Name: T.A. Jones, Through Magazine
Unit: Signals 8th Australian Division
My impressions are confined to Singapore, which place struck me as the most curious one could ever hope to visit. Even when steaming into the harbour one can form a good idea of Singapore, a mixture of Ultimo and Rose Bay to those of us who are Sydneysiders. It was beautiful on one side and on the other lay miserable hovels. Visiting Singapore itself merely strengthened the first impression. When ones sees such fine buildings as the Cathay, "Raffles," and the Singapore Airport Hotel, and then wanders into Chinatown, or even only just off the main streets the contrast is apt to leave him gasping.
Fortunately I had time to study the people in whom lies the secret of this contrast. We shall not, here, consider the better class or those who come frequently into contact with white people. Study the mixture of black, brown and yellow and neglect not the various shades of each. A total disregard to cleanliness is so marked that one often wonders whether lack of hygiene is the country's greatest crime. Many a time when I heard someone say, "Do you notice how the smell is becoming less offensive?" I shuddered, marvelled and prayed that I would not be one of these.
Even though Singapore on the surface, has little to commend it, most will agree that a day spent poking into its numerous shops produces some compensation at least for that stage which has long passed, mainly one of crying the heavens for vengeance. However one feels one is hauled into a shop, not invited in, and all manner of successful bargaining, in which one forces the prices down by many dollars, can never give that feeling which invariably accompanies one at these successful bargain hunts at David Jones at their Big Winter Sales.
I feel sure, however, that whatever our feelings may be it can always be said of us that the "so called tourists of Malaya were, if nothing else, the most popular troops who ever sweated, toiled, and swore amidst the mosquitoes, rubber and swamps of this coveted land.
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