Friday, August 17, 2012

The Silent Guitars: RAF Changi Connection Part IX

Allan Thompson's Pingat Jasa Malaysia
The guitars were silent during armed security patrols. Allan Thompson who served at RAF Changi in the 60s and played bass guitar with a pop group during his free time explained how he could have "contributed to the peace and prosperity of the region" while on official duty.

Dear Andy,
I like the Lee Kuan Yew article. He certainly works hard and did so much to make Singapore an independent and highly efficient nation. Thanks again.

I realise that the military service and medals have no place on your blog, but I only mentioned them as an indication of the enduring love and respect I have for Singapore and Malaysia.

I fell in love with the people, the food, the climate (after acclimatisation), the history, the young ladies whose company and families made me feel so much at home. I certainly wasn't a war hero, although several others were, especially the young Ghurka who won the Victoria Cross.

I arrived in Singapore in late July, 1963, just before the creation of the Federation of Malaysia and I remember all the excitement of those times, and the opposition from Indonesia. My only practical contribution to the new nation's defence was doing occasional armed security patrols on Changi Airfield, a two-week detachment to RAF Kuching in Sarawak, and two weeks of coast-watching duties at Pulau Pisang lighthouse in November 1964 after the Indonesians had carried out landings along the coast of Malaysia.
Changi Airfield, Singapore 60s.
At the time we were just doing our duty because it was what we were paid to do, but in 2007 the Malaysian government did us all the great honour of awarding us the Pingat Jasa Malaysia for supporting them at a vital stage in their history. I think that meant more to us veterans than the General Service Medal which we received from our own government for serving in that campaign.
I think it brought home to us the fact that we had actually been involved in something worthwhile which contributed to the peace and prosperity of the region.

Pulau Pisang Lighthouse, Melaka Straits
That was the view of the Malaysian government in the citation which accompanied the award and I feel honoured to have received it.

Best wishes,

(Comment anyone? Were you involved? Tell us)

For more of Allan's experience in Singapore 60s click 'Allan Thompson RAF' under Labels below.
Image 1 and article: Allan Thompson Collection (All Rights Reserved).
Image 2: Andy Lim Collection.  Image 3: dewssTv  Image 4: Google.


Pitch Feather | Alberta said...

Hi Andy,

Nice to have you visit our website.

We are working hard towards our dream, love will keep us alive. ☺

How was Singapore’s music scene like back in the days? I don’t know many 60s local band, but I really enjoyed The Crescendos’ cover of 'Silver Threads & Golden Needles'.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you for visiting again.

Regarding your question, you need to read this blog to learn about Singapore's music scene in the 60s.

Crescendos was only one of the earlier groups to hit the charts. There were many others as they included bands from the British Forces as well.

Allan Thompson's article highlights his own official duty at the RAF when he was not with his own guitar group. This blog also discusses music influence from other countries.

You Tube dewssTV dated Apr 9, 2009 said...

Changi RAF Airbase was part of the military outpost of the British who pulled out completely in 1970.

The entire British Military presence was 20% of the island's GDP at that time.


The EP (image 2) featuring the 'Jumping Jewels' consists of popular folk songs from the ASEAN region and are a combination of Malaysian and Indonesian melodies.

WARNING said...



Did I write all that? It sounds better than my usual stuff! A few years ago I would have shyed away from such self-promotion but now I'm older (but not much wiser) I remember that many young men failed to return from the East and I wear my medals on Remembrance Day in November to respect their memory.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Allan,
thanks for reply. It's not self promotion but nostalgia which is great for the soul. Or 'labels' whatever.

Without the blog I wouldn't have known you and the lot of friends I have met in the past 3 years.

Besides it's the 21st Century and our world has changed much. The amount of self promotional materials on the Net just goes to show the trend today.


When I was at Kuching in mid-1965, the Singapore Guards were doing a spell of duty there and I used to spend a little time in their club, chatting to them and drinking their Tiger Beer when it ran out in the RAF club.

There was spirit of cooperation because it was their Malaysia (although Singapore left the Federation later that year, in August) and we were all pulling together.

I also recall a late night encounter with the Singapore Vigilante Corps at the Marine Parade after midnight one night when my young lady and I were taking the air. She was wearing a lightweight jacket of mine because she felt chilly in the sea breeze and I was being gallant.

Suddenly, two figures emerged from the darkness and shone their torches at us. I saw their VC armbands and relaxed because at first we had thought they might be trying to rob us. (Unlikely, because Singaporeans were always so law-abiding in my experience).

They asked to see our ID cards and when they saw I was a serviceman, they smiled and shook my hand, telling us to be careful at that time of night. Very courteous.

That's all for now.
Best wishes, Allan.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Again thank you Allan for your contribution to this blog.

I have totally forgotten about the Vigilante Corps until you mentioned it in your story.

Goes to show how much we can truly remember our stories from the past.