Thomas 'Bing' Crosbie's memories and photos of Singapore

My name is Thomas (Bing) Crosbie and I served in the Royal Marines for twenty three years. I spent five out of the last ten years in The Admiral's Printing Office in the Naval Base Dockyard. The last couple of years there we lived at 1108 Sembawang Road, which was in the middle of a small group of R.N. married hirings. We had the use of the Admiral's section of the beach to swim in private too. Prior to that we lived in various places such as Serangoon Gardens etc. The son who brought this site to my attention spent his pre school days in Singapore during 1967/68/69 having been born in 1965. My daughter was born in Singapore on Chinese New Years Eve in 1969, just before we returned to the U.K. I was discharged in 1970. My oldest lad Steven, born in Liverpool in 1957 went to the naval school, as depicted in your photograph collection. I have looked to see if I can spot him in any of the photo's but all to no avail. However I have got some photo's of him in my collection, which I will forward to you in due course. It makes me feel old to realise he is now fifty years old. I have enjoyed looking through the photo's of HMS Terror and they bring back memories galore. On the way back from a visit to Australia in November 1993 we stopped for a few days in Singapore and I was amazed at the changes to the place. HMS Terror seemed to be a drug rehabilitation unit. There were police types marching young offenders around the square. Do you remember the way the bar in the Armada club used to cope with all the drinking when the fleet was in? There used to be a gang of barmen lined up with a (Petrol type) kind of pump in each hand. About twenty pumps all told and all the pint glasses were lined up on the bar top. They would flood the glasses with draught Tiger beer, and the overflow went into scuppers on the edges of the bar to drain away. The speed of service was amazing and many a thirsty matelot/bootneck/Yank/Aussie or New Zealander would have their thirst quenched in minutes. I'm very surprised that there don't seem to be any photo's of them performing that ritual. Mind you not many of us had cameras in those days. Now we all have a digi cam in our pocket. We also used to host a few Yanks when one of their ships was in for R & R. We supplied all the booze and they supplied all the steaks etc. Damn good arrangement too. I used to obtain the duty free booze from an RFA Captain that I knew, for doing all his printing jobs free. Then smuggle them out of the Dockyard and out of the Naval Base, to my house across the road from the little back gate by the Admirals House. Yes there was a dockyard Policeman on duty there too. God knows how I never got caught. When I went back to Singers in 1993, there as bold as brass outside the Raffles Hotel, was one of the Sikh policemen who used to man that little gate. So I went up and introduced myself to him and explained where I remembered him from. " Oh! No sir, not me... That was my father" was his reply. We had a good laugh and a yarn but found his father had since died. I also tried to find the Amah we had for both commissions out there. I knew her name as Alice Ong, and had numerous details about her. But without her Identity Card number couldn't find her. The area where she used to live had been obliterated of course, otherwise I could have gone straight to her house. Shame! My wife and her were like sisters, but we had lost touch after coming out of the forces and moving from one pub to another. (I was a pub manager).


HMS Ceylon's RM Detachment in HMS Terror 1952. Crosbie 5th from the rear left of Drill Sgt.


HMS Ceylon RM's Cup Winners 1953.


HMS Ceylon RM's Captain Neil Campbell accepts the Trophy, Singapore 1953.


HMS Ceylon's RM's Cup Winning Team 1953.


Family, Dad Knows It All, Rubber Tapping in S'pore 1963.


Laura and Steven deciding what to buy.


S'pore, 1108 Sembawang Rd.


S'pore,Steven returns from school,1963.


S'pore, Laura, Botanic Gardens, 1963.


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