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Home arrow News arrow Archive arrow War-time Experience of My Life:PRE-CLINK - Part 1
War-time Experience of My Life:PRE-CLINK - Part 1 Print E-mail


ImageThe war-time experience of my life can be neatly expressed in three areas – pre-clink, clink itself and post clink.The word clink conjures up confinement, tension, unfulfilled desires, frustration and for some, desperation. My pre-clink experience had a lot to do with clink. Community life in those far off days was really a life of confinement springing perhaps from shadows of cloistered life. The feelings of confinement, unfulfilled desires, frustration were very strong and in some cases brought about desperation leading to a withdrawal from the order or at least unconcealed resentment, rejection, criticism etc. etc. This kind of life could only be endured by those whose commitment to the Lssallian way of life was unqualified perserverance. There may have been a few cases of some who just stuck it out, but in a way best expressed in the well known lyrics -–"Whatever will be, will be” and plodded on living a life of mere tolerance and passivity, their talents unfulfilled.

The iron curtain around us began to be slightly shattered as rumblings of war extending from the battle fields and blasted cities of Europe became the talk of the day, inspite of the holy rule that defended the maxim, “Flee the world” news to leak out mainly from the clandestine contacts with our sympathetic lay partners and from wartime “extras” shouted by newspaper sellers as they raced through the streets, with news sheets fresh from the press under their arms.

The first real breakthrough or, shall I say break out, came when a special concession was that we could have contact with the newspapers – but a very limited contact. We gathered around the Brother Sub-Director’s desk, just a few minutes before supper and could listen to him reading out marked headlines. It’s hard to imagine how all this affected the considerable number of confrers who hailed from Czechoslavakia, Poland, Germany and the U.K. etc. The disastrous war-time events for the allied forces in Europe, deepened anxieties among those concerned and made our feeble preparations for what might be an Asian Front, meaningful. Among the feeble preparations I can think only of a few – the younger ones among us became air-raid-wardens. This was not exactly a burden, for it gave us  unprecedented opportunities to “hob-nob” with our lay teachers and neighbours on patrol. Patrols were from 8.00 p.m. to midnight, or midnight to 4.00 a.m. Of course there was a stiff price to pay. This price was that we carried on our normal community life i.e. rising 4.30 a.m. and all that followed. It is only fair to say however that none among us felt too disturbed about the final outcome – we had the impregnable Bastion of Singapore with its largest long range guns to protect us.

December 8, 1941 came upon us, with consequences far from predictable. Almost within twinkling of an eye, the Japanese forces made a lightning attack on the Butterworth area of the Peninsula. R.A.F. effectiveness was practically nullified – planes and facilities were virtually wiped out. We still had Singapore to safeguard us and also the good news that the two navygiants – the Prince of Wales, and the Repulse – were in Malayan waters. These provided a formidable, adequate defence force and even the vanguard of an attack force which we “knew” was just around the corner.

Fate however was not on our side ... (Please click "Next" to read Parts 2, 3 & 4 )
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