Married Quarters

After a couple of days living in a temporary bungalow we were given a much coveted place in camp. It was a two-story house at 58 Stevenson Avenue, an address that I will never forget. It was painted light blue and had wooden louvered windows. Some houses had glass slats but I think that the louvered ones were cooler. We had 2 bedrooms, bathroom and toilet and downstairs there was a kitchen, dining area and living room. The living room led out on to a patio and then the garden. We had a gardener who came twice a week and planted some pretty exotic plants but his main job was keeping the garden tidy.

The furniture in the quarters was standard army issue for tropical places I suppose. We all got the same but I expect officers got better than us which one expected. If things wore out, or got broken one took a trip to the Exchange Stores to get a replacement. Even light bulbs could be replaced which was a bit thick. All this I feel made the army person a little lazy and did not prepare them for life outside the army camps. Life in Aldershot and Lincoln, our previous postings was a little different in that one was not totally dependant on the army for every thing.

We had a part-time Amah and were given an allowance to help to pay for her. Some of the families with children had full time Amah’s and these were very necessary indeed. I don’t think that I would have liked to have done my own house work in that heat and I certainly could not have tackled the washing. She was able to wash, starch and iron Sam’s uniform to the required standard. She did the washing by hand but we had a boiler and a mangle for sheets. .

The houses had a toilet downstairs of the squatting variety especially for the Amahs and any local workers. There was also a room where she could do the washing and "live-in" if necessary. Mine did not want to live in because she had to pay for her brothers schooling but again some of the bigger families had live in ones. They were not very well treated I feel in that they were always there to look after the children and they were on the spot so they had to wash up after the evening meal etc. Some of the children became very spoilt because they were looked after by the Amah’s so they got their own way most of the time.

I tried unsuccessfully to get my carpet changed at the Exchange Store but all they would do was dye it - a hideous shade of green or was it red? I was quite happy with it but the dye did tend to come out. We tarted our houses up with local nick nacks, rattan furniture, and I paid my dress maker to make me new chair covers which really improved the look of the place. Nearly everyone bought sewing boxes in ornately carved camphor wood for some reason. God knows where mine is now. We bought a gramophone as well and 2 Beatles L.P.'s, Rubber Soul and Hard Days Night. An enormous looking Aussie gave me the Beach Boys Pet Sounds which I still have and love.

Advice on getting in to Terendak camp

I advise starting the whole job off more than 6 weeks before you are due to set off on your trip. I would advise 3 months or so because theMalays are notoriously laid back and tomorrow will do. It might also be advisable to find out if there are any public holidays or religious festivals around when you want to go. If we had gone on the Friday instead of the Wednesday then the place would have been deserted because it was a public holiday leading into a long weekend.

The form that you fill in has to go from the High Comm in London to the Min of Defence in KL for the final approval and that will take time. I should also make sure you start asking nicely to be able to take some photos very early on. Lay it on thick with the "back to you childhood/happy times" sort of thing - this will go down well.

Because I had to leave the UK before I got to know anything from KL I decided to start again in Singapore. My daughter had rung the Hig Comm in London and they were still waiting to hear from KL. I rang the High Comm in Singers and made an appoinment to see Major Anwar. It was a short but pleasant interview and I made my request for permission to take photos which he granted and he asked to see our passports and my son's permanent residency pass. He said he would write to Terendak and tell them when I was going.

Decide in good time what day you would actually like to visit the camp. I found this very difficult because I was not at all sure of my movements with a 3 month stop in Singapore as opposed to the usual 3 weeks. If you are only going for a couple of weeks then this will not be a problem and you will be able to guage when you go. The authorities were not really pleased that I changed my visit at the last moment but we had no option with the weather in Thailand being so terrible and wanting to get back to the civilisation of Singers.

Our visit was a very unorganised event once we got there because they were not expecting me and it threw them in to confusion. This was rather nice actually because we got on famously with our guides and there was no standing on ceremony at all. A nice Major came out to shake our hands but he did not know that I was slipping our guides RM50. At least I don't think that he did but you never know. I was actually more than happy to pay because it meant that we were in charge of where we went in effect.

This Page was last updated on 20/07/08