Forgotten Names Recalled: The Singapore Cenotaph Project

16/08/14
It's report time for the National Heritage Board Participation Grant, which is a short list of submissions for the second tranche (their word) of the award. The third and final will be next January, so I can top up the huge hole in my bank account by a little bit at least.

Surprisingly I have to supply photos of the book launch, and any other event held between now and January for the final payment. So here they are.

  The corridor outside the Chamber in the Arts House has a semi-permanent table set up so it was just a matter of arriving and unpacking. Do you like our homemade sign? The frame cost $2 from Daiso, were everything costs $2. We budget well.





  Speech time. That's me delivering one of my three five-minute talks, which you can read in an earlier blog. It was the first time I'd spoken in the Chamber, which used to be the parliament and before that, at the time of the First World War, the court house. The Chief Justice of the day made a speech, possibly from the same spot, on the sad loss to Singapore and its legal fraternity following the death of Major Harold Millard.

  Rosanne Woodmansee (Rosie) told us about ANZAC Day, its origins and how it was a part of her growing up. Rosie then talked about Wyatt Rawson, whose father was Sir Harry Rawson, Governor of New South Wales from 1902 to 1909. Then she told us about Hugh Tregarthen's famous grandfather, the Hon Sir William M Manning member of the Australian Legislative Council and Chancellor of the University of Sydney where Manning House was named after him.
  Pierre Lee, who gives classes in public speaking, blew us away with his wonderful delivery of his experiences researching the Frenchmen of the cenotaph. The difficulties with the official French websites, which seem to enjoy the hide-and-seek format of web design. The flowing old-fashioned handwriting on official documents that is practically indecipherable nowadays. A quote in French -- Pierre is tri-lingual -- and then well-deserved applause.
  I followed on again and told the audience that Pierre was a beneficiary of the French and Irish educational institutions established in Singapore by missionaries. We had two former principals of Catholic Junior College, Pierre's alma mater, in the audience: Sister Deirdre O'Loan (2nd from left) and Sister Maria Lau (2nd from right). Louise Clarke, the great-niece of Cecil Clarke, is on the right and Cormac Hynes from the Irish Embassy is on the left with Sister Theresa in the middle.
  The finale, so to speak, was presenting a copy of the book to a relative of one of the men listed on the Singapore cenotaph. Dr Julian Davison has lived in Singapore most of his life. His mother was born here and her mother was born her. Robert Morris was the older brother of Julian's maternal grandmother and he accepted the book on behalf of his family and all the families of the men listed on the Singapore cenotaph. He spoke briefly about his grandmother's recollections of Robbie, 'a lovely boy'.
  The three writers with #LestWeForget sign that should be posted to InstaGram once I've set up an account. I'm sorry to say the following day I received several belated apologies from people whose excuse was 'I forgot'. One of them was a priest. If they'd just been honest and said, 'It's an awkward time on a Sunday and I won't be able to go' it would have been ok. 'Forget' has a strong meaning in connection with a WW1 project. They showed themselves up by using it.
  Book-signing was going on before and after the speeches. Pierre and Rosie were quite thrilled by this. They thought no one would ask them but there turned out to be quite a queue.

Very grateful to all the people who turned up on a Sunday afternoon because they were really interested. It was a small audience but being interested in the subject meant at lot to me, having spent 20 months now on this project.
 
Rosemary Lim