Ops and Malaysia troop 19 Signal Regt.

Operations Troop and Malaysia Troop…retold from “Our History”

The start of Confrontation with Indonesia began with the revolt in Brunei on 8th December 1962. This immediately involved the Regiment in an operational commitment and at long last Malaya Squadron, consisting mainly of Malaysia Troop and Operations (Ops.) Troop which had been formed for such an eventuality, was put to the test.

Early days 1962

The first detachment from Ops. Troop arrived in Labuan for active service on 12 December 1962 and two further detachments and an officer moved in the next week. Initially they were deployed at Labuan and Brunei airfields, activating these to operational readiness. A 40-line F & F switchboard was installed at Labuan and a small 10-line magneto at Brunei. The detachment was also given the task in providing some of the communications for HQ COMBRITBOR in Brunei Town, where a further 40-line F & F switchboard was installed for Force HQ. By the end of the month one officer and 14 men were deployed in the Borneo Territories. However in the New Year as the situation became more stable it was possible to withdraw two of the detachments leaving behind a few men on the two airfields to maintain the line systems. This maintenance task involved the rehabilitation of UG (Underground) cables mainly on Labuan airfield and this work continued for the next two months. In addition some minor telephone installations at Kuching were completed in February

Communications in Borneo

Confrontation still brought calls on the Regiment for installation and repair work in Borneo. Ops. roop now found itself involved in radio-relay when in January 1964 a small team as sent to Kuching to install a B 70 radio-relay link between Kuching Airport and West Brigade in Kuching Town. This was to be a back-up in the event of a breakdown in the civil line communications. COMBRITBOR then moved from Borneo to a new combined headquarters in Labuan where a line detachment was sent to assist in the combined services project for the new headquarters. The threat of increased Indonesian air activity necessitated the basing of fighter aircraft at Kuching and this in turn meant that the airfield communication system had to be made more sophisticated. A project was planned which included the laying of cable tails for the transmitter site, the T-type radar convoy, aircraft dispersals and navaids. An additional 10 + 50 exchange was also included. The installation task was undertaken by two detachments of Malaya Troop, and for the first time these included some LEP tradesmen.By 1966 the Squadron was commanded by Maj. Frank Philp who had commanded Changi Troop in the early fifties


In August 1964 Malaya Troop took over all commitments in North Borneo in order to release Operations Troop for another major SEATO Exercise in Thailand, called AIR BOON CHOO. Three detachments were deployed to the exercise headquarters at Don Muang and the airfields at Korat and Udorn. One of the most complex of circuits from an engineering point of view was a link from HQ FEAF in Singapore to the Exercise HQ at Don Muang. The routing was from RAF Circuit Control at Changi, through Main System Control (Army) Singapore, then via the Golden Arrow (SWB 8) to Bangkok and on to the US Army Microwave System into Don Muang
and finally over a D10 field cable run to the terminal. It worked!

Tawau in Sabah

In North Borneo the project installation teams at Labuan and Kuching completed their work and returned to Singapore. However a further outpost of the Regiment was added to the already impressive list when another airfield required activating, namely Tawau in Sabah; 05this involved the usual exchange installation and cable tails to the Technical and Domestic sites

Click on the slider below for photos of the Troop on and off duty

The photos below are those donated to the website by various members of Ops Troop but particular thanks are to the Selby Robinson collection, those donated by Alan Lewis from his album and those sent in by Sean Mullen.

Sean’s own story of his days with Ops Troop are related under Memories and Photos of Ops Troop later on in the Ops Troop history.

(My grateful thanks to those who have written in and pointed out various errors in photos and typos…Ed)


Selby Robinson

Stripped and ready for action.Action man Selby Robinson

John Goodfellow

John Goodfellow left in charge of the boat. Well “Hello sailor”

Goldie and Brian

Goldie Peters and Brian Tewkesbury in deep conversation at one of the reunions

Selby and Midge

Its Ok they were just good friends

What a lovely family

One of the last pictures we have of our dear friend Ray Cank, his family and some of his friends at one of the reunions

Ops Troop ready

Ops troop on exercise.

Keith Marchant, Alf Ashmore , Fred Flintham, Taff Tudgay, Johnny May, Taff Taylor, Bert Wright, Pete Coathup,
Teoh, Bob Hocking, Mick Kelly, Kok, Chippy Wood, John Goodfellow, Bob Carter, Eric Firth and Driver Geordie Rogers.

All aboard

………….and this is what they call work

Tug of War

Tug of War winners.  Back Row. Ian Guirey, Ian Cameron, Nobby Clarke, Colin Maclaron,

Front Row Ray Cank, Pete Tarrent, Selby Robinson Ted Widdowson

More tea.

Not another tea break !   Dave Lyon, Selby Robinson, Geordie Rodgers and Midge Brown


Relaxing in Bugis street. Not sure if the one at the back is a member of Ops Troop

Ops In Bugis Street

……..possibly Bugis street ? Selby Robinson, Mick and Helen Kelly and Paddy Cartin.


Left to right Johnny May, Tom Turner, Midge Brown, Dave Lyon, Mick Kelly,

Taff Tudgay, Bob Philpott, Selby Robinson, Spider Webb:.

RAAF Club Penang

Having a jar or two at the RAAF Club Penang.Selby Robinson, Bob and Evelyn ( Aussie hosts) and Chippy Wood

Selby and Ray Doe

…..Bit worried about the hand on the shoulder

....and more tea.

Left to right..at the back. Selby Robinson, Midge Brown, Pete Coathup, Dave Lyon and Lofty Price

Harry Betton is in the front.

Is this strip poker?

Selby Robinson, Paddy Cartin and Ray Doe. Nice leg. Would go down well in Bugis Street

Selby and Avril

So Selby. Who was Avril ?

At the China Sea Beach Club

Back row Left to Right.

Paddy Cartin, Bob Hocking, Midge Brown and Jock Soutar (RAF)

front row : Chippy Wood, Tich Mullen, Selby Robinson and Paddy xxx (RAF)

What ?

Hope this wasn’t taken at the bus stop.

Keith, Bob, Selby and Midge

Keith Marchant, Bob Carter, Selby and Midge Brown

From the Alan Lewis collection.

Left to right

Marilyn,a WRAC girl from 18 Signal Regiment, An RAF friend, Sue and Bunny Warren and Alan Lewis in the foreground

The Alan Lewis collection

The following selections are from Alan Lewis’s Photo album

Apologies if some of the photos are blurred on enlarging  JH

Allan Lewis's photos 1967 to 1970

Games evening between RAF Seletar and 18 Signal Regiment

The lady in the white overall is Betty (WRVS)

Taff Marchant is seated facing the camera



Admin Inspection 1968

The Annual Administrative Inspection (Ops troop)

On the left is Ray Cank and Alan, S.Sgt Pete Blunt and Capt. Eric Firth are also on the left

Inspecting Officers on the right.

Admin inspection again.

Left to right facing the camera.

Lofty Price, Cpl Dave Lyon, L.Cpl Paddy Cartin, Ray Cank and Alan.


Troop photo... Taken in the compound

Ops Troop taken in the compound

Photo includes Midge Brown,(striped shirt) Geoff Pinder, SSM Alan Webster, Sgt George Black, Sean Mullen (striped shirt) and Ray Cank,

Squadron Commander Maj. Frank Philp is on the extreme right.

in the field

Pete Coathup, Mari Sahari, Chris Macklin Geordie Rodgers and Alan

in the ulu

Great picture Alan

Now that’s what I call camouflage.

On Patrol

Just about easy to see. Who are they ?

Who am I

It would appear that this is the RAF chef..and he owes Alan 10 Dollars.


The REME mechanic from Changi and L.Cpl Ted Widdowson

Deep in thought

Alan taken before the days of Selfies.

Grub up

Even “Cammed up” for chow

Drinking Petrol?

Scouse Williams and Midge Brown

Whatever are they doing ?

In the shade

On the right, Johnny Broughton

Grub up again

Same picture as before. Different angle. Who is on the left?

Not quite sure

It would appear it is a young lady washing in the stream in the Cameron Highlands.


Malaysia Railways 1968.


Fooled you there

It is the REME mechanic from Changi and Ted Widdowson in a borrowed beret

Air Display

3 Cessna 172 landing at Seletar.

In 1969, that was the entire Singapore Air Force


RAF Driver skills training

On the parade ground at Seletar.

Where are we

RAF Driver skills training in private cars.

picture of a landrover

RAF Driver skills training in private cars and Landrovers..

At RAF Seletar.

picture of a landrover

RAF Driver skills training in private cars and Landrovers..

At RAF Seletar.

MP Landrover

The end of RAF Driver skills training in private cars and Landrovers..

At RAF Seletar.

The Sean Mullen collection

Sean today 50 years on !!!!

Sean ready to go to a show.

...and now Selby and Sean

Look at those eyes !!

Sean and Paddy Cartin

Sean checking out the litter

Sean, Selby and Paddy (RAF)

Don’t ask what they are doing !!

Sean's 21st Birthday

More of that 21st Birthday

How many more can you name?

More of the 21st.

……….and a few Tigers later. !!!!

Selby Robinson and Midge Brown

When Selby wants to make a point……

..............and Selby again

This time at the swimming pool

Selby trains a snake

…..and if you believe that !!!

Midge Brown

Scouse Daly

Selby Dressed to Kill

Scouse Daly

Sean enjoying a pint..is it the China Sea beach club?

Seletar swimming pool

What is Midge laughing at?

Paddy, Midge and Sean

Ready for a walk

Changi NAAFI

Well if it isn't Paddy again.!!

Bugis Street......where else?

The best of British

Bob Hocking

The Botanical Gardens

There are a number of photos in the albums of both Sean and Selby which refer to their visits to the Botanical Gardens in Singapore so it is perhaps prudent to remind ourselves of those beautiful gardens and include the photos in this narrative.

For more  than 150-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens is a star visitor attraction for the sophisticated traveller and the local resident. It was, in particular, a MUST visit for all us servicemen who were part of 19 Signal Regiment in the 50’s and 60’s. The Gardens possess an array of botanical and horticultural attractions with a rich history and a wonderful plant collection of worldwide significance. Complementing these unique resources are sensitive developments and entertainment events providing visitors educational and recreational facilities amidst the wonders of nature. It is the most visited botanic gardens in the world and is a unique example of the informal English Landscape Movement’s style in an equatorial climate.

Brief History

The first botanical garden was set up by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and a keen naturalist, in 1822 on Government Hill at Fort Canning, mainly to introduce into cultivation economic crops. It closed in 1829 and, in 1859, at the present Tanglin site a new garden was developed by an Agri-Horticultural Society, and later handed over to the government in 1874. From an ornamental garden with roads, terraces, a band parade area and even a small zoo, it has come a long way in evolving into a leading equatorial botanic garden of 82 hectares, where major world crops, such as rubber and orchids were launched.

The Tiger Balm Gardens (Haw Pah villas)


The park, originally called Tiger Balm Gardens, was built in 1937 by the Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of Tiger Balm, as a venue for teaching traditional Chinese values. They moved their business from Burma to Singapore in 1926 and purchased the site in 1935. It was a favourite visiting place for millions during the 50’s and the 60’s.

In 1986 the International Theme Parks Pte Ltd, announced an investment of $30 million to modernise the themed park. This company was a joint venture formed by Fraser & Neave and Times Publishing, and had invested on the latest animatronics and technology to enhance the attractions in hope to create an ‘oriental Disneyland’, a theme park meeting Western technology with Eastern mythology.

In 1988, the Singapore Tourism Board took charge of the Tiger Balm Gardens and renamed it “Haw Par Villa Dragon World”. The Haw Par in the park’s name is based on the Aw brothers’ personal names—Haw and Par, which mean “tiger” and “leopard” respectively. The dioramas and statues were restored, while plays, acrobatic displays and puppet shows were organised and held there. 

Memories of the "Good old days" by John Goodfellow

Taken at John’s 21st in Bugis street Too many to name

Hutch and the camp bike

Keith Marchant, John and Hutch

Taken on Gan island.

On the left is Bob Large

Aboard a chopper

Bob Carter and Danny May

.......boozing again

Hutch, JG and Selby

Just Bob Carter

Could be anybody.

any ideas ?

Roughing it

includes Taff Tudgay, Bob Carter, Keith Marchant

Not roughing it !!

Bob Large, Taff Coatup and Chippy Wood

and still not roughing it !!

Eric Firth with Taff Tudgay, Bob Hocking and JG

Too many names

But includes JG, Chippy Wood, Herbert Wright, Taff Tudgay and Johnny May

Eric Firth demonstrates how to drink.

Taff Tudgay with Les Grubb

JG doing the long jump

and cracked his ankle. With Johnny May, Keith Merchant and Bob Carter

and another party

Looking for names

....another little party

includes Chippy Wood, Gareth Coatup, Bob Large, Keith Marchant and Hutch

JG Standing

what is going on?

Jim Flintham, plus Les Grubb and Eric Firth

.........back to boozing

Chippy Wood, Bob Hocking, Terry Welch and Gareth Coatup

Gan !

The Gan Island accomodation

How smart !

Ray Cank, Herbert Wright and Jim Flintham

out in the ulu.

Too many to mention by JG is in there somewhere.

Tom Coyne

This is where we came in.

Back to Bugis JG with Keith Marchant