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Sandra Chidgey

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My thanks to Sandra Chidgey for these photos and of her memories from her time in Singapore.  Sandra's father was with 66 Sqn at RAF Seletar from 1965 to 1967, and Sandra attended RAF Seletar Infant School.
RAF Seletar swimming pool

Britannia Club swimming pool

Our first bungalow - Crowhurst Drive

Our first bungalow - Crowhurst Drive (we had 3 addresses during our tour)


RAF Seletar infant school  uniform

Photo of me as a young girl wearing the RAF Seletar infant school  uniform - Green and white check summer dress


Standing in Russell Square

Standing in Raffell Square with my mother and brother

Sitting at RAF Seletar, pool cafe

Sitting at RAF Seletar, pool cafe

Maria Chidgey (my mother) with neighbour's children

Maria Chidgey (my mother) with neighbour's children

Maria Chidgey (my mother) buying vegetables at the Serangoon

Maria Chidgey (my mother) buying vegetables at the Serangoon

In our garden with Amah, Suki

In our garden with Amah, Suki

Sandra and Ronnie Chidgey at Tiger Balm Gardens

Sandra and Ronnie Chidgey at Tiger Balm Gardens

Tiger Balm Garden entrance

Tiger Balm Garden entrance

Our family and neighbours arriving to see Mary Poppins at the

Our family and neighbours arriving to see Mary Poppins at the
Serangoon Cinema 1966

My mother at RAF Seletar pool

My mother at RAF Seletar pool

My mother outside Crowhurst Drive

My mother outside Crowhurst Drive - our first bungalow - note the
W - to indicate that it was the Warden's house for the street. My
father was the warden.

Changi Airport.  July 1967 Maria Chidgey and children Sandra, Ron await the return flight back to to the UK.

Changi Airport.  July 1967 Maria Chidgey and children Sandra, Ron await the return flight back to to the UK.


Dressmaker - collecting made to measure dresses at the local dress maker in Serangoon Gardens.

Dressmaker - collecting made to measure dresses at the local dress maker in Serangoon Gardens.


3rd birthday party for Ronnie Chidgey - children from Medway Drive, Serangoon Gardens

3rd birthday party for Ronnie Chidgey - children from Medway Drive, Serangoon Gardens


Sandra Chidgey on plane during return flight home - no flat beds in those days!

Sandra Chidgey on plane during return flight home - no flat beds in those days!

Party group of children who were living in Medway Drive, Serangoon Gardens, 1967

Party group of children who were living in Medway Drive, Serangoon Gardens, 1967 - Sandra Chidgey is wearing pink dress.  It was the birthday of the blond girl in blue dress.


Photograph of ex RAF, 66 sqn, Ronald Chidgey

Photograph of ex RAF, 66 sqn, Ronald Chidgey (off duty) and his "chief" in Changi Bar, Singapore 1965.

These next three photos feature mixed groups at social events in 1965-67.  Each photo features my father, Ronald Chidgey, who was an electronic technician with the RAF and based at RAF Seletar (66 sqd), together with my mum, Maria.

I have no idea who the other people are BUT maybe others may recognised their parents!






Written as a tribute to my Dad, Ron Chidgey, who would have been 75 years old this month.  It is based partly on his time working with the RAF, in Borneo during the mid 1960s.  The story is fiction, but I have weaved in various scenes that are based on the truth!

The new adventure book is called:-

Corporal Ron's Borneo Warrior Rescue

I'm also working on an ipad version that will feature the same story but have more photos/video.

Sales from the books will help raise funds for Help for Heroes as well as Orangutan charities.

Here is the overview on the new book.  Corporal Ron's Warrior Rescue


I remember distinctly....



Sandra (Chidgey) Arthur's Memories of Singapore ­ with input from her

mum, Maria Chidgey!



I lived in Singapore from 1965-67 with my family and father (Ronald A K

Chidgey), who was with the RAF, 66 sqn.   I attended RAF Seletar Infants

school and have  been hunting for old photos on the net.   My brother found

an old box with reel to reel tapes that included messages from my Dad when

he was  working in Borneo and Singapore.  His son hunted on ebay to find old

machines to reply the tapes and eventually extract a copy for playback on

modern DVD/CD roms.    This fuelled my interest to document

our family history, before everything is forgotten (sadly my Dad died

in 2004) so I'm relying on old photos and my Mum's memory.  Once I

have finished my document I will share with interested parties.  I

managed to re-visit Singapore in 2000 and so much had changed!  I was

delighted to find the old bungalow were we had lived in Serangoon

Gardens.  Many had been changed into 2 floor houses, by ours was still

a bungalow.  Sadly I have learnt so much of old Seletar is now being

demolished and changed.  Hopefully for those that have old photos they

will scan and share for many who enjoy looking back at those old

halcyon days!


Sandra  (nee CHIDGEY) Arthur





Towards the end of 1965 my father was asked by his Commander to remain

in Borneo (having had a one year unaccompanied tour) for another 1.5

years.  Luckily he arranged to transfer Dad to Singapore so that the

family could join him.  Dad wrote to Mum to advise of the 'good news'

and left her to make all the arrangements to pack and get the family

(Ronnie aged 2 years and myself nearly 5 years) to Singapore.   Via an

old reel to reel taped message, he passed on the information that each

person could have a 100 lb  (45kg)luggage allowance.  He read out the

list of injections that was required including:  Cholera, smallpox,

Diphtheria  and polio.  And recommended that we did not bring nylon

clothes, as it was too hot and humid ­ cotton would be best!  He

explained the temp was generally in the 80's with humidity levels very

different from the UK and that it was dark at 7pm all days of the

year.  With Dad still in the Borneo jungle, it made for infrequent

communication as he did not know our arrival date (mainly letters and

postcards) but the RAF must have supplied Mum with flight details and

tickets and we arrive in December 1965!


The journey started on a Cunard Eagle Britannia to Singapore ­ 23.5

hour flight that turned out to be a much longer journey.  The outward

bound journey was very turbulent.  Mum recalled that to stop us

children bouncing back and forth in our seats, she was holding us for

most of the trip.  By the end of the journey her arm was bruised black

and blue.  The first stop to re-fill was Istanbul, Turkey ­ back in

the 60's aircraft could not manage long haul.  Due to engine problems

we had to make an unplanned stop at Kuwait.  Here there was an 8 hour

layover as engines were repaired...  We all had to wait in a huge

dirty aircraft hanger with little to no food ­ it was terrible.   The

final stop for another refill took place in Colombo, (Ceylon) ­Sri

Lanka.  Here we kids took the chance to stretch our legs

and run outside to play on some grass.  Some officials quickly advised

Our mother to get the children off the grass, quickly, as there were many

scorpions that could be dangerous.



For the return trip, the re-fills took place in Bombay and Turkey and

Mum recalls the journey being much quicker ­ 15 hours ??.  We also

recall that in Bombay the aircraft was sprayed with an aerosol product

to no doubt kill any unwanted bugs.





Serangoon Garden Estate was situated in the north east of Singapore

and approximately 10 minute drive from Seletar.  Some people were

lucky to find housing in Seletar but the majority stationed at RAF

Seletar lived in and around Serangoon Garden.


This housing estate comprising mainly of detached and semi-detached

bungalows with small gardens, mainly concrete laid gardens framed with

bushes and trees.     The estate was well designed with a good

selection of shops, a pharmacy, banks, clinics, tailors , a sports

club , a post office , hairdressers  and a cinema.  In addition to the

shops there was an open market where you could buy fresh fruit and



Once a week there was an Amah Market ­ where you could buy local crafts.


Our home was in the Serangoon Garden estate where many other military

(Army, Marine, RAF etc) families lived.  All the houses were privately owned

by rented either to the RAF or directly.  It was a leafy green residential

area.  I  recall the large open storm drains that run along most streets.

During one monsoon, one poor lad had fallen in and was drowned.  As a

result, we kids were told to never play in the drains.


As we were living 'off camp' there was always an element of risk or

danger.  As a result, each road had a 'Warden' who was responsible in

the event of any issues.  Our Dad/first address in Crowhurst was designated

the Warden  for our road and I recall the large yellow W sign hanging

on our gate.


At the end of our road there was a long row of shops and it was here

that Mum organised most of her shopping.    At one house we had a

banana tree ­ so very tropical for people coming wintry Britain.  Our

3 bedroom bungalow was nicely decorated with bamboo furniture, glass

tables and ceiling fans in all the rooms.  The master bedroom had air

conditioning and the bathroom had a Turkish toilet ­ free standing and

very difficult for small girls to use!    Mum had to dig out a baby

potty for us children to use as she was scared we would fall into the

toilet hole.  There was a grilled porch-way ­ for security ­ but a

safe place to play with bikes.  Each room had a grill on the window

for ventilation but this also allowed easy access for the chitchat

lizards.  Mum was very scared of these and my brother would hunt them

down with his peddle car and run over their tails.  The tails would break

off and the poor creatures would run away.


Hygiene was very important and all beds had to be changed and washed each

day.  Also furniture had to be sprayed each month to stop insects living



Mum nearly killed herself trying to keep up with the cleaning regime

until she fell ill.  The doctor asked if she had an amah (cleaning

lady) and was told to get one immediately.


Mum recalls that many people hosted Tupperware parties.  It was a good

way for the mother's to get to know one and other and to socialise ­

especially as the men were often sent off on detachment back to Borneo

or Malaya.  Mum had one large cupboards worth of plastic when we

return to the UK!


I should add, placing cereal into sealed Tupperware boxes was

essential ­ Chitchats and other insects managed to find their way into

any open food box.


One of the Amah's taught mum some great Malay dishes and I recall the

wonderful Nasi Goreng dish.  It was my favourite and one that I still

enjoy eating today.



Living in Singapore certainly expanded one's exposure to different

culinary delights (Indian, Chinese, Malay etc)­ something that would

have been very difficult to experience in the early 1960's back in




Another favourite, for us kids,  was Milo.    This was a milk beverage

with chocolate and malt that all kids enjoyed drinking as fresh milk

was hard to find.  On return to the UK, we still asked for Milo ­ a

Nestle product from Australia that was not marketed in the Europe.





As mentioned above, the Serangoon Garden estate was served by a good

range of shops that sold food, clothes, toys, furniture and a range of

household products.      There was also a hairdressers shop.  This

being the mid 1960's the beehive hairdo was in high fashion.  Many

women therefore could have their hair arranged on a daily basis, as it

was very inexpensive.  Mum recalls it was  about 2 shillings to get

your hair washed, styled, and blow-dried.



There was an excellent tailor/dress making shop where you could select

fabric, designs and they would create beautiful clothes.  Mum had a number

of  dresses made for herself and myself and suits for my father.  Also

handmade shoes were also orderable.


The myth for service people arriving in Singapore was buy a camphor

wood chest or you would be destine to have another baby.  These were

beautiful carved wooden chests where you could store your bed sheets

and blankets.  The chests were highly 'perfumed' due to the camphor

wood and gave off a lovely smell when opened.  Mum and Dad decided to

order a chest to ensure no more family additions!


Another interesting purchase was the tricycle with a rear passenger

seat I received for my 5th birthday.  I enjoyed buying Sindy dolls ­

the rage in the mid 1960šs ­ and the chance to buy Sindy like clothes,

straight from China at a fraction of the cost.   It was great fun

riding my trike with my brother has a guest!  I've never seen one since.


I also appreciated the beautiful waxed Chinese umbrellas you could buy to

keep the sun off your head.



A final memory of shopping included going to one of the evening

markets ­ noisy, crowded, birds in cages, strong smells of spices

etc..  It was very crowded and I remember chasing after a man with

black hair (like my father) ­ on pulling his shirt a very elegant

Chinese man turned around. Not my father ­ luckily they were only

behind me but for a few moments I was most scared and the memory has





I was enrolled to go to the RAF Seletar Infants school.  I recall our

uniform was a green and white check cotton summer dress.  I recall

wondering why we kids had to go a RAF school, and that Army children

and Marine families had to go different schools.  I was jealous that

they had Red or blue  and White check dresses, that I would have

preferred to wear!


At only 5 years old I was sent to school on the special RAF bus that

would collect children from our housing estate - very different from my old

London school.


I recall it was a leafy green ride, driving past some kampong

(thatched roof) buildings and plenty of coconut palm trees on route to

school each day.


I recall our class performing a year end production of 'Sing a Song of

Sixpence' and I was one of the blackbirds!


I also believe we were given small cartons of milk, in triangle shaped

boxes, for a drink mid morning ­ as was the custom until the late



I can remember one name from my class, a Harry Winterbottom ­ at

the time I thought it was a funny name and have never forgotten it.


The school building was made out of similar material to the nearby

Kampongs ­ wooden structures with woven palm leaves to form the walls

and ceiling.  There was no glass in the windows, just bamboo blinds

that folded down on a hinge during the classes to keep the class

coolish.  There was also a ceiling fan that used to push around the

warm air.


School started at 7.30 or 8 am and closed at lunchtime as it was too

hot to concentrate in the humid heat to continue to work and study.

The more difficult days were during the monsoon season.  The deafening

sound of rain pounding on the roof, as water splashed against the

wooden blinds.  Outside the tropical lightening and thunder would

shake all the structure.  The playground was turned into a swirling

mess of mud and water until after the storm passed.   After the rain

hit it was like being in a sauna as the steam started to rise from the

damp floor.  My mother used to be so worried for me.  She was

concerned that the fierce rain hitting the road may cause the school

bus to slide and be washed into the monsoon drains






Despite living near the coastline, we only visited the beach a few

times.  A couple of times to Changi Beach ­ not too nice as was quite

polluted at the time.  Also once to San Juan Beach that Mum recalls

was quite nice.  We travelled there by bus ­the bus was full of Indian

people chewing betelnuts.  Mum recalls the smell of curry, sweat and

this betelnut was so bad that by the time we arrived she felt sick!

It was better to take a taxi, but you had to barter for the price

before the journey.


For the service men there were many sport offerings including sailing,

hockey, tennis, cricket, rugby and basketball.  My father was one of the

basketball referees  (in his free time) and was honoured to referee one of

the inter-service world cup matches that took place at Seletar (he also

refereed the Military World cup in Borneo).  I recall sitting in the front

watching the exciting game and clapping and cheering - I wonder if anyone as

any photos of this event in 1966?






A popular place for all service families was to go to the Seletar

swimming pool.  You had to show RAF ID to gain access, so it was a

good place for families to socialise.  I recall going there on some

afternoons with my parents.  I recall my brother was too scared to go

in the pool and preferred to play in the shower foot baths!!





The cinema close to our house was a popular source of entertainment

and I recall going to see Mary Poppins for the second time.  It had

the most elaborate advertising for a film that I have ever seen.







During the last few weeks in Singapore the family made an unusual trip

to the centre of Singapore to experience a Rickshaw ride and to see

the sights that somehow we had missed.  Dad and my brother got in one

and my mother and I rode in another.  The rickshaw driver did not

understand to follow Dad's rickshaw and sped down a different lane.

Despite Mum shouting the driver would not stop ­ so she pulled his

shorts down.  He quickly stopped and all the passers-by laughed!





Average temperature in Singapore ranges are between 24 degrees Celsius

(75 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit)

all year.  NE Monsoon, floods are common while the SW Monsoon usually

brings violent wind squalls called Sumatras.


We rented a car and spent Xmas with my fatheršs cousin who was also with the

RAF and stationed at Changi.  Unfortunately this was the monsoon period and

we  experienced a large storm.   In fact we later learnt this was

unprecedented volume of rain.   The bungalows in Changi were in a rather

low level area and clearly flooding occurred as the drains could not

cope with the huge volume of water.  So my main memory is climbing onto

chairs as the bungalow was flooded with dirty brown water ­ possibly 3

feet in height.  I also recall a water snake arriving into the living

room ­ all the children and women were screaming as the men tried to

carry out people and take them to higher grown, whilst at the same

time trying to kill or at least scare away the snake.





A popular day out was to visit the Tiger Balm Gardens.  This park had

been built by Aw Boon Haw, a businessman who developed the famous

Tiger Balm product.


The park was decorated with statues representing Chinese mythology and

Buddhist Hells.   As a young child, I wonder what all these statutes

represented but still enjoyed looking at them, the fountains and

seeing the REAL monkeys nearby .   It still exists today but has

fallen into disrepair.





For the Chinese new year ­ the regular home delivery trades people would

give  their best customer's children hong bao  - a red envelope with a

Singapore dollar bills inside.  I remember keeping the lucky red

envelope for a long time!


The friendly Chinese "linen man" (who made door to door

deliveries) would also say - Gong hei fat choi ­ meaning

Congratulations and be prosperous ­ a greeting during the Chinese new

year ­ the only Chinese we learnt sadly.   I also recall he lion and

dragon dances that took place in Jan/February to celebrate the new year and

the fire crackers and fireworks set off in the street - now banned in

Singapore since 1972.


Around the same time is the Thaipusam festival.  A Tamil Hindu

celebration that is quite unique.  Male devotees meditate and whilst

in a trance like state are able to pierce their bodies with hooks and

metal rods ­ feeling no pain and no sign of blood.  This amazing

procession features men carrying elaborate metal apparatuses and

structures around their body ­ rods, poles all pierced into the skin ­

not for the faint hearted!   Female devotees would usually just carry

a pot of milk on their head and join the procession.   The procession

starts from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and

proceeds to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.




A very happy time.




Would love to hear from anyone who lived there and may have known our





Warm Regards




Sandra (nee CHIDGEY) Arthur


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