The Inauguration of the Changi Camp Monument.
On Saturday the 27th. February 2010, at 5;30pm, a small gathering
of RAF Changi Association members and friends were present at Changi
Village to witness the inauguration of a monument, commemorating the
relationship that the villagers had enjoyed with the service personnel
based at RAF Station Changi. The monument is comprised of a De
Havilland Comet 4 aircraft with a plaque giving details of the dates when
the camp was in operation and when the inauguration took place. While it
is appreciated that the Comet was never actually based at RAF Station
Changi, it was a frequent visitor and was the first jet propelled aircraft
to be used for troop transportation purposes as replacement for the
aging troopships that were being phased out in the late nineteen fifties.
This memorial has been organised by the Changi Village Merchants
Association, supported by the Changi Point/Ubin Sub-Committee and the
Siglap Community Centre. Prior to the start all persons involved were
provided with red jackets, of traditional Chinese design, which were worn
during the proceedings.
Lim Tow Soon, of the Changi Village Merchants Association, made
the opening address and started by welcoming everyone to this event, and
spoke of the happy relationship that had developed, from those far off
days, between the camp and the village through to the present. In my
response I wished every one a Happy Chinese New Year, this being the
year of the Tiger, and said that when I had first arrived at Changi, in
nineteen fifty seven, I never envisaged for one moment that fifty three
years later I would be back to participate in this most memorable
inauguration ceremony, and thanked the associations concerned for their
warm welcome and generosity. I assured the Changi Villagers that the
RAF Changi Association membership still treasured the fond memories of
their times at Changi especially the great evenings spent in the Changi
Milk Bar, Tong Sing’s and the Airfield Restaurant, to mention but a few.
Then the plaque at the foot of the monument was unveiled, by
representatives of the three organisations present, and myself. We were
next entertained to a Lion Dance that is traditionally performed during
the New Year’s celebrations, which were scheduled to finish the following
day. Then we seated ourselves at tables, which had been set out on the
pavement, to be provided with a truly fabulous buffet style meal, which we were unable to do justice to, as I think many of us had eaten at lunch time.
For the finale song sheets were handed out and some robust
renditions of popular songs were belted out, with me leading the way.
Afterwards some of our members present made me promise never to lead
the singing at any future reunions.
On the following Monday five of us returned to Changi Village to
say our goodbyes, as we were all leaving the next day for several
different destinations. We once again said our thanks to the Changi
Villagers for their generosity and told them how much we had all enjoyed
the Saturday’s proceedings and the wonderful atmosphere that had been
present for the whole evening.
Members present on Saturday:-
Michael Ashurst and his partner, both of whom live in Singapore.
Beryl and Tony Parker, who flew down from their home in Penang.
Winnie and Peter Mersh, who flew down from their holiday in Phuket.
Margaret and John Dicks.
On the Saturday morning at our hotel we had been in conversation
with two Australian ladies and told them of that evenings coming event in Changi Village, and were surprised to learn that the late husband of one of them had served as aircrew at RAF Station Tengah, flying in Avro Lincolns. So we invited them to join us, an invitation which they were pleased to accept, their names being Jennifer Campbell Bartels and her sister Karen, thereby bringing our total attendance up to thirteen.
For anyone intending to visit Singapore and Changi, the monument is
located at the south end of the village, outside of what used to be
George’s Photo Shop.
Members of our association, Beryl and Tony Parker.
Members of our association and friends, Anne Moore,
Jennifer Campbell Bartels and her sister Karen, (visitors from Australia),
John Dicks and his wife Margaret, who appears to have run out of puff.
The Lion Dance in progress.
The lion accepting the gift.
Margaret Dicks holding the orange thrown out by the lion.