A Match Made in Singapore

My mother was serving in the British Army, while my father was from the Australian Army. Both of them were posted to Singapore in 1963. Dad met mum and got married. I was born in Singapore in July 1964. We left one or two years later.

My family lived in the married quarters for the British military at 37 Kensington Park Road at Serangoon Gardens. My father passed away in 1974 when I was only 10, and I only came into possession of his old photographs in the past few weeks.  Prior to that I had 1 or 2 photos, but this collection paints a more complete picture of life in Singapore back then. I hope that by sharing the photos, I can make contact with someone who may have known them.

Some of these photos are of my family’s personal collection, others were from the Australian Army PR Branch.

01. My parents John Cunneen and Margaret Cunneen at the married quarters at 37 Kensington Park Road. The year was 1964.

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02. My parents’ marriage was announced in the newspapers.

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03. A British officer conducting an inspection, 1960s.

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04. My dad won a trophy in the Singapore Swimming Championship, 1963.

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05. Going through the communication protocol in the military.

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06. Dad and Qantas PR. Don’t really know the story behind it but I got the plane given to me as a child.

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07. Taking a break in the midst of military training.

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08. I remember meeting this fellow in Australia when I was about 6

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09. Dad attending a friend’s wedding. Perhaps someone reading this may recognise the happy couple?

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10. A photo of the Qantas Australia plane, 1960s.

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11. Australian soldiers taking a ride in a trishaw.

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12. Australian troops posing with the local air stewardesses.

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13. My dad’s greeting card (from Singapore) to grandpa (back in Australia).

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14.  Mum outside the married quarters at 37 Kensington Park Road, 1964.

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15. Artillery training.

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16. A luxury front garden pool at 37 Kensington Park Rd, 1964.

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17. The rugby team. Dad was at bottom row 2nd left.

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18. Dad having a beer at our home at 37 Kensington Park Road.

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19. Dad riding his trusty scooter outside our home.

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20. Mum and Dad sitting outside our home.

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21. Dad chilling out outside our home.

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22. Mum with our amah at our rear garden at 37 kensington Park Road. I remember her name was Zara or Zana.

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23. Dad having a beer at a Chinese friend’s house.

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24. Feeding the monkeys possibly at the Singapore Botanic Garden.

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25. The interior of the married quarters. It was in the midst of a repainting job.

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26. Posing at the Raffles statue outside the Victoria Theatre.

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27. Swimming at the Britannia Club pool.

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28. Dad, Mum and me at the Britannia Club pool.

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29. Dad and Mum having a romantic time together.

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30. Dad with a dog at (possibly) the Tanglin Barracks. The notation on the photo says his bed always gets soaked during the thunderstorms at night. The dog was called “Changi the Chit Chat Chaser” as it chased chit charts up the walls.

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31. Dad at (possibly) the Tanglin Barracks.

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32. Alighting the plane in battle order.

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34. Mum at the Serangoon Gardens Way, 1964.”

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By Peter Cunneen

RemSG: It is a wonderful story shared by Mr Peter Cunneen. It was indeed a match made in Singapore. The valuable photos also give us an idea of an Australian/British family life in Singapore back in the sixties.

Published: 05 June 2014

Updated: 06 June 2014

27 Responses to A Match Made in Singapore

  1. Peter Cunneen says:

    Note to editor. Have sent you a request to amend some of these titles. Regards,

  2. Victor Lee says:

    Thank you for sharing some magical memories, Mr. Cunneen. You are blessed!

  3. Barbara Lake says:

    These are wonderful. I lived in Serangoon Garden Way in 1958. I am sorry you lost your father at such a young age. You are so fortunate to have all the photos – mine (hundreds and hundreds of them) were sadly lost.

  4. Hi Peter, I just now found this. Thanks for sharing. Will share in the group page.

  5. Olwen Halliday says:

    Hi – came across this website by chance and thrilled to see Peter’s photos. My parents and me were in all these places in the late 50s, Serangoon Gardens (Chislehurst Grove), Britannia Swimming Club. Our amah was called Liz – so upset to leave her when dad was posted back to the UK (Royal Air Force). I was only around 6 but have everlasting memories.

  6. Jeffery Abdullah says:

    Mr Cunneen, I hope you are good and well. Your nostalgia stories of your parents are magical. I have learned something about how the life of British & Australian army during those years in Singapore. I feel sad you lost your dad at a very young age. I enjoyed reading your stories.

  7. Thank you for all the kind comments and taking an interest in the photos of my family life in Singapore.

  8. Davina Davies Broster says:

    It is absaloutely wonderful to read about days gone in Singapore I was there with my husband in 1960 stationed at Tengah but living in sembawang hills estate my eldest son was born in the military hospital. I worked in serangoon gardens I managed Allens fish and chip shop, my name then was Davina Davies. I had two Carols working for me there dad’s were in the forces. I have such happy memories of Singapore I have been back and still love it just as much Anyone out there who remembers Allens? .

  9. Matt Stoves says:

    Hi There,
    My name is Matt Stoves, I’m now a disabled 69 year old, but still enjoying life, in Oct 1959 my father was posted to RAF Seletar, we travel by Troopship. SS Oxfordshire, what an absolute joy that was, especially for a 12 year old boy, our Ports of call are stories on their own.
    My father rented a Bungalow in 19 Coniston Grove, Serangoon Gardens, I have vivid recall of fathers pay day events, down we would go to pay the grocery bill at Née Soon Watt’s, father would be given a cold beer and mother and I would have a very cold bottle of Coca Cola or the Fraser’s Orange pop ( I think it was called Fraser’s)
    I returned to Serangoon in 1999 for a very brief visit, my old house still stood as I remembered it, I’ve lost all the Photo’s I had sadly.

    I am returning again in Sept 2016, but I now see on Google Earth, the whole street has been altered, however I am looking forward to visiting.

    We moved after 12 month up to Seletar Hills Estate, then father had to be CASEVAC back to UK due to “Singapore Ear” so our tour was cut from 2 1/2 year to 1 1/2 year. We returned home around May / June 61.

    In November 62 I joined the Royal Navy, upon completion of all my basic training and trade training etc, where was I drafted? Singapore! Hey Hey great delight to me 2 year based in Singapore carrying out our Borneo Patrol Duties. Left there in 66 and returned back there for another 2 1/2 year in 67, my fiancé flew out there in 68 and I was married in St Georges Royal Dockyard Church, Sembawang. My daughter was born in BMH later in the year.

    So I have a very strong affinity with the Island, absolutely love it. Went back in 2010 for 10 days, WOW! The changes to the City, as I’ve already said I shall return in a couple of weeks time and hope to have a thorough look around the Island once more, sadly it does not seem to have caught up with facilities for disabled people getting around on scooters etc, that’s according to reviews I’ve read in various travel books.

    • Geraldine Soh says:

      Hi Matt, if you have a Facebook account, please search “Memories of Serangoon Gardens” and request to be added to the group. Hope to see you there. Thanks.

  10. Benjamin says:

    on 32. photo isn’t that owen smg?

  11. Robin Cowling says:

    My name is Robin Cowling & I was in Singers from 1965 – 1968 with the Royal Marines Band. Whilst there, we were asked by the Singapore Ministry of Education to teach and create School Brass Bands. I enjoyed three glorious years teaching music, part time,( in addition to my normal R M duties) at Tanjong Katong Secondary Boys School. & are so pleased to see how much this Band has achieved over the years . Well done.

  12. Mary Zimmern says:

    My name is Mary(nee Gan) Zimmern. I grew up in Serangoon Gardens Way in the 60s. right across from Dr. Fernandez clinic and Allen’s fish and chips

  13. Benedict says:

    Thanks for this. My grandparents lived at Bridport Avenue, Serangoon Gardens & I used to spend a lot of time there. I remember the places in your photos. I now live in Melbourne.

  14. Mick Walsh says:

    I also lived in Serangoon, 37 Serangoon Gardens Way. My dad was with the RAF at RAF Seletar from 68 to late 70. I have been back to our old house & it’s now all flash (even air con, not wobbly fans). The gharries used to stop out the front of our house (next to the Chinese Dr). We also had an Amah called Lan. This brings back so many good memories & you forgot to mention Nee Soon Wat owned half of Serangoon back then, but a great place to shop compared to the NAAFI anyway. I now live in Melbourne in Australia & stumbled on this great site by typing in Nee Soon Wat.

    • Benedict Vijayan Peter says:

      I was born & bred in Singapore. I moved to Melbourne in 2003. I lived in Sembawang Hills Estate, about 10 minutes from Nee Soon. Every Sunday I used to go to the Nee Soon market with my Dad to buy the week’s groceries – fresh fish & veg usually. My grandparents lived in Serangoon Gardens at 66 Bridport Avenue. I used to spend holidays there & used to go to the Paramount Cinema to watch the latest movies.

    • Geraldine Soh says:

      Hi Mick, if you have a Facebook account, please search “Memories of Serangoon Gardens” and request to be added to the group. Hope to see you there. Thanks.

  15. Martin says:

    What a fantastic set of photographs…so lucky to have so many. Enjoyed reading. Many thanks!! My own father a Brit was in Singapore in the 1950’s.

  16. william ej fathers says:

    it is so nice to read about your parents.
    My Dad was in the Royal Marines, my Mum was in WAAF, they met in Cyprus in 1957, got married, I was born in a British military hospital in 1958, in the early 1960’S he got posted to Singapore, and served aboard HMS Bullwark, an aircraft carrier. It is such a small world, we lived in married quarters in the same street as you, we also had a servant, she was lovely, I went to the Royal navy school near Serangoon, my sister Linda, was born there in 1962, .
    My Dad was Royal Marine William Fathers ( BILL)
    My Mum was Elizabeth ( Betty).
    My Mum and Dad, have passed in the last five years, and I am trying to trace their past.

  17. jimbo siggy says:

    i worked at tanglin signal centre at the same time 63 to 66 so i might have come across your parents

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