On 7 July 2008 George Town & Melaka were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List
"Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca (Malaysia) have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia". The official statement from UNESCO.

From Anthony Catherall
With Sqn 1959-1962



The black and white photograph above was taken in May 1960. I along with many sapper colleagues sailed from Singapore on the Landing Craft Tank, Empire Gannett, arriving at these very docks after a 4 day min-cruise in May 1960. This photo therefore has special memories for all of us. We were very lucky individuals to experience such a trip 54 years ago as very young men.
11 Independent Field Squadron spent six months at Kota Belud 40 miles north of Jesselton, widening parts of the only main road to Jesselton, building and airstrip, (still there) and operating a Light Assault Floating Bridge motorized ferry across the River Tempasuk at Kota Belud.
My colour photograph above was taken when I visited Kota Kinabalu with Allan Mills in May 2006. I visited Kota Kinabalu again in 2008 and took a trip over to Manukan Island by launch with John Flynn and Frank Sowerby. We spent a day on Manukan Island’s golden beach, barbequing and swimming in the very warm crystal clear coral filled waters, an idyllic memory.
If you ever get the chance to visit Kota Kinabalu, make sure you too visit the Park.
Below with courtesy of Wikipedia is some history and details of the magnificent park.
Anthony Catherall December 2014.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park comprises a group of 5 islands located between 3 to 8 km off Kota Kinabalu. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two-thirds of which cover the sea. Before the Ice age, it formed part of the Crocker Range mass of sandstone and sedimentary rock on the mainland. However, about one million years ago, the melting ice brought about changes in the sea level and parts of the mainland were cut off by the sea to form the islands of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik dan Pulau Sulug. Evidence of this can be seen from the exposed sandstone of the coastline forming the cliffs, caves, honeycombs and deep crevices. The park was named after Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first Prime Minister.
Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal in downtown Kota Kinabalu is the ferry terminal for those heading to the islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik dan Pulau Sulug). This ferry terminal is also the departure point for patrons staying at either Manukan Island Resort, Gayana Resort or Bunga Raya Resort.
Pulau Gaya
Gaya island derived its name from the Bajau word "Gayo" which means big and occupies an area of 15 km² (3,700 acres) with an elevation of up to 300 metres. Several ridges rise more than 600 feet (180 m), peaking at 1,000 feet (300 m), along the backbone of Pulau Gaya.
Gaya Island is the largest island in the park, closest to downtown Kota Kinabalu (KK) and is covered with dense virgin, tropical forest. It has been a forest reserve since 1923. The island has 20 km of hiking trails and two 5 star resorts named Gayana Eco Resort, home to the Marine Ecology Research Centre, and Bunga Raya Island Resort on the north-east part of the island.
Another resort is being constructed on what used to be Hornbill Bay near Gayana Eco Resort.
Gaya Island is also host to a very large (and growing) stilt village located just opposite the KK waterfront. This village is occupied by illegal immigrants from the Philippines and is considered a dangerous, high crime or "no-go" area by the police and KK locals.
Sabah Parks, the body charged with protecting the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, is headquartered on the south-eastern part of Gaya Island in a bay shared with the Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures dive station. A development on the edge of Gaya island nearest to Sapi Island is also used by Sabah Parks and offers a small, quiet beach for public recreational use.
Gaya Island is also known for a legendary beach at Police Bay. The 400 metres (0.25-mile) stretch of white sand gently slopes out to the sea and makes Police Beach ideal for swimming in the crystal clear water. Police Beach fronts the up market Bunga Raya Island Resort.
The coral reefs along the entire coast of Gaya island are in excellent condition, making it a surprisingly good diving destination, considering its proximity to Kota Kinabalu city.
Pulau Manukan
The second largest island in the park, Manukan is the most popular with Kota Kinabalu residents. Manukan has some good stretches of beaches on the southern coastline. The best beach is on the eastern tip of the island. Offshore of Manukan are coral reefs, which is ideal for snorkeling, diving and swimming.
Out of 5 islands, Manukan features the most developed tourist facilities that include 20 units of chalets, a clubhouse, and few restaurants and a diving centre. Recreation facilities include a swimming pool, football field, Volleyball and Sepak Takraw courts. Infrastructural facilities include support-water, electricity, desalination plant, sewerage system, and even a solar public telephone. It is covered in dense vegetation and has hiking trails.
Pulau Mamutik
The 15 acres (6.1 ha) island makes Mamutik the smallest of the park. Despite being the smallest, the island offers some good beaches and coral reefs. It also has a jetty, a 3-bedroom rest house for rent, and staff quarters for Rangers station. Facilities include changing rooms, toilets, picnic shelters, tables and barbecue pits. Fresh water and electricity are available. Mamutik would be an ideal venue to get away from it all. The corals to the north-eastern tip of the island are quite interesting. The beach is rocky and swimmers must be careful of sea urchins that exist in large numbers beside the corals and rocks.
Pulau Sapi
Pulau Sapi, literally known as "Cow Island" in Malay is just off the south-western tip of Pulau Gaya. The 25-acre (10 ha) island features one of the nicest beaches in the park and most popular with tourists for snorkeling and scuba diving. Between 10am and 4pm the island gets quite busy with foreign tourists but after the last ferry leaves it becomes a tranquil island with only those staying overnight. It is developed with tourist facilities that include a jetty, picnic shelters, barbecue pits, tables, changing rooms and toilets. The forest is inhabited by macaques. Camping and campfires are allowed with the permission from the Park Warden.

Pulau Sulug
Sulug is the farthest island of them all. Considered relatively untouched, remote and undeveloped, the 20-acre (8.1 ha) island is more popular with foreign tourists who prefer a quiet and tranquil atmosphere. Good reef patches lie along the southern end of the island.
During formation, a long sand spit jutting out into the ocean formed a round hill.
In 1882, the British North Borneo Company set up a trading settlement on Pulau Gaya called Jesselton. The settlement was later moved to the mainland. In 1968, Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu.

In 1974, the major part of Pulau Gaya and Pulau Sapi was gazetted as Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, covering an area of 8,990 acres (36.4 km2). In 1979, the park was increased to 12,185 acres (49.31 km2) with the inclusion of the three nearby islands of Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug.

Friday, 2 October, 2009
Kota Belud Jalan Sayap bridges not built and delayed

When the Sabah DAP mobile service team visited Kota Belud town last week, they were brought by some locals here to see the few old Bailey bridges which are supposed to be reconstructed into permanent reinforced concrete bridges connecting the Jalan Sayap to the various kampongs here. According to the few project sign boards stating the name of the project, the start date stated is 18.03.2009 and completion date is 18.11.2010, to date the project has not started, we can only see some site preparation work been carried out.
The present condition of the old Bailey bridges is poor, and the timber decks are broken up. The steel frame and the structural members are already showing the sign of wear and tear. These Bailey had to be repaired regularly by the kampong folks on the timber decks before the smaller vehicles can pass.
DAP asked on why the new bridges contracts were awarded, and yet there is no positive sign of work starting, and what is the reason for the long delay to commence the work? How can the government let the contractor be so slow in their performance of their work? Whether the government is supervising them, or rather this is some political projects that make them no worry about contract delay penalties? May be the Kadaminan Assemblyman Herbert Timbon can assist and enlighten us on the above queries.

Sabah DAP Local government and Housing bureau chief Edward Ewol Mujie and Infra structure Bureau chief John Lee Kim Seng inspected the said bridges together with the Kota Belud folks, and found out their complaints are valid. The bridges are really in the worst condition, with timber deck loosen and broken. The whole bridge looks as if it is going to collapse.

Sabah DAP urges the government to immediately expedite to get the work started, and build us the three new bridges for safety sack in Jalan Sayap.

Edward and John.

Pic: Edward and John inspecting the Bailey bridge at Jalan Sayap, Kota Belud.


Forty-six years separate these two photographs. Pictured top are sappers of 11 Independent Field Squadron RE, building the Bailey bridge over the River Tempasuk at Jalan Sayap, Kota Belud, North Borneo (Now Sabah), under Major Peter Campbell in 1961-2

Pictured bottom, are former sappers Brian Marshall & Frank Sowerby, who walk towards me on the same bridge with two of our Malaysian soldier escorts from Paradise Camp on 18 May 2008.

Following refreshments with our Malaysian military host, Major Mohd Zandi bin Mohamad, his soldier’s drove us about three miles up-river passing the grass covered airstrip that we also constructed on the squadrons first visit in 1960.
The 360 ft long Bailey bridge was opened in November 1962 by Sir William Goode, the Governor of North Borneo.

Anthony Catherall December 2014.

By Anthony Catherall

My picture above circa 1960 of the Boston Bar.                     

A postcard of the Boston Bar and Penang Road north-west similar area.
Boston Bar in Georgetown indicated at point of arrow. 
The ferry terminal is situated in red, between figures 8 & 9


                                          My photographs of the Boston Bar and Penang Road taken on 27 May 2006.

The Boston Bar was situated towards the southern end of Penang Road at the junction of Burmah Road and Maxwell Road (to the right in the photographs, and below the arrow on the map). We are looking NNW in all the photographs along Jalan(road) Penang that eventually meets with Lebuh(avenue) Farquhar, very close to the coast near the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
Today the new ‘Komtar Tower’ is to the right behind us as we look at the lower photographs, I captured on 27 May 2006. On my next visit in 2008, John Flynn and I went by lift to the tower restaurant. Here we squeezed our now larger frames into an old trishaw that is on display there.
 As we observe these photographs, they show a rather ugly spider leg pedestrian covered walkway over the road junction, with one of the four legs exiting right in front of the derelict bar.

Many of us however, will be very familiar with the top two photographs, almost iconic in the history of Penang’s buildings and much photographed over the years.
Soldiers and Airmen had favourite and diverse venues to meet up at the commencement of their evening forays.

During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Boston Bar, was one of the more popular venues, especially for me and many other ex-soldiers alive today.
The steps up to the bar itself were quite steep and many minor accidents occurred on them. I recall an entrance either side, certainly on the left-hand side. My good friend Allan Mills pointed out to me, an old unpainted dilapidated padlocked door entrance that we all used to pass through.

The bar then a friendly, lively focal meeting point for us young men of 11 Independent Field Squadron. The views south-west over parts of Penang were good through the large windows of the bar. We never knew then in the early sixties, that we were soon to be re-located in 1962, south to Terendak camp in Malacca, a totally different world to our beloved island.
 The bar seemed busy always and popular for us all to gather together for a few beers. Meeting local attractive friends, was indeed often was a pre-cursor to staying on the island overnight. Up early and catching the first ferry of the morning at 05:45 hrs back to Butterworth.
As Allan and myself stood there and looked up at a unique Penang building, now just a former shell of an exuberant and exciting venue, just how many stories could it tell.  Pausing a moment to reflect I thought, this now sad structure, was really quite large part of our lives.

Copyright Anthony Catherall January 2015


By Anthony E. Catherall


click on part 1 and part 2 to read
A great story.


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By Anthony Catherall




Fact and Fiction

Anthony Catherall

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By Anthony Catherall

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  1. Hi All
    Please consider leaving your comments on these articles, so we can decide if they are being enjoyed by you all.

  2. The following comments left on FaceBook about article on Train.

    James Jones RCT
    Remember the journey well got my left arm sun burnt.

    Pete Marsden RE
    I travelled on the "Singapore Express" will never forget it....hehe

    John Jackett RAMC
    I think we got off and walked along side it at one point , on the way to Seremban.

    David Buckingham RCT
    Thanks for this Hank, some truly wonderful memories of arriving at Tampin and travelling to Terendak across tracks over paddy fields, then going back to Tampin several times over the years on ration runs when goods trains came in.

    Nigel Woodger RAF
    One of the lads, on the site I run for Air Defence Operators, is a model railway enthusiast and has just completed a Malay Railway scene with one of the little armoured trains. I have given him the nod to get on here to read this very enjoyable account.

    James Hopgood RE
    Think I have mentioned it before, that I travelled on the train twice during 1956-9, once on leave to Sandycrot Leave Centre in Penang and once as part of the Armed Guard Party on the train (standing on the platform between the carriages). Was we scared, you be.t

    Gordon Ried ?
    While I was in K/L one of the Armed Guards fell between the carriages and died /

  3. Alistair Wade RS
    That brought back some memories Hank. I travelled via train from Seremban to Penang on the over-night trains (with an armed escort) as a courier carrying the new cipher codes which were sent from RHQ (Gurkhas) to the outlying Communication Centres each month in the late '60's. It was indeed a leisurely trip, stops of 30-50 minutes at stations was not uncommon as we waited for the down-trains to clear each single line section that lay ahead of us. The station platforms swarming with local vendors offering fresh food and drinks, even during the early hours of the morning.
    I would recommend the journey to anyone interested in an adventure, it is not the most comfortable ride, but you meet so many people along the way. Be warned though, never buy the train ticket in Singapore. The price is quoted in Dollars and is the same price in Singapore Dollars as Malay Dollars but there is a vast difference in the currency values. If going North, cross the causeway by bus or taxi and buy the train ticket at Johore Bahru station - you will save a lot of money!

    Stephen Lawrence RS
    I did the trip from Singapore to Prai and then to Penang for R & R. That was over night to KL and then all day to Prai. The rturn journey also done overnight for the first stage to KL and over night to Singapore. In 1998 my wife and I returned but flew everywhere. I have a photo of the armoured railcar at Ipoh in 1967.

  4. More comments from Face Book about Trains Malaya.

    John Knowles RAMC
    Did it from S' pore to Tampin in 1963 then from S' pore to KL in 2007.

    Paul Strobridge RE
    I can just remember the train joourney from Singers to Tampin, I just Got of my 24 Hour flight (British Eagle Prop), about 6am local time went too Nee Soon Transit, got my travel docs, and was rushed off to the railway station for the 8-30am train, to say the least I was quite knackered, Oh I Revelled in being in hot cramped condition Enjoyed every minute of Journey, although I think I was asleep for most part. I arrived in Tampin, as usual no one knew I was going to arrive, I finally arrived at Terendak (11 Indep Fld Sqn Lines) Coutesy of the camps MPs, Ifinally got settled in, and as they say the rest is history, I would not have missed the journey for anything it as a great experience,

    Dave Miltree
    Travelled from Singapore to Bangkok in1968 took 42

    Derek Taylor
    First travelled on it in 1968 on my way to the Cameron highlands with 30 Sqn GTR, changed at KL for Tapah Road. Again in 1968 on posting from Neesoon to 2 Inf Wksp at Terendak. Have travelled on it twice in the last 10 years from Singapore to KL and it hasn't changed all that much. The railway station is the same as it was, still belongs to Malaysia despite attempts to buy it by Singapore. Really cheap to travel on it despite the fact that it costs double the fare from Singapore to KL than the other way round.

    Andrew Marshall
    1964 Nee Soon to Terendak & the beer they served was *!@* warm.

  5. More.

    CT Chin L E P
    Really enjoyed reading the article - brings back memories of our time travelling up and down the country on the train. Well before 1959 the steam driven locomotives were burning coke/coal for fuel. Normally at the end of the journey one can sometimes be covered with black soot and if you are not careful in sticking your head out of the windows you can have cinders blown into your eyes.

    Lincoln Ivor Neil Chenneour RE
    Many wonderful memories of this railway system.
    Sadly Singapore station has gone along with the section from Sungai Kolok to Kota Bahru and the line from HatYai to Songkhla.
    One of the Civilian Surveyors instructors in RSME, Jock Oliver, was involved with the survey from Gemas to Kota Bahru and told me many stories of the “project”
    As we now know the tracks never reached Kota Bahru but ended in Tumpat across the Sungai (River) Kelantan. This line became known as the Jungle line and for some of its course followed the river but unfortunately ended up on the wrong side to reach Kota Bahru but the line was able to reach Thailand via the Sin City of S. Kolok to re-join the west coast line at the other Sin City of HatYai.
    On the sixties trips the restaurant cars were run by the Chinese who had a marvellous system of supplying anything you ordered. When stopped at a station they would phone ahead to the next station to arrange your request. And when I say anything I mean anything…..good food, good drinks and delightful indulgence in”salacious” doings. Sadly, when the Malaya took over the catering the catering catered for the Malays and the revelling on the trains ceased.
    Some of the older non-aircon carriages had observation platforms at the ends….these were ideal for squatting with acquired seats and bucket of beers and ice to appreciate the jungle disappearing behind the train.
    On one of my returns from Crown I travelled by train from Ubon to Singapore. A two week trip with many delightful stops.
    I still travel the Thai trains when I can escape! Thai trains are happier than the Malay trains!
    I am indeed thankful for many delight memories on these railways. I’ve been spoilt!
    All engineers love trains!!

  6. Train stories just keep coming.

    Avril Oxley RAF
    Whilst serving at RAF Seletar, in 67/68 I was sent on a train from Singapore, via Kuala lumpur to the Cameron Highlands to go on a religious course for a week, as my CO wanted me to sort my head out, I have fond memories of that trip I was with 2 other Wrafs and to be honest we had the time of our lives on arrival at the destination we were met by loads of young Army chaps who had been sent there to dry out and get off drugs, Cant say I remember much about the course only the fun we all had as young people .......... And by the way the train journey was interesting to say the least.

    Stan Dennis
    was in Nee Soon transit camp for a few days Then on the train to Tampin the train was full along with chickens and goats,this was Jan1966.

    Roy Mansfield
    I travelled from Nee Soon to KL in 1955. A 24 hour journey by train.

    John Gibbens
    Also did the trip in a very basic shared sleeper train to KL from Singapore Keppel road in 1968. seemed to take forever. funny how today it costs thousands to travel that route on the Orient express train.

  7. Some more from FB.

    Mel Wilsea
    Travelled a few times on the railway.When my wife and son arrived to join me her tickets were 1st Class mine were 3 third thanks 11 SQN Orderly Room

    John Knowles
    When my wife flew out to join me in Terendak I was not allowed to go into S'poreto meet her because of political problems/riots, so had to meet her at JB - then the train aheas of us was de- railed so we ended up on a 'local' bus. A good introduction to Malaya for her.

  8. went down to sort out riots on coursway 65ish , Chinese communists taking the piss . soon left when twenty odd SLRs where pointed at them.

  9. David Curless RA

    Was sent down by road on "Ammo detail" Terendak to Singapore.. Which then left without me. Turned out it was all planned, sent to Changi where my eldest brother was awaiting me. Then both of us travelled up to Tampin on the train. Great, but never to be repeated experience.

  10. Nigel Woodger Borneo Malaya veterans group
    Excellent reading

  11. Harold W Ref.
    Sunsets Never Change Awangs Story
    Absolutely fantastic, Well Done Tony. A true item well recorded my friend.

    I have printed a paper copy off, to enjoy once again over the weekend.

    As a small aside, I sang as a chorister in St Georges Church then later as head chorister in St Andrews in Singapore. Many memories re kindled !!

    You really are a Star, to have written the volume of words and done the research to conclude matters. Truly a Man of Letters !

    Thank you once again for including me in the loop

    Best Regards Harold

  12. Wow! this has brought back so many happy memories for me. I was just sixteen when I went to Tampin with my parents. I was in awe of everything & just loved the train journey. Can anyone help me with photos of Tampin from 1962-1965?


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