Singapore - 3 Telecommunications

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  The Unit's first involvement in Singapore commenced on the 12th of April 1958, when a party of 17 members, led by  FLTLT L. C. Stratford, departed Pearce by DAKOTA flying via Port Hedland and Derby.  After a two night layover, the party departed Darwin at 0830 on the 14th bound for Changi. Means of travel for this leg was by HASTINGS aircraft.  On arrival at Changi/ the party .was met by a SQNLDR Baker from HQ F.E.A.F. who informed FLTLT Stratford of the transport, meals and accommodation arrangements.  The men were to be quartered and fed by .the RAF at Seletar Maintenance Base which boasted facilities such as numerous tennis and squash courts, cricket and football (soccer) pitches, a golf course and clubhouse, two cinemas, a photographic club, yacht club, NAAFI facilities, a general and technical library, salt water swimming pool (filled from the Straits of Johore) and various
other social clubs.

  Private transport, taxis, buses and a well established shopping centre were located just outside the base main gates.

  On the operational side, the work site at Chai Keng (CK2)was located some four mile from Seletar.  Transport to and from work was supplied by the RAF in the form of a VANGUARD ute.  The cost of this service was rather prohibitive at 18/- (shillings) per hour, plus 3d (pence) per mile.

  CK2 was under the operational control of a Colonel J. E.C. Banham of the Foreign Office (U.K.) and his deputy a Mr R.Saunders.  The station comprised Australian Army and RAAF personnel and Admiralty and Foreign Office civilians.

   There were four shifts working an eight day cycle of two evenings, two mornings and two night shifts with two days stand-down.  One shift would actually work a fortnight of days. before going into the 2x2x2 cycle.  Hours of operation for each shift were 1300-2200, 0730-1300 and 2200-0730LT.

  No. l(B) Squadron (RAAF), based at Tengah, was responsible for the admin, pay and accounting of the detachment at Seletar. Upon the Squadron's withdrawal back to Australia, RAAF Butterworth assumed responsibility for the detachment on the 10th of June 1958.

  With a change of command came the problem of how to pay the men.  It was proposed that the new method of payment for each member would be to have his pay credited to an individual's bank account at the Chartered Bank.  Withdrawals were restrict-ed to four a month.  This system worked satisfactorily, although the bank felt they were only being used to carry out pay parades for the Aussies.  Because of this unrest, arrangements to have the RAF act as paying agents was initiated,

  On the llth of July, GPCAPT Pither and WGCDR Prosser arrived to hold discussions on the future of the detachment. During discussions, it was revealed that the detachment would remain for a further 90 days at the expiry of which an ann-ouncement would be made concerning its future.  Those members who didn't wish to remain would be repatriated back to Australia.  From a detachment of 19,  only two elected repatriation.
    In a further signal from Department of Air (DEFAIR) on the 9th of September, advice was given that the detachment would remain in Singapore on a permanent basis.  The same signal once again gave the members the option of remaining in Singapore or returning to Australia.  Some members agreed to remain on if granted leave back in Australia.  The basis for this suggestion was due to the short notice given to the men on their initial departure overseas, and the fact that the attachment was to have been of only 3 to 6 months duration. On the 17th of September, a negative reply was received from DEFAIR which resulted in only 3 members wishing to remain on a permanent basis - FLTLT Stratford, SGT Stapleton and LAC Desborough.  

  Postings to and from Singapore continued until the detach-ments subsequent closure at 1630 on the 25th of June 1963.

  It wasn't until April 1971 that Unit postings to Singapore recommenced with the posting of FLTLT Les McLean (Det Cmdr), FLGOFF lan Nalder (ENGRAD), WOFF Gordon Apperiey, CPLs Blue High, Gerry Kidson, Vic Johnson, Skid Skardon, Mick Lowe, PeterJackson, LAC's Geoff O'Hara, Graeme James, Bob Moore, Tom Plaistead, Peter Andrew, and Ross Hunt, with Neil Johnson following two months later.  SGT Ken Parish was already in Singapore.

  Members were posted to RAAF Support Unit Tengah Detachment'A' (RAAFSUTG'A'), for duty with 121 Signals Squadron of 9 Signals Regiment (ARA), which in turn was part of the ANZUK Force. The whole theme of the operation was integration.  The Australian Army was the prime management agency for the three Australian services, although each had their own single service back-up.

  The detachment was administered by RAAF personnel based at Tengah Air Base (RAAFSUTG), with the parent base being Base Squadron Butterworth.  Tengah also offered limited ā€˜Lā€™ Group facilities as well as being responsible for ground continuation training and administering promotion exams.  As transport was limited, trips to Tengah were usually on a weekly basis.

  Accommodation for the single unaccompanied members was at HMS TERROR (an RN base) which also served as the Headquarters for ANZUK Force personnel.  Single members were placed initially in transit quarters, nothing startling except for the fact that they were converted horse stables used during WWII.  One of the outer walls comprised a four foot brick wall, topped with a hitching rail, with the remainder canvas awning.  This served as "home" until they were moved to 'H' Block some nine weeks after their arrival.  A much more satisfactory arrangement.

  Married members were supplied with fully furnished housing in Serangoon Gardens,  Seletar Hills Estate, Seletar Air Base, Woodlands, Changi, Wessex and Sussex Estates.  These members needed only to arrive with personal clothing as all linen,blankets, cutlery, crockery etc. was supplied.  Luxury items such as TV and radio were still the member's responsibility. Depending upon luck, or the size of the family, the style of quarter was either bungalow, semi-detached or terraced.

  The work site was still located at CK2,  but was soon to move to a much larger complex located at Kranji on the Western side of the Island.  The British were scaling down their presence in Singapore as the ANZUK Force grew in size and thus the much larger site became available.  This new site was to become known as KR2.  KR2 was manned by 121 Signals Squadron, under the command of a MAJOR.  The army strength of '121' was round 140 members; supplemented by about 20 RAAF and 12 RAN personnel, 4 U.K. and 6 New Zealand civilians, giving a total strength of around 180 personnel.

  A four shift system was maintained along the same line as the one in operation at CK2 .

  Extra duties fell about once a month and consisted of a duty operator, whose duty was to scrub and polish the Ops  room and office floors, and a duty NCO (CPL) whose prime responsibility was that of a watchman within the confines of KR2. This type of duty occurred every second night.  Every other night the duty was allocated to a SNCO who carried out both internal and external night watchman duties.

  Hot cooked meals were available on a coupon payment basis. Members were required to purchase books of coupons of various values from the administration cell as cash was not handled at the canteen, or bar for that matter.  Single members had to place a claim for meals consumed and paid for under this system.

  Recreational facilities on the Unit were a swimming pool, tennis court, soccer cum cricket pitch and bar facilities. The officers and SNCOs shared one bar and were able to purchase both beer and spirits while the adjoining 0/Rs bar only sold beer.  The verandah partitioning which separated both bars often became a "black market" bar for spirits.  All drinks were duty free.

  Like all units, 121 Signal Squadron boasted a fine sport-ing record, being represented by their own basketball, cricket and football teams.  Volleyball was another of the more successful unit teams.  There were many individuals, competing under the squadron name, successful at such sporting events as golf, athletics, badminton, swimming and ten-pin bowling.

  Unfortunately paradise does not last forever.  Due to some 'unwanted' publicity, the Singapore Government requested the closure of KR2 and the withdrawal of 121 Signals Squadron. The last of the RAAF element were repatriated on the 28th of February 1974.

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