singapore

Ex-servicemen bid fond farewell to Guillemard Camp

SINGAPORE – As the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR) from 1987 to 1989, Mr Lee Wai Mun has many fond and proud memories of his time at Guillemard Camp.

Being close to the old National Stadium, the camp’s location has always made it an important holding ground for rehearsals, he said.

“We are very proud to say that we were the first to introduce dynamic audience participation for the NDP,” recounted Mr Lee, now 62 and the chief executive of the Automobile Association of Singapore.

That was in 1989. Mr Lee said he and his servicemen placed placards on selected seats at the stadium, so that when audience members raised the placards, the words “Welcome, Mr President” would be spelt out to welcome then President Wee Kim Wee.

On Saturday (Jan 22), Mr Lee was back at his old camp grounds on a visit organised by the Ministry of Defence for ex-servicemen to bid the camp compound a final farewell before demolition.

The land Guillemard Camp sits on will be returned back to the state for redevelopment.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s 2019 master plan, the plot is gazetted for residential use with a gross plot ratio of 3.5.

In 2003, after 34 years, the battalion vacated the camp and relocated to Mandai Hill Camp.

But that was not the end of the Guillemard Camp story. From April to July 2020, the vacant camp was converted into a Covid-19 community recovery facility for migrant workers.

The SAF set up accommodation tents in the open spaces of the camp as well as facilities like dining areas and portable toilets.

The Army Medical Services were also on hand to ensure patients were provided with basic medical care.

Guillemard Camp’s erstwhile occupants have tales to tell of the memories they forged as they honed their soldiering skills and served the Republic.

Mr Lee, who retired from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 1997 as assistant chief of the general staff (logistics),holds dear another memory of a spontaneous act of kindness among his servicemen.

That was in 1989, when the battalion hosted at the camp members of the Malaysian Armed Forces during the inaugural edition of Exercise Semangat Bersatu, a bilateral exercise with their Malaysian counterparts.

“I was glad (to see)… my soldiers stepped up without us having to dictate and insist and took out their Malaysian counterparts as friends in the evenings to show them Geylang and the market not too far away.”

Mr Lee also noted that the camp was a fixture amid a residential neighbourhood that has evolved over time.

And Mr Wahab Hussain, 74, who was regimental sergeantmajor of 1 SIR from 1983 to 1987, can attest to that.

Said the jewellery design instructor: “Every time we had a commanding officer’s night (a recreational event for servicemen) or an open house, we’d invite our (civilian) neighbours… and they were very pleased with us.”

“Actually, we kept them really, really safe as the camp guards were prowling around the camp perimeter, next to them,” he added with a chuckle.

Ex-servicemen bid fond farewell to Guillemard Camp Source link Ex-servicemen bid fond farewell to Guillemard Camp

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