Pioneer navy volunteers share their exploits

Pioneer navy volunteers share their exploits
A rare book titled Naval Reservists In Action-World War II (Far East) and Confrontation (1963-66).

SINGAPORE- From fighting off Japanese invaders to taking on a booby-trapped ship, a new book provides a rare insight into the exploits of the volunteer group that was the precursor of Singapore's navy.

Titled Naval Reservists In Action-World War II (Far East) and Confrontation (1963-66), the 209-page book tracks the history of the group since its formation in 1934 through stories from those who were in it.

They included then Lieutenant Lim Jit Cheow. In 1965, the patrol boat he was on fired and blew off an intruder vessel containing a large cache of explosives near St John's Lighthouse.

Had he gone onto the vessel to do a search as officer-in-charge of the boarding party, the "booby trap would have triggered an explosion and blown up in my face".

He wrote: "I had learnt an important lesson from the night's engagement, and that was to be swift and decisive when dealing with the enemy."

The volunteer group at its 1934 inception was first known as the Straits Settlements Naval Volunteer Reserve - part of the British Royal Navy. Over the years, the force evolved, seeing action with the regulars through World War II, before becoming the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force in 1966.

The volunteers last saw active war service between 1962 and 1966, during a period known as Confrontation, in which political and armed opposition in Indonesia were against the formation of Malaysia.

This force was the precursor of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) formally established in May 1967, according to the book launched this month.

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