In the above announcement, the following places were mentioned: Chua Chu Kang, Marsiling, Jurong and Tuas. As far as I know, there were a number of other areas. Those that I have personally experienced include Hong Kah, Mandai, Neo Tiew Road and Tampines in the east.
Because my time was mainly spent in Safti, I experienced a lot of training in the Jurong area. Nowadays, I often fetch my daughter to her classes at the NTU (Nanyang Technological University). Driving along some of the fringe roads, I keep thinking that I must have done a couple of “Enemy on the right … Charge!”s there. That’s because from our training area, we could see the dormitories of Nantah. At that time, to access this area, we would get out of Safti via an opening in the fence on a slope at the back of OCS.
This used to be one of the many tracks that traversed this part of Singapore.
As for the Marsiling area; I remember it had a lot of vegetable farms and the area was very hilly. In my Section Leaders training days, I did lots of topo training here. The most prominent object here was the water pipe line. We were not allowed to follow it because that would make our job too simple ….. but do you think we would be so obedient? I remember one time we started off from a community centre in Jalan Malai in Bukit Panjang. There was a nearby Telecom exchange.
The most ‘memorable’ incident as far as Marsiling is concerned was when somebody in our company lost his bayonet. We wasted hours combing the area searching in the bushes, drains, ponds and vegetable plots for the missing bayonet. I cannot recall if it was found in the end.
Talking of blanks and thunder flashes, I am reminded of a tragic accident that happened during my time in NS (National Service). In those days, many civilian kids liked to follow the soldiers to pick up spent bullets (plastic blanks) in order to sell as scrap. Often they even ventured into the restricted areas like Area D in the Sungei Gedong area. In this particular accident, which I only learned from the newspapers, a young girl was rushing to pick up the bullets; and in her haste she got in front of a soldier’s rifle and was killed by the flash and hot gases emitting from the barrel. Yes; it’s true; blanks can kill if fired at close range; especially when you hit the vulnerable areas of a young victim. If you have seen the flash emerging from the barrel of the M16 firing blanks at night, you will believe me; especially when set to ‘auto’.
I am sure the older guys who have done NS will recall many incidents about doing their military training is such public areas. My friend Peter will share some of his memories the next time.