ROYAL AIR FORCE CHIA KENG SINGAPORE

ROYAL AIR FORCE CHIA KENG SINGAPORE
 
RADIO RECEIVING STATION
   
Later Camp Use. 1979
 
Later Camp Use. 1979.

The date when RAF Chia Keng ceased to function as an RAF base and receiving station is not clear but must have been in the late 1960's. That was the time when the UK were pulling back from bases around the world. I visited the old camp again in 1977 when my family emigrated to new Zealand. We took time out to hire a car and visit the site. It was still as I had left it in 1959 complete with miltary guards at the entrance. They allowed us to tour through the old camp but all we found were dusty, empty, buildings. All the equipment was long gone along with the personnel who had served there. Strolling through each of the buildings brought the memories flooding back. I stood in the main billet trying to conjour up images of old comrades. I stood in my bed space trying to remember in my minds eye the scene in 1958. Burt was to my right. Flash to my left and Brummy larking about opposite. The sound of a record playing and the low hum of the ceiling fans. Even the murmur of a few chaps playing cards. The bustle as others prepared for a trip into the city for the evening. Strolling through the receiving hall and the imaginary sounds of teleprinters clattering out messages. Murmuring voices discussing a frequency change and the sounds of morse code being tapped out in the adjoining room. Moving to the dining room I fully expected to see the bulky figure of our cook, Jack, preparing another meal. All in the imagination of course but adding to the memories whilst looking round. As I left the old camp I realised that the buildings weren't in keeping with a modern city and could soon be pulled down to make way for more people friendly structures. Years later I learnt this was the case. One advantage of my building this web site is the feed back from ex RAF chaps and local Singaporeans who have an interest in such things. It was from one of the latter that I was surprised to learn that the old camp had a new lease of life be it briefly. That came about on the 20th January. 1979. That was the date when it was re-opened by Dr Ahmad Mattar as a home for destitutes. The first picture shows the officials striding down the old camps main road past the main billet on the left. The second picture was taken inside the main billet. In 1958 there were two doors into NCO's rooms where the opening in the wall is. The ceiling fans have gone. Where the roof rafters could be seen in 1958 there is a ceiling in place. All this was a far cry from its earlier use of receiving radio signals from around the world. This new duty was however to be short lived and the camp was finaly closed for good in 1982 making way for new flats. That then was the final and brief duty for RAF Chia Keng. Now the whole area is part of the growing city of Singapore where land is at a premium. The S bend just south of the old camp on the Yio Chu Kang Road are all that is left to recognise from 40 years ago. Even part of that S bend has been sliced through by a new road. This new road does follow the course of the old further on towards Seletar. Just one other place is still the same and that is the Japanese Cemetery.



RAF Chia Keng Site In Relation To Todays Buildings

My thoughts have often drifted back to that old camps position in Singapore. Always wondering if there would be any visible remains to help in fixing it's original position amoungst all the modern buildings. Something I thought would be impossible to determine even if I visited the area again. Not long ago someone told me to have a look at some software called "Google Earth" on the internet. They were praising it's ability to find anywhere on the earth, even individual houses. This I had to see and the thought crossed my mind about looking for the old camp using this system. It was a long shot but worth a try. I was amazed by the clarity of the overhead photo's making it possible to pick out trees and property easily. It took me a while but I was able to locate the Japanese Cemetery and then part of the S bends on the Yio Chu Kang Road. I remembered the camp as being about 100 yards along this road from the bend and on the left. It was a difficult task with nothing about the old camp being in place. However, good fortune smiles on those who try and an aerial photo came into my possession which showed the old camp. Cutting a long story short I was able to locate the camp site using the Japanese cemetery and the S bend still in existance. By studying the location amoungst the modern buildings I noticed that even some of the trees matched up and I thanked the authorities under my breath for their determination to keep Singapore green. The aerial photo here shows the position of the old camp. Pity that the modern swimming pool by the main camp entrance wasn't there in 1958 when I was stationed there. The RAF chaps of those times could have done with that facility.

That concludes the search for the camps location amoungst the new properties now on that site. Should anyone now want to have a look at the site they can do so. Sad to think that they wouldn't see anything from the 1960's camp. Just images in the minds of ex RAF personel who were fortunate enough to have served their time there. I would like to thank those who helped me with information and photographs from when the camp was in use. Also those Singaporeans who took the trouble to go and take modern photo's for me. 


The photographs on the following pages were all taken in the 1958 period from places around RAF Chia Keng. They will give a good idea about the surrounding buildings and property established there at that time. Many of the camps personnel  took time out to explore the surrounding area and to meet up with the local people living there. Fortunately many photographs were taken which now give us all  the chance to see what it was all like. Further photographs can be seen by going to the web site:-  http://www.freewebs.com/gajrevor/



Japanese Cemetery Entrance In 1958


Japanese Cemetery Entrance In 2006





In Memoriam

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Singapore City. 1958

Singapore. 1958

Later Camp Use. 1979

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2012; Derek Lehrle; New Zealand~~~ Webmaster: Ruck Nicholls, California, USA

 

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