Memories of Bill James

Images from Seletar by Bill James

1954 – 1957

My late father Bill ‘Jimmy’ James joined the RAF in 1937 as an apprentice fitter and after service in France supporting the BEF and in North Africa, qualified as a pilot at the end of WWII (then flying Liberators). After service at a number of UK stations including Hawarden, Aldergrove and Colerne, he was posted to Seletar as a pilot (M/Plt) with Base Flight 1954-1957

I remember having armfuls of injections and eventually flying into Changi, (aged 7) aboard an Airwork Hercules on Christmas Eve 1954 with my mother Marjorie and sister Linda to join him. The flight from Blackbushe seemed to take forever with about 6 stops for refueling and an overnight in Karachi.

On the return flight we had engine trouble, made an unscheduled landing at Delhi and spent 6 days in a nice hotel whilst a new engine was flown out from UK and fitted.

We initially lived on Serangoon Garden estate, Chepstow Road I think, before eventually moving to Birdcage Walk on the camp. Travelling on the ‘garry’ onto the camp, the morning only school (but 6 days a week), afternoons spent around the camp pool, with plates of chips, and frozen Mars bars which took about half an hour to eat, Sundays at Changi beach, are all just distant memories now.

Luckily I’ve had reason to travel to Singapore frequently on business over the last few years and spend most of 2004 and 2005 working there with a few visits to Serangoon and the base of course (the old houses are both now knocked down). I still want to play the camp golf course, hopefully next time I’m there.

I was also fortunate to meet John Giddens (see Memory Lane) through business in Singapore. John directed me to the Association membership, and he kindly took me for a flight in a Flying Club aircraft around Seletar with a few ‘touch and goes’, almost exactly 50 yrs since dad would have first flown from the airfield.

Anyway, happy memories, the pictures attached are fairly self explanatory.

We can remember the names of only a few apart from Mike Maturik. Jonah Jones, Peter Linfield and Tom Bowler spring to mind.

Sadly, dad passed away in 2000 but mum is still reasonably fit and well, and into her 81st year.

It would be interesting to see if anybody recognises themselves or others in these photos. We have other pictures which I will have scanned onto disc in the future and send on.
Photo Gallery