The V.I. Air Training Corps
Our Forgotten Cadets
The Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps (1961)
It began as one the first constructive steps to preparing the country for independence, recruiting and nurturing a corps of potential airmen for a future air force. It lasted only about twelve years, the actual date and reason for its demise probably noted in some mouldy administrative minutes in the National Archives. Still it afforded a hundred plus impressionable V.I. lads the memorable experience of drilling in starched uniforms, learning discipline and leadership skills and bumming free rides in aircraft ranging from single-engined Tiger Moths to Meteor jets. For a lucky handful there were even trips to England and Australia to attend ATC summer camps with their counterparts from other countries. Old Victorian World War Two air ace, Jimmy Talalla, was briefly its Commandant, adding lustre to the corps. Its most illustrious graduate was undoubtedly Bhaskar Guha Raye, one of two twin brothers to join as ATC cadets in the late fifties. Bhaskar went on to join the Indian Air Force and, tragically, died in action when his jet fighter was shot down in the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. Another air cadet, one Corporal Shamsuddin Kadir, is, of course, better known as a Captain today - a Captain of Industry - and a Tan Sri to boot. There has never been an official history of the V.I. ATC and probably never will be. So below are assembled the annual ATC reports from the Victorian of that era which serve as a rough chronicle of a corps that the V.I. has forgotten or, worse, never knew existed. The recollections of some ex-ATC cadets are also included.
Independence is one of the topics for discussion among the law-abiding citizens of this country. There is no doubt that an independent Malaya is the goal of the people and before this can be achieved, there must be unity and peace among the various communities in the country. In looking forward to this achievement, the Malayan Government has recently established the Air Training Corps, the Federation Regiment and the Malayan Auxilary Air Force to take over the responsibilities of defence when the time comes.
In November 1951, the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps was born and it has since advanced apace and, consequently, the air-minded youths of Malaya will devote much of their time to bringing this corps to the notice of the people. Gradually its fame will spread far and wide.
Its members comprise boys of the various races, each with a feeling of friendship, goodwill and tolerance. It is certain that from this corps some of Malaya's future airmen will emerge.
The Squadron comprises three flights, "A", "B" and "C". Each flight in turn consists of students from the three leading schools in Kuala Lumpur. They are the St. John's Institution, the Methodist Boys' School and the Victoria Institution. We belong to the "A" Squadron, which is twenty-five in number.
"A" Flight, No. 1 Squadron (Selangor), FMATC (1952)
At the beginning of the formation of the Corps, the Squadron under the leadership of former RAF. Officers and regular RAF instructors, consisted of twenty-five members, nine of whom were from the V.I. They were given a two month's potential NCO Training, after which an examination had to be undergone. As a result of the examination, Loke Kok Lye was appointed Sergeant while Mansor Noor and Shamsuddin Kadir were appointed Corporals. The Squadron was then opened to those youngsters who were interested. Those who passed the Medical Test were accepted. Basic training was then given to all and soon after this started, Sgt. Loke Kok Lye was promoted Flight Sergeant in charge of discipline for the whole Squadron, while Corporal Mansor was appointed Sergeant in charge of "A" Flight. At the same time Cadet Hussein Idrus was promoted Corporal. After intensive training an examination was held to classify the cadets and determine into which Proficiency Trade they were to be put.
The subjects examined were:-(i) Aircraft Recognition; (ii): Map and Chart Reading; (iii) Foot and Arms Drill; (iv) General Knowledge and (v) Morse Code. It was with pride that we learned that most of the cadets of "A" Flight had passed the examination. The Flight would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Cadet Tay Chong Sim for gaining first place in the whole Squadron and thus bringing credit to this Flight.
At the RAF Station on August 3rd, 1952, a special inspection parade was held, at which the RAF Station Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Wasse, took the salute and presented proficiency stars to the successful cadets.
In, his short speech, the Wing Commander told the Squadron that he was very much impressed by the smart turn-out of the Cadets. Credit for this, he said, should go not only to members of the Squadron but also to the instructors and officers. He concluded by saying, "I am very pleased to see that the Squadron consists of boys of all races - a fact which shows a true Federation which will remain united in the years ahead."
The following are the NCOs of "A" Flight:- Sgt Mansor Noor, Cpl Shamsuddin Kadir and Cpl Hussein Idrus.
In July, the ATC Headquarters in England, through the Air Ministry, invited three cadets and an officer from the FMATC to fly to England to attend the Annual ATC Summer Camp. Flt Sgt Loke Kok Lye was selected to represent the Squadron.
May we, in conclusion, appeal to all air-minded youths in Malaya to join the ATC when the opportunities arise. We assure them it is wonderful!
Sgt Mansor Noor
The No. 1 Squadron of the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps was formed in Selangor at the end of 1951 with nine boys from the Victoria Institution and eight each from the St. John's Institution and the Methodist Boys' School who underwent special training as potential NCOs.
In January 1952, more boys were recruited from the three schools to form the three flights of twenty-five boys each. Of the first nine from the School, Sergeant Abdul Qayyum bin Rustum Ali is the only one still in the Corps. Of the second batch, only Flight Sergeant Law Wei Min is still in the Corps. AC 1 Abdullah bin Ali and AC 1 Abdul Latiff bin Suboh joined the Corps early in 1953.
Squadron Leader G. Geldard, the Commandant of the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps, resigned at the end of 1953 and the post was taken up by Squadron Leader Tallala, an Old Boy of the school.
A School Flight was formed at the beginning of this year in the school followed a few weeks later by the formation of a School Flight in St John's. Twenty-five boys from the Third and Fourth Forms were recruited into the ranks, with Mr. T. Navaratnam as Officer-in-Charge.
Their preliminary training was undertaken by the Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant S. Anthony, with the assistance of the Flight Sergeant and Sergeant. After about two months' training, they sat for their preliminary examinations. Twenty-one of them passed the exam, the remaining four of them having resigned during the course of the training. They were then issued with uniforms. They are at present doing their basic training and will be sitting for their basic examinations early in November.
In the meantime, twenty-four Cadets and NCOs. have been chosen to undergo flying training under 'the Chief Instructor from the K.L Flying Club, Squadron Leader Nicoll. The following are from the V.I.:-
This flying training is only meant as an air experience and as a practical course in the theory of flight of an aircraft and not training for "wings".
When Flight Sergeant Nordin bin Shaffie resigned in June the
following were promoted to fill up the gaps with effect from 11th July, 1953:—
The following is a list of boys who are in the Air Training Corps: —
To round up the programme for the year the Air Training Corps will be holding its annual camp from December 12th to December 22nd, 1954, at Changi, Singapore.
Law Wei Min, Flight Sergeant
The activities for the year 1954 were brought to a close rather abruptly when the second annual camping which was to have been held at Changi, Singapore during the December holidays was cancelled due to the heavy floods in Singapore at that time. It was rather disappointing for all those selected to go for the camp but as it was there was nothing that could be done about it. The annual camp for 1955 will be held in Singapore again, this time at Tengah during the August holidays.
Eleven members of the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps and eight from the Malayan Air Training Corps in Singapore, together with the Commandant of the FMATC, Flight Lieutenant S. Anthony, were down in Australia for a good will tour which lasted three weeks, 31st December, 1954 to 20th January, 1955. While they were 'down under', twenty members of the Royal Australian Air Training Corps were in Malaya for the same length of time. This was the first exchange trip of its kind between the ATCs of Australia and Malaya, and this is hoped to be treated as an annual affair.
No. 2 Squadron, Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps (1955)
During their twenty one days in Australia, a comparatively short period to spend on the island continent, our boys saw more of Australia than the average Australian does and the same can be said of the Australian cadets who were in Malaya. Flight Sergeant Law Wei Min was one of the four representatives for No. 1 (Selangor) Squadron, the other three were Warrant Officer M. Campbell from St. John's Institution, Flight Sergeant K. Kanagandram from the Methodist Boys' School, K.L. and Corporal K. Kathrivellu from the Batu Arang Flight.
Mr. T. Navaratnam, the teacher-in-charge of the V.I. Flight for 1954 was transferred to the Maxwell Road School at the end of the year, and we now have Mr. A. Saunderson, an ex-R.A.F. Officer, taking charge of the V.I. Flights. We are very lucky indeed to have Mr. Saunderson as teacher-in- charge. He has been giving lectures to senior cadets in their Proficiency Part A training. This series of lectures will last till the end of July and an examination will then be set for all those who have been attending the lectures.
At the beginning of this year a new flight of twenty five was formed, drawn from the third and fourth forms in the School. Their preliminary training was undertaken by the two senior NCO's., Flt Sgt Law Wei Min and Flt Sgt Abdul Qayyum assisted by Sgt. Mohd. Som. Twenty one of them sat for the preliminary examinations, most of them passing with higher percentages than boys from the other new flights from St. John's and M.B.S. All the twenty one of them have been issued with uniforms, and will take up their basic training which will last till the end of July.
Yearly there is a flying training course for twenty four cadets from No. 1 (Selangor) Squadron. Last year's course was not completed because the instructor left for home leave and there was no one to take over. This year's training has already started and of the twenty four undergoing the course, the following are from the School:
The following have been selected to go to the 1955 annual
camp at Sembawang, Singapore.
At the moment there are two flights in the School. One flight consists of the senior cadets who joined the corps last year and earlier, and the other flight consists of those who joined this year.
No. 1 Flight.
Law Wei Min, Flight Sergeant
The 1954 Annual Camp which was to be held at Changi, Singapore, did not take place owing to the floods. The Cadets had their 1955 Annual Camp at Sambawang, Singapore, from August 7th to 17th. At camp the Cadets of No. 1 Squadron were smart in their turn out and showed keen interest in games and sports and carried away most of the prizes.
Mr. Saunderson, the Master-in-Charge of the School Flight, was very helpful to the Corps by giving lectures to the Cadets in Proficiency "A" Training. We were very sorry to lose him when he left us for England and wish him the best of luck. In his place, we have Mr. Michael Peter and Mr. E. J. Lawerence as Masters-in-charge.
The Adjutant of the No. 1 Squadron (Selangor), Pilot Officer T. Navaratnam, became the new Commanding Officer of the Selangor Squadron when the former Commanding Officer, Flight-Lieutenant S. Anthony, resigned.
Cadets in weekday drills on school premises (1956)
Many Cadets have resigned owing to the completion of their school careers, thus reducing the strength of the School Flight. Fifteen boys were recruited from the School and after training, they sat for the preliminary examination and were all successful. They will be issued with uniforms and will then be given further training and lectures for the basic examination.
The V.I. Flight was without a Flight Sergeant from the beginning of the year as the former Flight Sergeant, Mohd. Som, had left school. The following were promoted with effect from 24th June, 1956:-Sgt Chan Teck Heng to Flight Sergeant
Cadet Liew Kon Foo to Corporal
Cadet C. Ariaratnam to Corporal
There are two Flights in-the School at present, one of older Cadets and the other of recruits. The following are the Cadets:-
Flt Sgt Chan Teck Heng, Corporal Zainal Azman bin Omar, Corporal C. Ariaratnam, Corporal Liew Kon Foo, A.C. 2 Abdullah Junai, V. Balasubramaniam, Chan Kean Leong, Chew Kim Chwee, Hamid Lian, Kandasamy, Kwong Pak Kong, Krishna R., Mohd. Razali b. Dato Yahaya, Nik Osman Ariff, Rajaselvam.
The recruits are: Abdul Ghafar b. Hassan, Abdul Karim b. Abdul, Rani, Balwant Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Ismail b. Ibrahim, Jerry D. Sekvader, Kwan Pak Cheen, N. P. Doshi, R. Anandaraju, Samarrendu Paul, Shariful Azman b. Othman, V. Gunaseelan, Wong Peng Yew, N. Selvarajah.
The Air Training Corps will have its annual camp during the August holidays at Sembawang in Singapore.
Chan Teck Heng, Flight Sergeant
This Corps is a youth organisation to train boys as future airmen. It comprises three Squadrons, namely No. 1 Squadron, Selangor; No. 2 Squadron, Penang; and No. 3 Squadron, Perak. The No. 1 Squadron, Selangor, is made up of four flights of boys from various schools.
The 1957 Annual Camp was held in Seletar, Singapore, during the April holidays. In camp the Cadets were smart in their turn out and showed great interest in their duties, and the camp turned out to be very successful and enjoyable.
Recruits together with a few of the older Cadets are now undergoing training in foot-drill, rifle-drill, morse, map reading, aircraft-recognition and ground-combat.
After the resignation of our Flight Sergeant, Chan Teck Heng, the following were promoted with effect from February 24th, 1957:—Corporal Liew Kon Foo to Sergeant.
Cadet Kwan Pak Kong to Corporal.
The V.I. Flight is under the command of the Adjutant, Pilot Officer E. J. Lawrence.
Sgt Liew Kon Foo
Pupils from the Victoria Institution form the "A" Flight in the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps. The strength of the V.I. Flight is 25.
Flight Officer E. J. Lawrence, the Adjutant, and Pilot Officer Dorairaj are in charge of the Flight.
The government is awarding scholarships to outstanding Air Cadets to obtain a private pilot's licence. Three names have been suggested from this school for the scholarships. They are L.A.C. Balwant Singh, L.A.C. Anandaraju and Sgt. Doshi, N.P.
The annual camp this year will be held during the December holidays. The various squadrons from Penang, Perak and Selangor will meet together and experience rigid camp life. There will also be other activities such as range practice, flying and drill.
Recruitment will take place at the beginning of the year.
Sgt N.P. Doshi
The headquarters of the No. 1 Squadron (Selangor), Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps, lies sandwiched between the hangars of the Flying Club and Airport building. The atmosphere here is always perfect for the purposes of practical lessons and training.
The ATC has been very active this year in all fields of its training. The timetable for lessons on theory has been reorganised and a period for the recruits, has been introduced too. Training (foot and rifle drill) periods have been shortened considerably because the strain on the cadets, particularly in the blazing morning heat on Sunday is beyond their endurance. Their lessons include lectures on Aircraft Recognition, Jungle Survival, Morse Code, Map Reading and Theory of Flight (which, of course, includes basic working principles of the aircraft controls and engine).
During the past years the ATC has earned a good name for itself for its smartness at official public parades. This year they upheld that name during the Merdeka Youth Rally when they showed their ability with the .303 (Mark 5) rifles which they used for the first time.
The ATC has many attractions, one of which is the flying scholarship. It is awarded annually to the most outstanding cadet. This scholarship offers training until the Cadet acquires his Private Pilot's Licence, which is a very high qualification indeed.
The Annual Camp is an affair always anxiously awaited for. It brings together the cadets of the Penang, Perak and Selangor squadrons for ten days. Last December the Camp was held in the billets of the RMAF. Everybody enjoys an Annual Camp and this was no exception. There were games, swimming, flying, shooting, excursions to factories and lessons in parachute packing. The camp for the Singapore Cadets is a bigger affair. Well over two thousand boys attend. Guest cadets from other nations are always invited to their Camp. Two of our smartest cadets are among the invited guests. Their activities are greater for they have jet flights and speed boat trips round the island.
The V.I. Flight has always formed a major part of the Corps. But, today, our strength has been reduced owing to the resignation of older cadets who have left school. As a result there are only three NCOs in the V.I. Flight.
They are:Flt Sgt Bhaskar G. Raye.
Sgt Dibakar G. Raye.
Cpl Phang Kwan On.
To supplement our reduced strength, twenty-five boys have been recruited. We hope, under the able guidance of Pilot Officer Dorai Raj and Flying Officer Lawrence, they will turn out to be good and successful cadets. But, they must remember that to win flying scholarships, or to be elected the smartest cadet for the Singapore Camp, or to pass their examinations, they must possess proper initiative, sense of responsibility and discipline.
Bhaskar G. Raye, Flt Sgt
The Headquarters of the No.l Squadron (Selangor), Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps which formerly lay sandwiched between the hangers of the Flying Club and the Airport building has been shifted to a new building situated on a hill overlooking the old Headquarters. The atmosphere here is always perfect for practical lessons and training.
Annual Camp, RMAF Base, Sungai Besi (1961)
The FMATC has been very active this year in all fields of its training. Besides foot and rifle drill, lessons which include aircraft recognition, jungle survival, morse code, map reading and theory of flight are also given. There are also film shows once a fortnight.
The Corps has many other attractions, one of which is the Flying Scholarship. The scholarship offers training until the cadet acquires his Private Pilot's licence.
The Annual Camp is an affair always anxiously waited for. It brings together cadets of the Penang, Perak and Selangor Squadrons for ten days. At this year's Camp we are going to miss the Penang and Perak Squadrons for they have been disbanded.
The V.I. cadets form the "A" Flight which has formed a major part of the ATC. But due to the resignations of older cadets, our strength has been reduced to 28 cadets only. As a result, there are only three NCOs in the V.I. Flight.
They are:Sgt Alias Shariff
Sgt Low Choo Poh
Sgt N. Rajendran
To supplement our reduced strength, 25 boys have been recruited and we hope they will turn out to be good and successful cadets under the able guidance of F/O E. J. Lawrence and Mr. V. Manuel.
Parade inspection by Deputy Prime Minister, Dato' Abdul Razak (1961)
At present, the ATC is preparing for the "Fiesta Parade" and the Fourth Merdeka Anniversary Parade to be held at the Merdeka Stadium.
Sgt Alias Shariff
The aim of the FMATC is not only to provide a solid foundation for our air-minded youths who intend to secure a career in our young but rapidly expanding Air Force or in civil aviation, but also to train other youths to better citizens of our nation.
The present Headquarters of No. 1 Squadron, FMATC lies on a hill immediately opposite and behind the K. L. International Airport and commands a panoramic view of the 6,200 ft. runway and most parts of the Royal Malayan Air Force base. This provides a very suitable atmosphere for training, especially with the activities of arriving and departing aircraft as a natural background.
Parades are held on Tuesday afternoons and Sunday mornings. Training is varied and falls under two main categories:Foot and Rifle drill
Lectures given to cadets include Theory of Flight, Aircraft Recognition, Morse Code, Map Reading, Security, and Elementary Meteorology.
In addition, pilots of the RMAF and the Malayan Airways occasionally give lectures, the former on the various aircraft used by RMAF. On the average, the total number of hours of attendance each year is about 220.
The FMATC has always had a reputation for smart turnouts on special parades and this was proudly upheld last year when the cadets took part in three important parades. These were the Pesta Youth Festival Parade, the Merdeka Parade, and the Remembrance Day parade. It is now up to the new cadets to maintain this fine reputation on future parades.
Last December we had our annual ten days camp at the RMAF base in K. L. where the cadets experienced fully an airman's life. The cadets received intensive training during those ten days, including visits to the hangars and to the RMAF Technical and Flying Training School to see the airmen at work. This was climaxed when our cadets flew in the Doves, Twin Pioneers, and the Cessna 310D's of the RMAF to places like Klang and Port Swettenham and back. All in all, the camp was enjoyed by everyone.
The Malayan Air Training Corps in Singapore annually invites two representatives from the FMATC to attend their ten-day camp where cadets from Australia, New Zealand and India are also invited. This year two cadets were recommended to represent the V.I. Flight. They were Flt Sgt Rajendran and Cpl Quah Chek Jwee. The former was chosen.
The success of the FMATC can be seen in that most of the officers of the RMAF were former members of the Air Training Corps. Two of our cadets who were V.I. boys have distinguished themselves lately. One was our former Flt Sgt Bhaskar G. Raye who was one of the few selected for pilot training in the Indian Air Force out of the 12,000 men who sat for the preliminary examinations - an achievement indeed!
The other was our former Cpl Maniam Nadesan who is now a Pilot Officer in the RMAF. He was selected to attend a pilot training course in New Zealand which started in July.
The present strength of the V.I. Flight consists of 45 cadets and NCOs. The N.C.O.'s are:Flt Sgt N. Rajendran
Flt Sgt Goh Kong Teng
Sgt. George Thirumany
Cpl Chong Teck Min
Cpl Kwan Lin Kun
Cpl Quah Chek Jwee
Our flight has lost the valuable services rendered by P/O Dorai Raj who has been transferred. At present we have only one commissioned officer attached to the V.I. flight. He is F/O E. J. Lawrence, the Adjutant of the Corps, who is assisted by Cadet Officer V. Manuel.
We would like to thank the officers for their part in maintaining the discipline of the Corps.
N. Rajendran, Flt Sgt
This year the cadets were given training which emphasised the practical side of things. Lectures on Theory of Flight and Aircraft Recognition were given with an eye towards questions likely to be asked at interviews for training in the Air Force. Through the kind permission of Major Wong, NCOs from the Territorial Army taught the cadets how to strip Bren Guns and Browning Automatic pistols, among other things. Major Wong himself gave talks to the boys in jungle fighting tactics adopted against the terrorists during the Emergency, together with lectures on the various armaments, and the boys were also shown the new self-loading rifle from Belgium.
Training also included practical sessions and the cadets were given a chance to fly with the air crews of the RMAF. Night flying was an added attraction and is available to the cadets weekly. Cross-country flights during the day were also undertaken and some lucky ones had flown as far north as Kota Bharu, while recently two cadets flew down to Singapore. In this respect our cadets are very fortunate when compared with other organisations. Range practices were also conducted and apart from a few bruised shoulders there were smiles all round!
Two big parades are in store this year. The first has already taken place. This was a combined parade with the RMAF Volunteer Reserve which was a farewell parade to the Chief of Air Staff, Group Captain Stacey. The cadets were entertained to a cocktail and dance after the parade. The second parade will be the Malaysia Day parade. A special contingent of 13 cadets will take part in the morning parade at the Merdeka Stadium together with the regulars while the main part of the Corps will take part in the evening parade on Malaysia Day at the Children's Rally. The usual high standard of drill will no doubt be maintained.
As usual this year, two cadets were selected to represent the FMATC at the camp organised by the Air Training Corps in Singapore, and the cadet chosen from the V.I. Flight was Cpl. Quah. They flew down to Seletar in a RMAF Dove and while there each had a chance to fly Meteor jets. The activities organised by the MATC in Singapore included visits to Woodlands naval base and Changi by RAF launch, a fire-fighting display in which a disused Shackleton bomber was set alight, range practice with Brens, jet engine experience with a Vampire trainer, and helicopter flights, among the various visits to the parts of the air base. While there, they met cadets from New Zealand, Australia and India and a lot was learned about the corps in their countries.
Once again this year, two of our V.I. air cadets have passed the most rigorous of tests to be commissioned in the Air Force. First is former Cpl Lim Beng Huat, who is now a Pilot Officer undergoing pilot training in New Zealand. Next is our former Flight-Sergeant Goh Kong Teng who has been accepted as a Pilot Officer in the RMAF Volunteer Reserve and is also undergoing pilot-training. He thus achieves the rare distinction of being one of the few boys who have received a commission while still in school. Best wishes to both our pilots!
It can be seen that though under strength; we have achieved a considerable amount of practical training, and activities were arranged successfully in spite of difficulties. Indecision as to whether the Corps should exist wholly or be split up into school units has resulted in there being no recruitment for the past two years. However, with the formation of Malaysia, rapid expansion of the Corps is anticipated and closer ties with our fellow cadets across the Causeway is feasible in the near future.
The strength of the V.I. Flight at present is 25. The NCOs are:Acting Sergeant Quah Chek Jwee
Cpl Kwan Lin Kan
We would like to thank our officers, F/O Lawrence and P/O Manuel for helping to keep up the discipline and good behaviour of our cadets.
Quah Chek Jwee, Acting Sgt
The activities this year have been very much reduced because of existing indecision as regards the future of the Corps. It is anticipated that recruitment will begin next year and the Corps will be expanded to link up the major schools of Malaysia.
Despite the lack of organised activities, the cadets have managed to log a creditable 39 hours of flying. This year we had opportunities to fly in the Herald and Heron transport aircraft and the Alouette helicopters which have just been acquired by the RMAF in addition to the usual Twin Pioneer and Dove flights. We would like to thank the RMAF for extending such privileges to us.
Speech Day this year had a special significance for us as we were honoured by a visit from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Commodore C.S.J. West who landed on our school field in an Alouette helicopter. The helicopter was a major exhibit put up by the ATC and attracted many curious spectators. Besides this, we put up exhibits of flying gear and survival kits while the third Annual Open Aircraft-Recognition Competition was conducted successfully. We would like to thank Aviation Services (Malaysia) Ltd for their gift of the aviation literature and aircraft models which were put on display.
Our cadets took part in a major parade this year on the occasion of the Birthday of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. His Majesty inspected the guard of honour and, despite our reduced numbers, our cadets made up for it with their smartness and efficiency.
The two cadets selected to attend the annual camp organised by the Malayan Air Training Corps in Singapore this year were Sgt George Thirumany and AC 2 Abdul Manap. In addition to cadets from India, Australia and New Zealand, they met cadets from the U.K. A novel feature this year was a flying tour of Singapore Island made in a Cessna aircraft of the Singapore Flying Club. The cadets had flying experience in Beverleys, Whirlwind helicopters and Pioneer Aircraft. We would like to express our thanks to the MATC for the hospitality accorded to our cadets.
Our strength at present stands at 18. The NCOs are:-Acting Sgt Quah Chek Jwee
Corporal Kwan Lin Kun
We would like to express our gratitude for the guidance given to us by our officers, Flying Officer E.J. Lawrence and Pilot Officer V. Manuel.
Quah Chek Jwee, Acting Sgt
Reminiscences of some former Air Cadets
ATC attendance was somewhat of a disappointment for me. I had anticipated learning a whole lot about flying and having experiences with flying. Instead, most Sunday mornings were spent on the parade ground drilling and marching. I regarded these repetitive drills a real chore and mindless exercise.
The most productive time was when five or so of us were selected to have some flying training. In all we had two or three lessons which amounted to about half hour to one hour of flight training time for each. I enjoyed this first new experience in a Tiger Moth. The first time I went up, I thought I was going to fall off each time the plane banked to do a turn because the cockpit was open. When the plane banked to the right, I would lean over to the left to counteract the action of the plane! It certainly did not make any difference because we were strapped in - so when I got used to the plane after some time, I did have the courage to look out to have a look at the view below. It was an exhilarating experience.
The other memorable occasion was when all cadets had a chance to go to camp in Singapore. We had a chance to meet cadets from the whole country. There were various activities including visits to different bases - naval as well as air bases - in Singapore. I left the ATC after Form 5 or Lower 6 because I did not feel that I was getting much more out of it.
Krishna Rajaratnam (1953-1959)
My interest in aeronautics led me to join the ATC as I was already a keen aeromodeller then. We were issued with a uniform each, and boots and a beret which I wore proudly. Uniforms had to be clean and properly ironed when we wore them on parade. I loved those boots - they were of good quality leather. We were taught how to polish our boots. It was essential to get a glossy shine on them or you could incur disciplinary action if they were not up to par during inspections at drills and parades.
Drills were held every Sunday morning until around lunch time. They were held at the ATC quarters at the old KL airport where the RAF was also stationed. So every Sunday morning, smartly dressed in starchy uniform and beret, I would cycle all the way from my home in Lower Ampang Road to what is now the old K.L. airport to attend drills, parades and inspections. (Sometimes, the drills were held at the school grounds.) After that we attended indoor sessions/classes in which we were taught aeronautical subjects, like how an aeroplane flies, aeronautical terms, aircraft recognition, morse code and map reading. My aeromodelling experience came in very handy indeed. After these indoor sesssions, it was back into the hot sun again for more drills and parades before being dismissed.
One of the best perks of being in the ATC was the opportunity to get free joy rides on aircraft of the Royal Air Force which was stationed at K.L. airport at that time. To get a free ride in an RAF plane, you simply donned your uniform and turned up at any one of the RAF flight mission stations at the airport and requested a ride. Your chances of getting a ride depended on whether or not there were flights scheduled for that day, the nature of the flight mission and on the discretion of the pilot himself.
My first flight was on a Valetta aircraft that was on a propaganda leaflet dropping mission to a jungle area in Negri Sembilan. On another occasion, I boarded a Dakota DC3 aircraft that was on a voice broadcast mission to another jungle area in Negri Sembilan. On both occasions, the missions were to urge the Communist Party members to surrender. I also managed to obtain a helicopter ride on a routine flight to a nearby base and back. Thus my long and arduous Sunday bicycle journeys to K.L. airport were well rewarded!
I also recall Sgt N. P. Doshi and Balwant Singh but mostly I recall the Raye twins - Bhaskar and Dibakar - who were one year below me. They were really keen about a career in the air force and thus excelled in the ATC. They had become Flight Sergeant and Sergeant respectively by the time I left the ATC at the end of 1959.
Outstation cadets billeted at the V.I. enjoy a sing-along with Kor Voon (1958)
The 1958 ATC Annual Parade was held in the V.I. in, I think, August. It was a day long affair which kicked off with a formal parade and march past followed by sessions on aeronautical/air force subjects, etc. In between these were leisure activities. Some cadets flew model planes and, in my case, I had a jam session with outstation cadets in a V.I. classroom where I was billeting with them. A certain amount of bonding certainly took place in these annual events.
Lee Kor Voon (1955-1959)
I tried to join in the ATC in Form 2 but the powers that be decided I was too young. Therefore I joined when I was in Form 4. By that time the ATC was beginning to decline but I did attend one of the annual camps and was scheduled to go fly just like the rest but I was in the last batch and when our turn came, for some reason they cancelled the flying. Maybe it was getting late. Of course I was pissed off.
When I was in Lower 6, I and another ATC cadet, Wong Ah Kum, a Form 4 boy, hit upon an idea. One Saturday, dressed in our uniforms, we went down to Sungei Besi at 7.30 a.m., went into the Operations Room, saluted the officer in charge and asked if we could go flying in one of the training flights. To our surprise, we were allowed to, in a Twin Pioneer doing circuits. After this both of us then decided to go for broke and so, during the school holidays, we would go down to the air base two or three times a week, ask for flights and, four times out of five, we got to go up!
This went on during 1963 and Ah Kum and I racked up about 60 hours each in the Twin Pioneer, Dove, Devon, the Cessna, Herald, Provost (for a night flight) and a couple of helicopter flights. We flew down to Seletar and Changi, had the best roti prata (roti chanai in Malaysia) that I have ever had, had lunch in Changi Village, and flew back up along the coast, on what seemed like an anti-piracy patrol. Another time, we went to Taiping, picked up supplies and flew on to a jungle fort in North Perak (Fort Betis, I think) where there was an Orang Asli settlement and a Police Field Force camp, had lunch there and then flew back to KL.
One flight we missed was supposed to be on a Herald to Kuching, when we got off-loaded at the last minute. We found out later that the plane was going to pick up and bring back bodies of Malaysian soldiers killed there (remember it was Confrontation then in 1963). Basically, we got to go to various jungle strips and towns in Johor, Pahang and Malacca on training flights. Those were the good old days!
Ah Kum went on to become an RMAF Twin Pioneer pilot and a flying instructor but left after five or six years and is now a desk-bound cost accountant with British Airways in London!
N. Ganesan (1958-1964)
Ganesan and Goh Kong Teng, I remember, were in senior ranks. I must say I did not enjoy myself too much in the ATC and I think I did faint on the Parade Grounds on one occasion. What a hero!
Venu Sarma (1958-1964)
In my view most people who joined ATC must have harboured an interest in flying, whether in the air force or private sector. I know I once hoped to join the air force, for while in the MU I joined the RMAFVR to train as a pilot, and did fly solo. But I later decided to go into the law and left for the UK. Ganesan joined the RMC to train as an air force officer, but then decided to leave to pursue higher education instead. I remember Ganesan and myself going on occasional night flights on air force planes while in the ATC. I feel fairly sure Kong Teng and Chek Jwee must have done the same too. The planes then available for such joy rides were mainly Twin Pioneers, Doves and the occasional Herald. Goh Kong Teng rose to be a sergeant, and Chek Jwee probably, too.
Swaran Ludher (right) at Annual Camp with cadets from Technical Institute and SJI (1961)
The ATC was disbanded about 1964. I left the ATC at the end of 1963. I don't know why the disbandment occurred, but it may have had something to do with the closure or relocation of the Malay Residential School which comprised one of the three contingents of the KL ATC.
Swaran Ludher (1958-1964)
In the glory days (around 1960 and earlier) there were three squadrons that formed the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps, one each in Penang (Technical Institute), Ipoh (either Anderson School or St Michaels) and KL (comprising boys from V.I. and St Johns). We used to have annual camps when we all moved into an air force base for about two weeks and flew in the aircraft of the nascent Royal Malaysian Air Force. I was fortunate enough to be one of two cadets selected to represent the FMATC at Singapore's ATC camp at Seletar air base and scored a flight in a Meteor jet trainer (a tandem seater). Those were exciting times!
Sad to say the wise (??) ones in authority (who deserve to be taken up to 10,000 ft and made to sky jump without parachutes) decided at some stage to terminate the ATC's existence. The actual year when it happened is a bit hazy - probably 1963 or earlier.
Quah Chek Jwee (1959-1965)
Last update: April 21, 2008.
Compiler: Chung Chee Min