agree what you said that there are many reasons why Singapore fell. the book called , the WORLDS GREATEST MISTAKES, By
NIGEL BLUNDELL He quoted that the
Japanese used Bicycles, Before
they came across to Singapore the
British soldiers who were oberving
across the causeway and thought they were out mumberd Thier an old
saying lions led by donkeys.

zen said...

Japanese are known for their thoughness in doing things even up to this day. Their forces rehearsed in Taiwan long before their invasion of S.E.Asia. They knew Malaya had good roads (through spies). Therefore being road-blocked was expected, hence resulting in ther deployment of bicycle-troops, by-passing the road blocks, with British forces taken completely by surprise. There were numerous debacles from the British side, caused by constant attacks by Japanese simultaneously in all directions - land, sea, and air. It was true that under such hellish condition that the British forces lost their true sense of judgement, making unbelievable errors. PM Churchill said that the fall of Singapore was one of the greatest military defeats in British History.

Anonymous said...

Tom said

Zen I will have to surrender to you
on this subject.I have a gut feeling that you are very good at
history, espcially on (w.w.2) in the far east, I will have change the subjcet Zen. By the way is there aplace still called Katong in Singapore Iuse to go there on a
Saturday morning to buy clothes it
was a very busy, has it change in
any way

zen said...

Tom - Oh yes Katong is still around still very vibrant with many shopping complexes and eating places, but most kampongs are gone, but there are still some old shop-houses and buildings remained. There is also a replica of a Malay village (in Eunos) near to Katong. I use to joke with visiting friends that if one takes a small stone and throw it in any direction, it would hit a eating place in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Tom said
Zen Iremember reading a news paper called the sraits times, The prime minister then was lee kuan yew.He said he would change Singapore I thing he has Just done that,is it for the better because I admire that man he was for the people and his country.I wonder if brian or your self, remembers this fishing pool. When I use to go for a wee walk,I turned right out of selerang
camp main gate , down the road there was a kampong you pass it, I Just cant mind if it was firt or second right, the road headed for Nee soon on the corner of that road was the fishing pool.

zen said...

Tom - I was like a fish in a small pond in my younger days, confining to my kampong, seldom moved out, therefore unable to reconnect you to the mentioned location. Sad to say the kampong scene has mostly gone, including my own kampong Lorong Chuan, which has now become part of the MRT network(rail system) in Bishan. I now understand why European countries keep many old buildings intact - just for memory and tourists, otherwise future generation can only see them in photos.