Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Secrets of Sime Road

Are you into history? Does HIS-STORY (That is what I used to call history) bore you? Below is a short story I wrote. The story is inspired by one of the tours organised by the brownies, named as Battlefield Tour by Jon Cooper. The story incorporated part of the trail I experienced. If you do read it, tell me your thoughts. 

"Dad, can I not go to SICC?" yawned Ben.

It was one of the mornings, Ben was going with his family to Singapore Island Country Club. His father, Mr Low is a businessman, a member of the Club, often invites his business associates to the Club for a game of golf. Initially, Ben enjoy visiting the place as it is vast and full of greenery. There are so many things to engage in. He used to love playing in the play room but now he had outgrown it. Occasionally, he plays bowling with his father or swims with his mother. But really, both are not his passion. If possible, he would rather not go to the Club. He would rather watch shows on television.

"No, your uncle and his family are meeting us there. Shawn would be there too!" replied Dad.

Ben dashed up to dress himself upon hearing Shawn's name. He is his favorite cousin. Shawn, two years older than him, is regarded as a smart and sensible young lad. He has a young sister, Emily , who is nine years old.

Mr Low drove the family to the Singapore Island Country Club located at Sime Road. Ben recognised the place as soon as he saw Chinese tombs located on the left of Sime Road. A large, flat golf field appeared on the right.

As Mr Low drove into the carpark of the Country Club, they saw Shawn and his family alighting from their car.

" Hey, bro! A game of golf?" Ben's father called out.

The men left for the golf game while the women and the children went to swim. For Ben, swimming with Shawn and Emily is totally a different thing from swimming with mommy. After an hour of fun, the women and children bathed and decided to have breakfast at a nearby cafe.

" How's Ben doing?" asked Shawn's mom. The smell of bacon, sausages and omelettes filled the air.

"Well, still the same. I had enrolled to Berries. I hope that would improve his Chinese proficiency. Oh yeah! Shawn will be having his PSLE this year isn't it?"

Conversations such as these bored Ben. He decided to gobbled down his breakfast and probably excused himself from the scene.

"Shawn, shall we go exploring the place after this? We are too old for Playroom." whispered Ben into the ear of Shawn.

Maybe he was not soft enough for Emily heard him. "I wanna go too!" Startled, Ben glanced at the women but they were deep in their conversations.

"I guess it should be ok. Let's just ask our moms later." replied Shawn.

"Gor, I wanna go too!" insisted Emily.

"OK. We'll include you in." said Shawn, patting his sister's head fondly.

After breakfast, Shawn sought permission and promised to take care of the rest of the children. They wandered around the compound.

"Shall we explore outside? I know there is a pillbox just outside SICC !" exclaimed Shawn.

"Pillbox? What's that?" asked Emily and Ben in unison.

"Remember Labrador Park? Daddy brought us there to take a look at mangroves. We stumbled upon one of the pillboxes at the playground?" replied Shawn.

"Isn't that a machine gun post?" enquired Emily.

"It's the same thing. You'll see what I meant when we explore. " said Shawn excitedly, walking faster towards the entrance.

The pillbox is near the security barrier of the Club with a plague in front of it. Shawn approached the plaque excitedly. He is very interested in history ever since he explored the Labrador battery with his father. Ben went straight into the pillbox while Emily cried in dismay that she did not want to go in. Shawn pacified her and led her inside the pillbox.

"Bang! Bang! Bang! So this is what it is like to be a soldier in the past guarding here. This pillbox is rather spacious." Ben was already pretending to shoot using his invisible machine gun.

"Shall we go back now?" asked Emily.

"I believe there are more World War 2 relics here, just like Labrador. I am interested to seek them out. Are you?" replied Shawn. Ben agreed enthusiastically. Realising she was the odd one out, Emily agreed reluctantly.

The children started exploring down the road. Although there was not much traffic , Shawn had the common sense to remind the children to walk on the side of the road and keeping an eye on the traffic.

" Oh! Look at those Black and White houses! " Emily started to appreciate the beauty of the place. Many are marked "Private Property". Further down the road, the children spied some monkeys. They were wandering on the field but quickly scattered away when the children approached.

"Monkeys! Did you see that?" exclaimed Ben. He enjoys being on an adventure with Shawn.

"I thought they appear only in the zoo!" laughed Emily.

Suddenly, Emily squealed in delight, "Flowers!" and dashed in the direction of a row of garden arches which were overgrown with vines. There were plenty of brightly coloured orange and purple flowers at the side of the arches. Shawn and Ben chased after her. She stopped right in front of the arches and started to admire, her eyes wide with excitement. " This is really my kind of Secret Garden!" and danced a little dance. She took a step and started to walk through the arches wondering what is beyond that.

The garden at Sime Road
When I post on my personal facebook account, I was asked where it was from.
"Wooooahh!!!" a unison of voices broke out behind the children.
"What a lovely sight!"

Emily stopped at her trail and turned around to see what was the commotion. Ben and Shawn were looking around too. There was a group of people came filing in led by a Caucasian. The Caucasian paused under the very arches the children were standing under. He looked very friendly and smiled warmly at the children.

"Hi! I am surprised you are here. Do you live here?" The three children shook their heads."Well, you shouldn't loiter into the compound. This is a private property." The children glanced at one another nervously.

The Caucasian turned around to his group and started to talk. "This is the garden of the Green House. As you walk along the road, what features are old?"


"Black and white houses!"

"Golf Course"

came the answers.

"Well done! The graves at the entrance of Sime Road belong to the Seh Ong Clan. They existed a long time ago. Most of these black and white houses do not exist pre-war but their platform does. The British armed forces built their command centre in a hurry but before the houses were up, the Japanese had occupied Singapore. The area turned into a POW camp and attap huts were built on these concrete platform. These were tore down after the war. Black and White bungalows were built in replacement. The golf course was around then. It was where the Japanese tank battalion rushes up Sime Road, crossing Lornie Road and headed for Temple in Bukit Brown cemetery. Imagine they were riding in their tanks, moving down Sime Road but saw some 'pillars' ahead which were actually to be the tombstones of the cemetery. Their tanks could overturn any time they hit the grave stones. Hence. they may have to abandon their tanks near the entrance of Sime Road and charge towards Bukit Brown cemetery. "

Shawn's eyes brightens up. He realised what this means. They were in the in midst of a World War II trail!

"What is old about this area?" asked the Caucasian. Someone pointed towards the back, beyond the arches. "Yes, " replied the Caucasian. "That is a platform, It looked like a bunker. However there are no obvious signs of entry or ventilation. Let's head further down to the Green House."

Shawn was interested to take a closer look at platform but he wanted to have a look at the Green House too. In the end, they followed the Caucasian and the group. Soon, the children realised that they are walking back towards the entrance of SICC. The Caucasian stopped near where the children had spotted the monkeys.

"This house is the Green House" said the Caucasian.

"but it is not green." someone commented.

"It was green. In fact, it was being repainted with a coat of white paint. The reason this house was known as the Green House was because it was built for Air Marshall Sir Robert Brooke-Popham and had to be inconspicuous, but was soon taken over for administration purposes. So, all those famously bad military decisions were made here at Sime Road, not at the Battle Box at Fort Canning as some people tend to think! This Green house become the Japanese Headquarters during the Occupation.”

"Gor, I am getting hungry. Shall we go back?" asked Emily. Ben nodded. Shawn looked at his watch, it was closed to half past 11. "Yes, let's get back before our parents worries about us." They hurriedly left the group and returned back to SICC. Their fathers had returned from their golf games.

"You have been out for quite some time, didn't you? We are starting to worry about you." Shawn's mother said, looking sternly at Shawn.

"Yes, Mom. I am sorry that we got you worried. We were caught up with a WW2 trail. They were saying this place was a historical WW2 site, do you know that? Daddy, could you enroll us to WW2 trail?" asked Shawn.

"Yes, "agreed Ben. " I like pillboxes now."

"There is a beautiful garden at the Green House. It's a Japanese Headquater, " said Emily, dreamily.

The parents looked at one another quizzingly. "Sure," said Shawn's daddy smilingly. "I didn't know this is a WW2 site. I guess we should enrich ourselves with such information."

Linking with~

image-in-ingnew button

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...