The Boys' Brigade - 1st Singapore Company

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Founder of the Boys' Brigade in Singapore

The Boys' Brigade was introduced to Singapore by James Milner Fraser, an architect from Britain. He was a former member of the 23rd Aberdeen and the 33rd London Companies.

On 12 January 1930, Fraser started the 1st Singapore Company at Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church. With the aid of ex-Sergeant Quek Eng Moh of the 1st Swatow Company, he assembled 12 local Boys to form the company.

Progress was slow initially, but by the time the company was officially enrolled at Brigade Headquarters in London, in August 1930, the membership had risen to 40. The company chaplain was Reverend William Murray and Fraser's lieutenants were John McNeish (formerly of 76th Glasgow) and Dong Chui Sing. Bible class, drill, concerts, wayfaring signalling, first aid, swimming, fencing, tumbling and other forms of physical recreation formed the core of the Boys' Brigade syllabus.

In the following year, the first camp was held at the Singapore Volunteer Camp at Siglap. A successful inspection was also held to bring the session to a close.

Extension soon followed, spearheaded by McNeish with the formation of the 2nd Singapore Company at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church in February 1931.

By 1936, the Singapore Battalion was 200-strong, with the 3rd Singapore (1933) started at the Anglo-Chinese Continuation School, the 5th Singapore (1934) at Choon Guan Presbyterian Boys School, 4th Singapore (1934) at Geylang Methodist Church and the 6th Singapore (1934) at Paya Lebar Methodist Church.

The Battalion Colors were presented to the battalion by F. C. Sands in 1936 and the drill competition was introduced. Fraser served as the Battalion President from 1936 to 1956. In 1940, he handed the captaincy of the 1st Singapore over to one of his Boys, S. P. Chua.

During the war years of 1942 to 1945, The Boys' Brigade's activities were suspended. To avoid desecration, the prized Singapore Colors were destroyed, but some of the coveted drums were stored away in a room at Prinsep Headquarters.

After the war, S. P. Chua revived the 1st Singapore Company. He was joined immediately by Fraser and by 1950, the Battalion had regained its old strength.

By 1968, there were 28 companies in Singapore. In 1971, the Brigade had the distinguished honor of having the President of the Republic of Singapore as its Patron. The Brigade continues to grow today.

Also see:

Founder of the Boys' Brigade

Our Honourary Captain

 

 

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