Name: E.A. Nichols, Through Magazine
Date: 1941
Unit: Signals 8th Australian Division
Location: Singapore

I leaned from the rails of the ship, as she pulled alongside the wharf my attention was arrested by the multitude of coloured labour employed on these wharves.

My sentiments were momentarily confused in a mixture of contempt and pity. Any cleanliness of the body they may enjoy is hidden by the pigment of the skin. Their working clothes were ragged and dirty.. Their jaws worked in a perpetual motion of chewing, followed by an occasional burst of bright red spittle, emitted with absolute disregard of the discomfort this caused to spectators gathered to view and welcome the first contingent of the A.I.F. to Malaya.

Passing from this scene, my curiosity whetted by so strange a contrast to that of my homeland, I wended my way to Singapore, to be amused and initiated in the bizarre atmosphere of its shopping centre. Chinese richsha pullers, grinning, gesticulating babbling in their native tongue importuned me, hounding and obstructing my uncertain progress through the densely crowded thoroughfares. Snake charmers, pedlars, fortune tellers and street entertainers, all clamouring with hungry persistency, wore down my "sales resistance" and my capital.

E.A. Nichols

Published in the first edition of Through, the official journal of Signals 8th Australian Division in Singapore, December 1941.

The material for this article was supplied by Mrs E.A. Quick of South Australia

Last updated: 3 June 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Singapore, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 25 September 2020,
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