Singapore Engineer Squardon RE

I joined Singapore Engineer Squadron RE in September 1969 and was with them until September 1970. The unit was a typical Field Squadron about 120 strong but was manned predominately by local Singaporean personnel of Malay, Chinese, and Tamil origin, and there were a small number of British personnel including the following (from memory):

OC - I believe the last OC was Major Wright
2IC ?
QM - Major Teeling
Troop Officer: Capt Maurice Cregan
Clerk of Works: Mike Eastman(?)
Military Plant Foreman: Barry Bowring(?)
Chief Clerk
Orderly Room Cpl: Alan Egerton who handed over to John Green in September 1970

The squadron was disbanded when FARELF in Singapore closed down in 1971/72, and some of the local servicemen were given the opportunity to transfer to the Singapore government forces.

Until closedown the unit was only ever known as Singapore Engineer Squadron RE, and was based at Gillman Barracks. I do not recollect Engineer Base Installation ever having been in the title.


I arrived in April 1956 off the troopship Empire Orwell. Served mainly as a clerk in Regimental Pay Office, but also on many occasions as tally clerk checking forces equipment coming off commercial shipping, this was specially exciting when unloading ammunition etc which was always done in a remote location well away from the normal docking areas and always by lighter, we were often on board ships for 24 hours or more. It was also noticeable that even 11 or 12 years after the end of WW2, personel on Japanese ships never went ashore. The CO of the time I was there, April 1956 - September 1957, was Colonel Nichols or maybe Nicholson, he was also captain of the RE Singapore cricket team. As a member of this team we had amongst other fixtures, matches against RE Malaya in Kuala Lumpar. During the train journey up country to KL, NCO's and OR's on board, had to stand guard at each end of every coach'
There was certainly 2 other RE detachments at gillman, 1 was CRE cannot remember the other, but we all used the same mess and Naafi, There was also a Regiment of RE Singapore made up of local Malays, Chinese and Indian personel, these had there own mess. Also the Royal Military Police had their barracks in a different part of the camp, who of course had their own mess and Naafi facilities, but they also shared our swimming pool. We were often grateful to some of them giving us the nod, of when and from which end they were going to raid Boogie St that night. The pool was also available to service personel families. Also on site were the main schools for all British Forces children in Singapore, each morning many buses from all over the island would arrive, then in the early afternoon would return to pick-up contingent to return them back to where they had come from. A very important establishment of the time, just across the road from the camp was the Tiger Brewery, which as most squaddies knew, once you got used to the effects of it, was quite a pleasant drink.
One of several good mates during my time at Gillman was Corporal Jim Lyons, who was in the transport movement office, which was also responsible amongst other duties was arranging for repatriation to the UK on completion of Service. Jim who was a Scotsman from Crainlarich, would often have spaces available on other transport than troopships, such as he got me a berth on the Chusan a cruise ship returning from Hong Kong via Singapore to the UK. Unfortunately it had engine trouble whilst in Hong Kong, and has I had a fear of flying he quickly had to get me on the Empire Fowey to be sure I got back to Barton Stacey before my 2 years was up.