"Upon the hill top stands a guiding light"

Mike Battson's memories of Slim.

My thanks to Mike for his contribution.

Attached is the scan of the letter from the British Nat. Hist. Museum about the sloughed off snakeskin I found. I think I hyped it up a bit in my previous email – it’s from only a Common Cobra, not a King Cobra!

Click here for Museum Letter

I’ve had a look through the photo gallery pertinent to my time and certainly recognise some of the pupils. Arnold Harris’s photo of ‘Two others and Roger Goose’ the Ghurka lad is probably Nabin Chandra Gurung. He was in my class and a great character. Photo nine shows Jogendra Vikram Gurung – goalkeeper in most matches and became one of my best friends throughout my time, including Singapore. His family were stationed in Kluang (2nd/6th Ghurka Rifles, I think) and I sometimes visited him when we were in Kluang. My Father was with the R.E.M.E Inspectorate and he moved around all over Malaya taking me with him when I was on holiday from Slim School. As a result, I was able to visit a lot of my pals who I would not normally have seen when away from school.

Mike Say’s photo of ‘The Ghurka Boys’ – 1st left is, I think, Lal Bahadur Limbu, 2nd left definitely Jogendra Vikram Gurung. I certainly remember Roger Goose because I stayed with him and his family in Singapore when I first arrived. Long story, but we had no permanent home because of my father’s duties. As my parents had recently divorced, and my father was given custody of me, the Army were good enough to allow me to travel with my father most of the time, but I did have quite a lot of new ‘Aunties and Uncles’ who kindly let me stay with them when Dad couldn’t have me stay in the barracks.

Marie Allen’s (nee Curley) ‘Memories’ are far more lucid than mine, but I certainly remember the lad whose father was shot. Every now and again, a boy or a girl would suddenly disappear from school. I think we all knew what had happened because it could so easily have been one of us. The story, as far as I remember, was that he had actually gone out with his father in a small army convoy. He was with his father in a Landrover when they were ambushed by CT’s. His father did get shot and the Ghurkas supporting as escort fought the CT’s off. Arnold, if that was his name, was unharmed and was able to get water from the holed radiator to give his father to drink. The CT’s didn’t touch him and didn’t prevent him from helping his father. His father did die. I don’t know about the sweets bit.

Trevor and Peter Compton’s parents were RAF and lived in Penang. Peter was my friend and we were together in a dormitory in Singapore. Again I visited him when my Dad was in Penang. Trevor was a few years older, a bit of a rogue as far as the school was concerned, but a thoroughly nice guy who the girls all wanted!

(Name withheld) I didn’t like and chased the youngsters about a lot. Used to chase us into the cold showers in the morning and whack us with a metal coat hanger if we were too slow. In a way, we got our own back when he was having a shower and put his foot in a hole in the asbestos and was bitten by a snake! The snake, fortunately, was harmless and one that we called a Red-Tailed Racer, but it was killed and somehow ended up under one of the senior girls teacups at breakfast. Much screaming and I think he got into a bit of trouble!

Tony Amos was, I think, Head Boy and Roger his Deputy when I first went to Slim School.

From reading and reviewing photos and memories, it seems that the school didn’t close in 56/57as I thought it had, but for some reason a lot of us were transferred to Singapore. I suspect that the Australians based up north around Butterworth had, by then, probably brought their families with them and, of course, there would not have been enough spaces at Slim so they reduced our numbers by setting up the boarding school for Alexandra Grammar School, which until our arrival had been just a day attendance school. I can’t think of any other reason, but we were just told that the Slim School had been closed. I certainly don’t remember any Australians at Slim when I was there, but they are mentioned by Marie and others.

Keith Prothero was a good football player, as were the Ghurka lads who seemed at times to dominate the team! One girl, whose name I think was Sarah Parks, was an excellent athlete and I think won the Junior Victor Ludorum at one prizegiving. As well as being attractive with very long dark hair, she was a real brainbox too!

Yes, the armoured personnel carriers were ‘Coffins’, but my father’s unit called them ‘Pigs’. The huts were ‘attap’ and not ‘tapah’ as I said. Reading others memories has jiggled mine, but I still cannot remember the name of my dormitory although Frobisher rings a bell and it seems that Paul Sharples was the senior of Frobisher. I’ll have to read on a bit to jog the brainbox!

Hope you don’t mind my rambling, and it’s probably about time that I sorted out my remaining photos and tried to put something sensible down. One memory is that I seemed always to be on the ‘Jankers Squad’ rebuilding those steps up the hill from the playing field for getting caught for something or other!

Best Wishes,
Mike Battson.


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