Spitfires in Singapore

A delightful discovery today, while browsing through the RAF Seletar Association web site. One of our current residents shares his father’s memories of life in Seletar in the early 1950s.

John’s letter to RAF Seletar web site

Peter’s journal

Some notes about Seletar Airbase from Wikipedia

RAF Seletar was a Royal Air Force station in Singapore between 1928 and 1971.

Plans for establishing an airfield, flying boat and naval base in Singapore were first agreed by the RAF in 1921. In 1923 two sites in the northern region of the island were approved. The first planes to arrive at the base were four Supermarine Southampton seaplanes on the 28th of February 1928.

RAF Seletar served as a civil airport from 1930 before the opening of Singapore’s first civil airport at Kallang on 12 June 1937 (to the late 1940s). The air base was briefly host to Amy Johnson during the May of 1930 on her UK – Australia flight in her Gipsy Moth named ‘Jason’.

As war clouds gathered over Singapore the RAF started building up their forces in the Far East in the late 1930s and early 1940s. When the Japanese launched their invasion of Malaya and Singapore Seletar housed the RAF’s 205 Sqn with Catalina Flying boats and 36 and 100 Sqns with obsolete Wildebeest torpedo bombers, along with 151 Maintenance Unit. These units stayed until Jan-Feb 1942, soon before the surrender to the invading Japanese

During the Japanese occupation Seletar was under the Imperial Japanese Navy, and a number of IJN squadrons were based or transited through there mainly, for training. Seletar’s present runway was built during the Japanese Occupation.

After World War 2 the base went back to the RAF, and in the late 1940s and 1950s the base was heavily involved in the Malayan Emergency, with Beaufighters, Spitfires and Mosquitos based there while operating against Malayan Communist insurgents.

During the 1960’s RAF Seletar’s Squadrons were involved with support of operations in North Borneo during the “Confrontation” with Indonesia. The helicopter squadrons provided a search and rescue service for the Singapore area. Seletar was handed over the Singapore Air Defence Command (later the Republic of Singapore Air Force) in 1971 after the British pullout.

Among Seletar’s claim to fame was the fact that several classic aircraft type flew their last RAF Operational sorties from there including the Spitfire (PR.XIX PS888 of 81 Sqn 1954) Mosquito (PR.34 RG314 of 81 Sqn 1955), Sunderland flying boat (ML797 205 Sqn 1959) and Beaufighter (TT.X RD761 Station Flight 1960)


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