Intro to Tiger

Nik Collett
In the beginning - February 1968. 

Having survived Ashford and been lucky enough to get a FARELF posting first time out, I spent Christmas 1967 and early 1968 variously 'pressing' NAAFI snooker tables, guarding the barrier (as if someone would really steal it!) and on general dogsbody jobs in Depot before that final pre-posting leave.

Having spent 14 days with a (sometimes) tearful Mother and a jealous Father (also a long service soldier but he never made it to the Far East - not in peacetime anyway!} my 'adventure' began.  For reasons known only to Depot it was apparently necessary that I travel from London to Ashford to collect a rail warrant to take me to Swindon . . . . via London! Ho Hum! So I dutifully reported to Depot on 13 Feb, thankfully not a Friday . . .

All was not lost however, I had the chance to savour the attentions of those fine young nurses from Hothfield at the NAAFI Valentines Disco on Wednesday 14 Feb! It's amazing how positive thinking kicks in when you know you're leaving the country in 24 hours - for 3 years!

Thursday 15 Feb - Recovering from the 'medical attention' I received, Ashford to Swindon to Brize Norton was standard fare broken only by the odd bit of fun navigating my travelling companion (Jock Cathcart) through the underground...not a 'seasoned' traveller our Jock! At Brize, spared the overnight in Crab-Air transit, we just sat around playing 'on the bus - off the bus' for hours until late in the day . . . . joy of joys . . . . a 707 was declared fit to fly.

All I recall of the flight, apart from landing briefly on Gan (now there's a posting, 100 light years from anywhere and staffed by RAF) is soggy sandwiches, weak orange juice and an irritating child sitting in front of me. I must confess the landing in Changi and onwards journey to 8 Company are equally vague other than I have the distinct memory of driving at warp speed through a sauna!

I arrived at 8 Company, that strange compound of wriggly-tin, late in the afternoon. It was Friday . . . . the bar was open . . . . my first weekend in Singapore had begun!

I was duly briefed on the requirement to maintain high liquid levels in this tropical climate and assured that Tiger (rather than Anchor) was the way to go! I will refrain from listing those responsible for my 'education' - you all kown who you are - but Friday led neatly into Saturday, which apart from a brief tour of the area and a dip in Kent Road pool, followed the 'maintenance of liquids programme' begun on Friday - indeed so did Sunday!

During the weekend, Raffles, Collier Quay, the Brit Club all featured, as did Bugis Street and a number of other establishments with names ranging from the 'Tiger Bar' to 'Madam Susies'. It also included my first "Dawn Watching" session and only 24 hours in-country!

Monday 18 February saw my formal 'Welcome to FARELF'. Taken to the 'Hacienda' in less than sparkling form and marched in by Mick Courage, I was greeted in what I can only describe as the most 'fatherly way' by Lt Col Peter Goss. Outlining the opportunities in front of me, the potential to experience new things and start my career in the Corps in fine style, we talked about me, 28 Bde (my posting), sport, at this stage there was a slight lull in the conversation when I revealed that I was not a 'football' but a 'rugby' type, and all manner of things.

Then came the warnings......I was sombrely told that the Far East, although a wonderful tour, held many hidden traps for young men like me - alcohol and local females being among those most dangerous!

So here it began for me - that fine Corps skill of identifying threats, gathering the information and intelligence, formulating the assessment and then briefing it 48 hours too late!!!!

Later that day I boarded the train bound for Malaya and my future in 9 Coy . . . but that's another chapter.