Leong Kam Thim - My life with RAF Seletar (1950's to 1971)



My name is Leong Kam Thim from Singapore. I am now 88+ years old. I am one of those civilian in Singapore who worked for the RAF bases in Singapore from 1950's to March 1971, spending some 20+ years from my mid 20s to 44 year of age.


I started as a Joiner with RAF Seletar at the carpentry workshop, polishing up my skills in carpentry and moving up the ranks with promotions with my hard work appreciated by my OICs. Along the way, I was transferred out to RAF Changi and as well as RAF Tengah to assist the respective workshops, as and when there were manpower shortages.


Over the years, my work and job scope covers the making of new and the reconditioning of old furnitures, thus enabling me to acquire new and fine skills in the trade of carpentry, from making and re-con of new stools to new office furnitures like cupboards, sofas etc.


Into the 1960's, I returned to RAF Seletar and with my hard work appreciated, qualifications and the recommendation from the officers, I took on the foremanship with the 390MU's carpentry workshop and lead some 20+ men till the closure of 390MU in the early 1971 when the British forces pulls out in 1971. RAF Seletar officially closed in March 1971.


Mid 1960s and into 1970, over our Chinese Lunar New Year (usually 3rd day of the break), I will invite some of the 390MU's British expats officers and men to my small and humble 2 rooms (SIT Flat) at Block 30 unit #01-64 Tasek Utara Singapore 8, for a simple meal over lunch. As my house was too small, I could only invite a few. My memories are fading fast and I did remembered a name Ivan Old and another officer by the name of "Mr Pain".


On a lighter note, I remembered, in 1968 to 1970, brought along my 2 children (while my 3rd was too young) with me to work during the long school breaks. That was the first time that my 2 kids (10 & 12 years old) sat on a Bedford 3 toner to RAF Seletar - an early look into working life. They enjoyed the outings and especially the food over lunch - Nasi Brani.


After March 1971, I took on many jobs, which includes jobs with ANZUK forces, shipyards like SELCOs and other small private companies, all in the field of carpentry.


Here are some of the official photos taken during the various visits by senior RAF officers. I have arranged them accordingly, based on my best recollection.


Kam Thim taking a breather outside the Photographic Section (RAF Seletar)


A visiting Air Marshal inspecting the men flanked by the base GPT Captain and A warm welcome to a visiting Air Commodore to the 390MU carpentry workshop


The visiting Air Commodore understanding the daily operation of the workshop




A visiting Air Marshal appreciating the final touch of a RAF Plaque and A visiting RAF Air Marshal visiting the 390MU carpentry workshop (6 July 1965)


The visiting RAF Air Marshal appreciating the fine point of a finger joint in furniture carpentry (6 July 1965) and A warm welcome to a visiting officer (25 Feb 1969)



A Hawker Hunter at the base



Officers gathering at the symbolic closure of 390MU in 1971



A symbolic closure of 390MU (RAF Seletar) in 1971



Kam Thim & his wife (10 Dec 2014)


Hope you enjoy the photos.

Warmest regards

Leong Kam Thim ( Dec 2014 )


Leong Kam Thim - My life with RAF Seletar (1950's to 1971)