RAF Seletar’s silent secret?
If, in the late 1950’s, you were to leave RAF Seletar and drive through Jalan Kayu to the Yio Chu Kang Road and turn right at the little post office on the corner, you would have probably been going on a mail run or some other official trip to either the RN base at Sembawang or much further afield to RAF Tengah.
After about 2 miles, on your left you would have passed a small Army camp, home to 237 Signals Squadron (Comcan) Royal Signals. This would have been passed by with scant interest. This small compact camp was set up to administer the needs of the signallers who maintained the COMCAN radio receivers for Singapore.
The powerful receivers housed in a secure building within a compound received signals from London, Nairobi, Melbourne and Hong Kong by means of SSB (Single sideband) & CFS (Carrier frequency) transmissions. The messages were then sent by land line to GHQ Tanglin for dissemination throughout Singapore or onwards via the high powered transmitters at Chin Bee (After the events described below, Chin Bee came under RAF Jurong’s care)
This unit was separate from the RAF’s signal set-up on Singapore. RAF Chia Keng was the receiver station which sent signals received to FEAF at RAF Changi and was administered from there. RAF Jurong was the transmitting station and although part of the Changi-Chia Keng link, was administered by the nearest RAF camp, Tengah.
But things changed in 1968. Amoy Quee was chosen to be the place where SCAT (Satellite Communications Antenna Tracker) equipment was used to receive secure direct voice communications for all three services. This was achieved via a Skynet satellite in orbit, and replaced the existing HF comms networks that served the RN, Army & RAF.
To this end, No.1003 (SU) RAF was formed at RAF Amoy Quee in May 1968. The camp was to be administered by RAF Seletar for its short existence. My connection with this forgotten bit of the empire was that on arrival at RAF Seletar in June 1968, I was promptly sent off down the road to Amoy Quee for a short stay until PMC at Innsworth realised they had another camp on their hands and decided to send some permanent staff there. Now I’m afraid some details of that detachment some 49 years ago are rather sketchy, but I remember a cosy little camp, run with little hassle and had a somewhat laid back daily routine. The RAFP presence there of course was to provide control and entry at the receiver hall where all the secret gubbins was housed. This was in a secure compound a few hundred yards down a track away from the domestic site and had a nice little guardroom/piquet post. I remember a few white coated civvies milling around along with RAF radio trades and aerial riggers. All hush hush of course.
In 1971 with the withdrawal of British Forces in the Far East, RAF Amoy Quee was handed over to the RAN (Royal Australian Navy). Sadly I have been unable to find any photographic images of RAF Amoy Quee, but due to an excellent Royal Signals site, have some found photos from 1958. These photos give a flavour of this little gem of a camp, and the buildings will be familiar to any Far East veteran. I have spoken to many people who have served in Singapore and it seems that Amoy Quee has certainly snuck under the radar and remained an unknown bit of the RAF’s history on Singapore and of course the RAFP connection along with it.
I have contacted the Air Historical Branch re a station crest, but they have no knowledge of any badge ever being registered, nor do they have any files on the camp.
There is a reference to No.1003 (SU) RAF Amoy Quee in the Public Records office at Kew in the Air Ministry files and if anyone has access to the records then the reference is AIR29/3909.
Anyone who has returned to Singapore since their time there will know that the island has undergone a drastic change. No longer are there kampongs, jungle and numbered tracks, small towns have sprung up joined by expressways and one such has possibly engulfed RAF Amoy Quee. The township of Ang Mo Kio now sprawls across the jungle area where Amoy Quee was but………..right in the middle of this residential area there exists the HQ of Singapore’s National Cadet Corps. This is called Amoy Quee camp and a comparison with some old road maps and aerial views make me think that this area was RAF Amoy Quee? Don’t suppose the guardroom is still there!!