MALAYAN EMERGENCY had its origins in the late 1920s when a small group of Chinese-based Communists sought to overthrow the British colonial administration and establish a Communist-controlled republic. Ironically, when Japan invaded the Peninsula in 1941, the British supported the Communists in a joint campaign against the Japanese. But once the war was over, the battle for Malaya re-started and became a costly thorn in the side of Britain for a further dozen years, while the sun of the British Raj slowly set east of India forever.
So, when our speaker at our Society evening on 13 January 2000, the Rev.William Goble and his wife Grace arrived in Singapore in 1954, they were immediately confronted by the conflicting emotions of a multi-cultured people who were still immersed in a political and military struggle. This influenced and guided Bill in his missionary and teaching work as house parent, padre and administrator of an expatriate prep-school for missionary children in the Cameron Highlands near a British army school. Bill was also elevated to the post of honorary, unpaid army padre for many of the British units that did their duties close by from time to time.
The shameful surrender of Singapore and the infamous railway of death from Thailand into Burma still haunted its survivors, as well as soldiers and civil servants who served in Malaya in 1954. Just two years before the war in Korea had come to an end, with the terrorist skirmishes beginning.
It was against this backdrop that our speaker painted a unique as well as most interesting canvas of remembrances about happenings and people, down-to-earth and eccentric. Interspersing his presentation with poetry readings and anecdotes, he kept the audience entertained with descriptions of days long past of a sometimes quasi-colonial lifestyle. He mentioned the names of the Cameron Highlands and Bangkok, where he was made Chairman of the Chaplancy Board and, besides other duties, helped the American soldiers serving in Vietnam to heal and overcome their psychological and physical wounds. With his portrait of the dangerous but also beautiful jungle in all its myriad manifestations some of our older listeners could only but agree. It was especially the bamboo that captured Grace and Bill's fancy, so much so that they named their house in Cape Town Singing Bamboo, because they could never forget the sound of the bamboo groves clashing noisily in the monsoon winds.
Bill and his wife remembered their life during those colourful if often painful fourteen years with fondness, and since they were fluent in Thai and had a smattering of Malay, made friends among the locals.
Maj Anthony Gordon, who had served in Malaya at the same time, was able to add to Bill's chronicle with a few stories of his own, and also brought with him his old accoutrement used over there, with the smell of mud and grass still adhering to it. It was a most enjoyable evening, and members now look forward with great interest to a further episode in the Far East travels of the padre.
10 February 2000
9 March 2000
13 April 2000
NEW BOOKLISTS FROM: Johan v.d.Berg (tel. 939 7923) and Rodney Constantine (tel. 61 3980) are now available. Anyone who would like to receive further information please phone direct.
John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167