Thomson Road, Mount Pleasant, Caldecott Hill & Bukit Timah - stories



Introduction Training War Prisoner of War Return to Australia


POW | Surrender - 1942 | Singapore - from Feb.1942 | Burma -Thailand Railway | "A" Force | "B" Force | "C" Force | "D" Force | "E" Force | "F" Force | "G" Force | "H" Force | "J" Force | Singapore - from March, 1945 | Surrender - 1945

Arrived ? 1942
Departed ? 1942

1) Yasme Activities, (If You Had a Yasme) - Horse Racing

How many can remember the excitement of the broadcast, the betting, the atmosphere of the "Races"? It was not confined to only one camp. Various camps had their own activities.

“Dutchy" Holland has this listing: P.O.W. Handicap - 1½ Miles - Prize Money - 70 Cents. Run at "B" Bn. Course - Mount Pleasant (Thomson Rd) - 26/6/42 more"

(Source: "Dutchy" Holland, Makan No. 258, Dec, 1980)

2) Chinaman's cure

NX32421 - GEOGHEGAN, Mervyn Ross (Joe), Pte. - BHQ, Cook
NX34400 - ROBERTSON, Stuart Wilkinson, Sgt. - A Company, 8 Platoon
NX70453 - TAYLOR, John Lindsay, Capt. - BHQ, M.O.
NX47865 - WARD, Kevin James, Pte. - A Company, 8 Platoon

"All of us, who were at Mt. Pleasant and Caldecott Hill, while the Shrine job was in progress, will remember that Kevin was one of the worst cases of beri beri, who became incapable of walking and had to be sent back to Changi to the hospital on a stretcher. In a reminiscent mood Kevin has recounted some of his medical treatment.

At Caldecott Hill, Captain Taylor had been trying one thing after another on those coming to his RAP. Red Palm Oil, various mixtures for painting on troublesome spots, so that "flaming onions" often had to be fanned vigorously, but in Kevin's case contact had been made with an old Chinaman, who must have had something to do with herbalists from the nature of the cure. He brought along dried citrus skin, which seemed to have been mandarins, brown sugar, some tincture of opium and pineapple. The instructions were to hollow out the pineapple by taking out the fruit and put all the other items in the centre, using only a few drops of the tincture of opium, put the pineapple into a Billy with a lid and steam it. The inside of the pineapple and the ingredients became a sodden mass, and when it was reduced to that state and allowed to cool, it was to be eaten by Kevin, by taking small cubes, cut off from the whole. Kevin said it was vile tasting stuff and terrible to eat but both Stuart Robertson as his Sergeant, and Joe Geoghegan as the cook saw to it that Kevin took the stuff. Capt. John Taylor examined the ingredients and pronounced them not prejudicial to Kevin's health.

This treatment was commenced just before Kevin went back to Changi; the Chinaman had said something about 14 days and at about that time Kevin started to improve, and eventually was sent north on "H'' Force. However lack of that type of cure caused other troubles so that on return to Changi, with the collection of Ps.O.W. in and around the civil goal block, Col. Bye, who made himself responsible for Kevin's care, saw to it that he was not put inside the concrete building, and helped by putting him on the egg participation roster with the hospital.

(Source: Kevin Ward, Makan No. 231, Dec, 1976)

3) Melbourne Cup Day, 1942

NX19398 - HARDING, Alfred Henry (Alf), Pte. - A Company, 9 Platoon
NX47865 - WARD, Kevin James, Pte. - A Company, 8 Platoon
NX70486 - BOOTH, Edward Holroyd (Baldy or Ward), Capt. - D Company, O/C

I am told that Melbourne Cup Day was celebrated in various ways in different camps, but the Work Party on the "Shrine Job" based in the cottages at Caldecott Hill had the advantage of having Alf Harding with them more"

(Source: Kevin Ward, Makan No. 236, Sept/October, 1977)

4) My little yellow basket

NX36719 - MONTGOMERY, James William (Monty), Pte. - BHQ, Band, Changi Concert Party
NX45594 - ANNAND, Charles (Charlie), L/Sgt. - D Company, 16 Platoon
NX68236 - LUGTON, Stanley James (Stan), Cpl. - BHQ, Band
NX69851 - RYAN, Patrick Leonard (Len), Pte. - BHQ, Band

At the little one-night concert at Caldecott Estate, the vocal trio on stage singing a parody on "My Little Yellow Basket", which went, inter alia: "Tuk - Tukawishi, Tuk - Tukawishi, Yosh - Yoshimatu Harata, Harata, The Little Yellow Baskets You know what I mean." This was followed by raucous laughter and loud clapping by the Yank, and all the non-understanding Japs occupying the first two or three rows of seats.

The first time this was put over was undoubtedly on the second night after our arrival-as P.O.W. at Selarang. Someone had found a tin of oil, and with a bit of string in it, we had some light. Stan Lugton had his trumpet, Monty Montgomery had two sticks and an upturned box, and the remarkable Len Ryan - who could make music out of anything - had nailed a batten to the side of an upturned garbage bin; and a bit of sisal rope from the top of the batten to a hole in the centre of the bin made him a one-string double bass.

A few of us were having a real Jam Session of a Sing Song on the first floor of the Barracks building when we suddenly saw a grinning ape, complete with rifle and bayonet, which he thrust at the light, grunting and indicating that it should be out. A vigorous pointing at watches convinced him that it was O.K., so he stood there listening to our singing; and he fairly roared with delight, and demanded encores, when Charlie Annand said "Little Yellow Basket Len", and we broke into vociferous singing of the ordinary song, but fairly shouting and pointing to the Jap at the appropriate "Little Yellow Bastard" bit, as it came up each time

(Source: Makan No. 196, Jul/Aug, 1971)

5) Twenty first birthdays

NX47498 - GRANT, Thomas Bertram (Tom ), L/Cpl. - C Company, 14 Platoon

Tom, one of the young fellows in the Battalion, had his twenty first birthday on one of the Working Parties on Singapore Island. I asked him which one it was and he has told me that he was working on the "Shrine Job”, but he's not quite sure of the name of where he bedded down for the night.

The Party, as a whole, was somewhat of Brigade strength with a major part of the 2/30th plus a company of odds and sods from Division HQ as a group under Noel Johnston as Commanding Officer. These were first on an Estate known as Mount Pleasant, buildings, housing civilian whites before the War; the Party later moved over to Caldecott Hill near the wireless station.

Another portion of the Party from the Artillery, 2/15, 2/10 and 4th Anti/Tank were in buildings on lower ground in Thompson Road.

"Black Jack" was in command of the whole, occupying one of two cottages with the Japanese guard occupying the adjacent one, and it was the guard there that B.J. had outfitted by Bert Galbraith, as Regimental Tailor, because their ragged uniforms offended his dignity, that he should be a P.O.W. under a guard of what seemed "Rag Tag and Bob Tail" of the Japanese Army.

Tom declares, "The Mt. Pleasant tag is near enough for where we slept, though I have never been quite sure whether that name or Caldecott Estate was the correct one. By a process of association I tend to call the place Caldecott. You will recall a malady which afflicted most of us at that time. It was named according to where you were at the particular time; such as, Changi Balls; Bukit Timah Balls; ice Balls and so on. We referred to it as Caldecott Cods, hence you will understand why I refer to the Caldecott Estate as the place of the Camp. I have never heard it referred to as Mt. Pleasant Balls or Cods etc. I am writing, of course, about what our medical people, who, by their training and knowledge, referred to it as Dermatitis of the scrotum. Those who experienced it will not forget what an uncomfortable condition it was. (On Caldecott Hill, Tom, Capt. John Taylor had his R.A.P. in a garage, situated on a concrete driveway, serving various houses, and I can conjure up a mind picture of vigorous fanning to ease the stinging of whatever mixture it was that John Taylor was trying out, because there was a lot of experimenting to find what might combat the troubles, so that there were various colours of potions applied, and another name I recall was "Flaming Onions". Ed)

Tom continues: "We were not to know at that time but Caldecott Estate was, in my experience, far and away the best camp during my P.O.W. days. Mostly we travelled from there to the shrine job at Bukit Timah. On the day I turned 21, I found myself at the shrine, which atop the hill was probably the highest point on the Island. It. was approached by a length of roadway and then by a flight of concrete stairs, which, I suppose, were quite impressive in their way. My thoughts at the time could be summed up, I suppose, by saying that I wondered, if I might see my next birthday. Such occasions were not celebrated in the way one might expect had circumstances been otherwise.

Most of us would have celebrated four birthdays over there; some might have had five. It was possible that the Burma Railway was the venue for the next. I am not at all sure whether it was at No 1 or No 2 Camp. Indeed conditions were such, that I doubt, if I could have told you off hand what month it was, let alone the date of birthdays or any other anniversary. The wonder of that place was not that so many died but that any one at all survived the place.

My next anniversary was on the 'drome job at Changi and the following one at Johore Bahru; after the Burma Railway experience these places tend to be forgotten. The 'drome is not much mentioned these days, though it was, at that time, a long haul, exposed to the sun all day and every day and tended to take away some of the edge one may have had. In Johore Bahru I was on Xl Tunnelling Party and that was also hard work on the rations of that time.

(Source: Makan No. 236, Sept/Oct, 1977)

6) That your brother?

NX45731 - YOUNG, Lionel Frederick (Darby), Pte. - HQ Company, A/A Platoon

Darby also remembers the night before our original Guards (the Front-Liners) were to leave Caldecott Estate - presumably for places South - immediately-before the Singapore Walkabout: The big Jap, Kijo, buying sweets for all and sundry and walking all over the place with tears streaming down his face in genuine distress at being detached from the Aussies, for whom he had apparently developed a deep affection.

(Source: Darby Young, Makan No. 197, Sep/Oct, 1971)

7) Tuk - Tukawishi

NX45731 - YOUNG, Lionel Frederick (Darby), Pte. - HQ Company, A/A Platoon

Darby also remembers: At the little one-night concert at Caldecott Estate, the vocal trio on stage singing a parody on "My Little Yellow Basket", which went, inter alia:

"Tuk - Tukawishi, Tuk - Tukawishi, Yosh - Yoshimatu Harata, Harata, The Little Yellow Baskets You know what I mean."

This was followed by raucous laughter and loud clapping by the Yank, and all the non-understanding Japs occupying the first two or three rows of seats.

(Source: Darby Young, Makan No. 196, Jul/Aug, 1971)


Last updated 14/10/2014