New Zealands Wind Down in Singapore


Verified Military
Sep 7, 2006
They pulled out finally in 1989, the final parade was conducted while I was on my basic training...

A great shame and a blow to the NZ Army IMO.

I love the guys parading sans shirts, very Kiwi! :D

[ame=""]YouTube - New Zealand Infantry in Singapore - 1RNZIR (1987)[/ame]
In the New Zealand Army, parade grounds are sacred.
A parade ground in Dieppe barracks in Singapore has a couple of Indian soldiers buried under it from WW2, this is the basis of deep reverence for our parade grounds.

We Will Remember Them.
I was told that it was because the men who have gone before them have all been on the parade ground at one point in time (before they shipped off to war).

We were lucky enough to have drill lessons on the parade ground at Trentham under army instruction.
I'll miss them. So sad to hear that they left.

I had a fun day of telematch with them back in the 80s. Here is my account of that day, taken from my memoirs:


The well-organised telematch had many events. But I remembered the tug-of-war most of all. Some teams comprised NZ soldiers only while others had a combination of NZ and Singaporean soldiers. (As the hosts, the NZ soldiers outnumbered us). None of the teams were all-Singaporean. Such a team would be every other team’s whipping boys. I considered this arrangement to be fair. It wasn’t a Singapore versus NZ telematch, but a friendly telematch.

Obviously, I was in a mixed team. The leader of our team was a NZ soldier, who was most probably a warrant officer. He was bald, stout even by Caucasian standards, and older than most of us, possibly in his early to mid 30s. What struck me most about him was the enthusiasm in his attitude and voice. His instructions were loud and clear, “now mates, once you hear the word “GO”, pull immediately with all your might; no delay at all; we are smaller than them; so that’s our only chance, to win with the first momentum; everyone got it?” As he spoke, he waved his arms and clenched his fists to emphasize his points and to spur us on.

We understood. We had five big fellows and five small ones, but most of the other teams had ten big fellows. Our only chance was to be the first to pull quickly. In military terms - a quick first strike! In a protracted struggle, we would be at a disadvantage.

The opposing team appeared. An all NZ team – 10 big guys. But we were ready. “Remember what we are supposed to do, men!” our leader reminded us.

We grabbed the rope; they did the same. The teams faced each other. I was in the middle of our team. The referee, a NZ soldier, raised his arm, held it for a few seconds, and brought it down swiftly, shouting “GO”.

We pulled immediately as planned, without hesitation, like a sprinter off his or her blocks. The sudden and quick momentum pulled us backwards a few inches. Our tactic was working! The other team appeared to be startled by the sudden strong pull. However, being stronger, they quickly recovered. We started losing ground, slowly but surely; we lost the few inches we had initially gained. I continued to pull with all my might, but it was no use. We eventually lost. We were overpowered.

Our great leader hadn’t lost any of his enthusiasm though. “See how successful our first pull was”, he said, “it caught them off guard; we still have another tug-of-war coming; so don’t lose heart; we still have another chance; we’ll do the same thing but let’s pull even harder at the sound of “GO”.” His enthusiasm, optimism and confidence were infectious. He was a great leader and motivator.

We shouted confidently “yes, WO”.

The 2nd team arrived, another all-NZ team. “GO!” We pulled hard and this time our tactic worked perfectly. The opposing team hadn’t had time to recover. A great upset victory. It was like Portsmouth beating the mighty Manchester United.

As we shook hands with the opposing team members, there was one particularly huge and muscular guy. I shook his massive hand, which dwarfed mine. Later, I asked a teammate, “did you see that muscular guy?” My teammate noticed the man’s huge muscles too. “I wondered how we were still able to win” I said. I felt satisfied that we had beaten a team that had one guy so huge and muscular. We must have done something right. But the third match was similar to the first. We lost and were therefore out of the competition. “Good effort, men” said our leader.

Going Home

As the day drew to a close, the telematch ended. I wish it could go on forever. I wish we weren't going back to the Home of the Commandos. Why wasn’t the telematch a week long instead of just a day?

As I sat in our 3-tonner, heading back to our camp, I gazed at the beautiful setting sun. I recalled the various games we played, especially the tug of war. I felt the friendliness and hospitality of the NZ soldiers again. I heard the enthusiastic pep talk of the NZ warrant officer. I felt his confidence permeating my body again.

All these took place just hours ago. But now I felt as though they had taken placed a long time ago, in a far away land, in New Zealand itself. The 3-tonner rolled on, along a long lonely road. The sun had set; it was getting dark. Shadows of trees and telephone poles lengthened. I thanked God for the merry men of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the enthusiastic warrant officer, and the fun welcome break from our training.
Cool story.

I only meet Singaporean troops once in NZ, they stopped me in the middle of the base and wanted to swap something for the boots I was wearing. lol

Leaving Singapore was a nail in the coffin of the NZDF.