My grandfather, a war hero

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/6652e773-0025-41b6-aa83-03bcc0c03789/People-CFC_A_Tay.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-6652e773-0025-41b6-aa83-03bcc0c03789-mAzFqSv /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/6652e773-0025-41b6-aa83-03bcc0c03789/People-CFC_A_Tay.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-6652e773-0025-41b6-aa83-03bcc0c03789-mAzFqSv /web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2019-Q1/feb19_people
/web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2019-Q1/feb19_people
feb19_people
01 Feb 2019 | PEOPLE

My grandfather, a war hero

// Story Koh Eng Beng

// Photos Chai Sian Liang & Courtesy of CFC (NS) Tay

English 华文
1-UP-B-caption

A volunteer soldier who died at the hands of the Japanese during World War II — his sacrifice inspired his grandson, Corporal First Class (CFC) (NS) Andrew Tay, to continue serving as a citizen soldier today.

Bakayaro (“idiot” in Japanese)! Where are the British supporters and Chinese Nationalists?”

A squad of Japanese soldiers yelled as they went door-to-door, brandishing their rifles with bayonets attached.

Terrified, someone raised his hand and pointed next door.

The soldiers then stormed into that house. They dragged out a young man, ignoring the pleas from his wife to let him go.

That young man was Corporal (CPL) Tay Tiang Wah, a soldier in the Straits Settlement Volunteer Force (SSVF). This would be the last time his wife saw him. His body was never found. He was likely executed, along with thousands of others during the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945.

In recognition of his sacrifice and contributions to the war effort, the British later awarded a scroll and four medals to CPL Tay posthumously.

The medals and scroll awarded to CFC (NS) Tay’s grandfather in recognition of his sacrifice and contributions to the war effort.

Family inspiration

This story was recounted by CFC (NS) Tay at the Kranji War Memorial, where his grandfather’s name is inscribed alongside the names of other war heroes.

His late grandfather is the reason why the 47-year-old continues to serve as a citizen soldier today, despite having already completed his National Service (NS) duties in 2013.

“We don’t want to get to the point where everyone becomes complacent about defence. We don’t need another war to create more heroes.”

According to a historian, his grandfather likely served in the SSVF Headquarters at Beach Road, but his role and responsibilities were not known, CFC (NS) Tay added.

Strong commitment

An owner and director of a hotel in Cambodia, CFC (NS) Tay is based there with his wife and three children. They have a seven-year-old boy and two girls, aged five and two.

Despite the distance, the Company Quarter Master of Headquarters, 56th Singapore Armoured Brigade, makes it a point to fly back to Singapore for all in-camp training sessions, even for briefings that last only half a day.

He also put in place NS-friendly policies in his company, such as providing Singaporean staff with free gym membership as well as incentives for completing NS duties.

Even though he is based in Cambodia, CFC (NS) Tay returns to Singapore every year with his family to attend the SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony.

Inspiring the next generation

CFC (NS) Tay, who is also the grandnephew of war hero Lim Bo Seng, first heard about his grandfather from his grandmother when he was a secondary school student.

“At that point, it wasn’t so impactful. But when I got older and served my NS, it started to dawn on me more and more the importance of this piece of history.”

Before the photoshoot with PIONEER began at Kranji War Memorial, a group of officer cadets arrived for a visit. CFC (NS) Tay walked towards them, and gave an impromptu talk about his grandfather.

Asked why he spoke to the cadets, CFC (NS) Tay said: “In my earlier days, I served out of duty. Nowadays, the terror threat has come so close to home.

“I want to help the next generations to understand (that) we should always be prepared.”

CFC (NS) Tay sharing his grandfather’s story with officer cadets who happened to be visiting the Kranji War Memorial.
CFC (NS) Tay with his platoon mates from his full-time national service days in 46 SAR.

During his younger days, CFC (NS) Tay served in 433rd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (433 SAR). An armoured infantry trooper, he operated the 84mm recoilless rifle as a loader.

He remembers well the tough days where he had to carry the 84mm rounds which weighed over 3kg each.

On Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day, which falls on the first of July each year, CFC (NS) Tay returns to Singapore with his wife and children, and brings them to the SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony.

It is an event where national servicemen gather to reaffirm their pledge of loyalty and dedication to Singapore and the SAF.

The reason?

“I want my son to know that we are Singaporeans, and (that) one day he has to serve NS.

“I want him to know that this is an important part of being Singaporean.”

Suggested Reading
SAFVC turns 5, volunteer force 900-strong Feature
SAFVC turns 5, volunteer force 900-strong
COMMUNITY
17-Feb-20

The formation marked its fifth anniversary this Total Defence Day.

S’pore unveils new Total Defence logo
S’pore unveils new Total Defence logo
PEOPLE
15-Feb-20

For the first time in 35 years, the Total Defence logo has a fresh, new look. The designer Samantha Teng shares her inspiration and message behind the new logo which incorporates Digital Defence.

A run to remember my brothers
A run to remember my brothers
PEOPLE
13-Feb-20

After losing two of his naval diver batch mates to cancer, 2LT (NS) Rohan Mathew Thomas wants to raise funds for young adults battling the disease by challenging himself to a 6,400km relay run across the US in 49 days.

From clerk to section leader
From clerk to section leader
PEOPLE
03-Feb-20

3rd Sergeant (3SG) Muhammad Noorhakim Bin Rozilan shares his journey of going through Basic Military Training (BMT) (twice!) to be fighting fit.

From obese to IPPT Gold & becoming NSF of the Year
From obese to IPPT Gold & becoming NSF of the Year
PEOPLE
17-Jan-20

When he entered Basic Military Training, Corporal First Class (CFC) (NS) Venkat Subramaniam was 108kg. His fitness was in the dumps and he would fail his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) with a 2.4km timing of 17min and 50s.

Eight tips to survive BMT
Eight tips to survive BMT
OPS & TRAINING
08-Jan-20

It’s like the first school term when you meet new friends, learn new skills and get used to the demands of your teachers (read: sergeants). We share eight tips to help you during Basic Military Training (BMT).

12 SAF acronyms you need to know Feature
12 SAF acronyms you need to know
OPS & TRAINING
07-Jan-20

For those who are enlisting, this explainer can save your weekends - and "face". It’s no secret that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is full of acronyms. Some are easily deciphered through common sense, while others take longer to decode.

BMTC encik answers questions on BMT & enlistment
Cover story
BMTC encik answers questions on BMT & enlistment
PEOPLE
06-Jan-20

What to bring for enlistment day? Is BMT 7 days a week? Is there WIFI in Tekong? Master Warrant Officer Thanimalai s/o Sockalingam, School Sergeant Major of Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) School 2, answers some of the most-Googled questions about enlistment and BMT.

Five people you’ll meet on enlistment day
Cover story
Five people you’ll meet on enlistment day
PEOPLE
03-Jan-20

They're here to welcome you to the first day of the rest of your life (in National Service or NS).

What is Basic Military Training?
What is Basic Military Training?
OPS & TRAINING
02-Jan-20

Basic Military Training, or BMT, is an initiation to the military for new recruits – you stay together in bunk, learn basic soldiering skills and adjust to the regimentation of a strict military lifestyle.