in the Officers' Mess in Taiping.
I presented a pair of my books to the Officers' Mess
Cyril also presented a book to the Officers' Mess
I signed the Visitors' Book
The internet, certainly, has more good than bad. A couple of days ago - March 26, 2009 to be exact, I met a Singaporean whom I had befriended over the internet. Well, really, it was he who had got us acquainted.
Cyril Gabriel is a retired senior Singapore Police Officer. Although he was with the Police, in his own words, he said he is "a military buff". His keen interests are on the history of pre-Independence Federation Regiment, Federation Armoured Regiment and The Royal Malay Regiment. He reads and collects books, visits places related to these units. He also collects cap badges, insignias and medals of the pre-Independence forces of Malaya and Singapore.
How did I get to know him? Well, in his relentless searches, he was introduced to 7th Rangers blog administered by Major (Retired) David Swami Gwekanandam. One thing led to another and he came to my blog to purchase a pair of my books. That started him to make a plan to visit Taiping where I reside, in particular, Camp Town Barrack which is currently occupied by 9th Royal Rangers. This camp was used by the Gurkhas and other British units and some pre-Independence Federation units.
After a week of planning and coordinating, Cyril and his wife Daphne finally arrived at about 1030 a.m. on March 26, 2009. A vehicle from 9th Rangers was dispatched to pick them up at the town bus terminal. I did not know what went wrong but he missed the vehicle. Or could the vehicle had gone to the other bus terminal in Kamunting? Anyway, a friend of his, sent him and wife over to 9th Rangers Officers Mess where we met the officers.
It happened to be their tea break and we joined in. Cyril and I exchanged momentos. I presented the Officers Mess with my books and likewise Cyril also gave a book.
After the tea break, we were taken for a drive through the camp. It was a walk down memory lane for me too, as I was there from 1969 to 1978. Indeed, it held a thousand nostalgic memories of my young and early life in the Army, in particular in 3rd Rangers.
The camp had gone through a lot of transformations. Most of the old wooden barracks have been demolished and new modern concrete barracks and offices have taken over their places. As we drove around the old football field that doubled up as a parade ground in those days, I noticed the "Dewan" have been torn down. A new one is coming up.
Some parts of the camp are however, still the same old wooden buildings built by the British Army. For me though, I didn't see the old and discoloured walls. I saw only the vivid memories of the time I was here in the 60s and 70s. I wish I could relive that part of my life again but we know history only come once in our life time.
All too soon, our guided tour was over. We parted ways at the Officers Mess. I headed for my Kembara and home. Cyril and wife were sent to the bus station by the unit vehicle.
Thank you 9 Rangers for the warm hospitality and the tour of the camp. You really have enlivened my somewhat monotonous life as a pensioner and an old man.