Saturday, September 22, 2007

3RD DOOR IN CHARLIE COY IN TEKONG (note: this was taken from a circulating email)

It is a well-known fact that Pulau Tekong has a number of ghost cases.Some of you readers may have read or heard about the ghost at Charlie Company at the old basic military camp one. Unfortunately, some versions that I read or heard have been distorted over the years. Here, I hope to set the record straight. Instructors and trainees of Charlie Company, Infantry Training Depot during the March-June 1983 period can vouch for my version of the story. It is NOT my intention to revive hurtful memories especially for the bereaved family or to blame anyone, but purely to narrate facts as they had happened. The starting point of this true story should be the 16 Km route march about 20 years ago. Before the march, the Officer Commanding of the company asked the trainees whether anyone was sick or not feeling well.No one put up his hand. But there was a trainee among the company,Recruit Tham W.K., who was down with flu but did not put up his hand. Then the route march started. The platoons took turns to lead the company after each break during the route march. Sometimes, the pace of the march became too hot for some trainees, who could not keep pace and had to fall out. They became stragglers and had to be picked up by a few instructors walking at the rear of the company. The landrover with the medical orderly was also supposed to be at the rear. Somehow, Tham fell out and managed to slip out of view by taking cover in the forest. He was not to be seen alive again. During subsequent rest breaks, there were head-counts. He was presumed to be with the medical orderly. It was only in the evening after the route march, when the the rifles were due to be returned to the armoury, that they realised Tham was missing. They went to the medical centre but he was not there. The instructors feared the worst. Overnight, they organised a night-search party for him, re-tracing the 16-Km route taken earlier in the day. They could not find him. The next day, the entire Camp I ceased training and batches of instructors and trainees were dispatched to find Tham. It was only about 5 p.m. that his own platoon commander (PC) found his corpse. Near a forest track junction, the PC noticed a half-pictched tent. He called out but there was no response. As he neared the tent, he noticed many flies buzzing around and detected a foul stench. There lay before him his dead trainee, lying with one hand holding his rifle and the other hand outstretched with a water bottle, with its cover opened. The PC broke down in tears and wept openly. (A subsequent post-mortem showed that Tham had apparently died of stomach rupture. When his body system was still hot from the heat of the route march, against the advice of instructors, he had apparently gulped down massive amounts of water suddenly. It was like pouring ice cubes into a thin glass of hot water, which can cause the glass to crack. But the post mortem also found puncture marks on his body, which could not be satisfactorily explained to this day.) It was left to the Company Sergeant Major and his landrover driver to drive the corpse back to camp for transfer to the mortuary. It was twilight at that time. Inexplicably, the engine could not start. The thought of the two of them spending the night with the corpse unnerved them. But eventually, they somehow had the engine started and returned safely to base. The late Tham was promoted to rank of Corporal(Non-Commission-Officer) and cremated at Mount Vernon with full military honours. As the company trainees lined the road snaking up to the crematorium to salute our late comrade, it was a heart-breaking sight to see a distraught mother being supported by two daughters following the hearse. A few instructors returned to the site where he departed from this world, to offer incense and prayers. One instructor asked the late Tham not to come back and haunt us, but rather to express his last wishes in a dream so that his soul could rest in peace after his wishes were fulfilled. But Tham did not listen. Incident 1: One of the instructors came to the Platoon 9 bunk to remove his personal effects. When he opened up his metal cupboard, there was a foul stench from inside that could not be explained. Incident 2: In the dead of the night, some trainees of Charlie Company heard Tham's voice shouting for the platoon or company to fall in at the common company compound. Incident 3 (more scary): One of the platoon 9 section mates woke up in the middle of the night and saw the white figure of Tham's ghost standing in front of his former cupboard ! He bolted to the next double-decker bed, grabbed to share his blanket and said "ghost!" The next morning, the platoon mates could see two trainees pale and ashened by the encounter. Incident 4: During one of the subsequent route marches (by Golf Company), the company noticed a figure of a soldier in full battle order standing in the distance among some trees. The OC (a former Commando Captain) dashed forward to take a closer look. He quickly ordered the whole company to double past without slowing down to see what he saw. Subsequent route marches were diverted to avoid that area of sighting. It's been a long time since I last set foot on Pulau Tekong in June 1983. But I heard that the bunk in which the late Tham used was converted into a lecture room and subsequently into a store room. The room was installed with padlocked doors for obvious reasons. Over the years, generations of trainees who became instructors passed down their version of Tham's story by word of mouth, which unfortunately got distorted in the process. May his soul rest in peace. " here's a follow-up... "Another sources : From a MT-WO(Military Transport Warrant Officer), who happened to be one of the bunk mates of that poor guy. "It happened in the 80s when there were some kampongs on Tekong, and the camp was known as ITD (Infantry Training Depot). The (chinese) guy was sick, but he was 'told' to join the march. The march was along the perimeter of the island. During a break, we found the guy disappeared. Thought the guy might be sleeping at one of the previous resting points, a few of us backtracked and found him - near the hotspring (FYI- there is one hotspring at northen part of Tekong - a dense swampy area with a lot of dead frogs(?)found) with the bigger end of his 'chang-ko'(a small spade for trench-digging) stick seemed thrusted into his chest." "The guy was wrapped in groundsheet (a big green, polyethene sheet). Because the body had to be examined by investigating officers before removal to mainland, and they only arrived by next morning, we had to brought him back to our bunk and placed on his bed for one night. From that night onwards, we encountered occasional ghostly sounds & smells in the bunk, and his buddy had nightmares of the dead guy asking something from him. After much complains, the officers decided to bring in the resident Taoist priest to solve the situation. After performing a ritual, the priest said that the spirit of the guy was trapped in the bunk because both doors of the bunk were blocked by holy powers (FYI, for those who lived in Camp 1 bunks may noticed there were small triangular plates on top of every doors. It is said that these triangular plates were blessed by the four major religions to prevent you-know-what from entering the bunks) and cannot exit from the bunk to go to the 'other' world. The priest proposed a third doorway to be made at the most 'yin'(darkest) part of the bunk, which happened to be the middle of the wall, just for the spirit to have a 'direct' exit to the other world.(in other words, that door supposed to be a gateway to netherworld!!) and no living men should use it. That's how the third door came about." Unfortunately, the third door did not mark the end of the ghostly encounters, as hauntings still reported from at the bunk. My first-hand experience with this special bunk, which was converted into a storeroom, was during rehearsal for the pass-out parade. Four of us saw the light inside the bunk flicked on & off once (the CSM just said something wrong with electricity) before we went in the locked bunk to draw out some stores. Inside I saw the third door, which was just a wooden board with hinges at its side, no doorknob and was padlocked. Just before we left the bunk we heard someone moaned softly behind us, but no one there.... "

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