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Coronation 1953

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singapore 1953

Memories from Malaya

by Michael Pancheri

On June 2nd, 1953, my family lived in Singapore which, as one of the Malay States, was under British administration. The new Queen's coronation was therefore a momentous day for the large expatriate British community living there.

I was about three weeks shy of my sixth birthday on 2nd June, and my father took me down to the Singapore Sailing Club to watch the celebrations of the members and their friends. Many of them had dressed up their boats, from smart sailing boats to little sampans, as pirate ships while the owners and crews dressed as pirates.

They threw flour bombs at each other, fought mock battles boarding each others' boats, throwing each other overboard into the sea, and generally fooling around. All of which I, and all the other spectators, found generally hilarious. Singapore itself was bedecked with patriotic flags and banners which encouraged many of the Chinese immigrant traders and shopkeepers to dress up their own lorries and trucks with multi-coloured lights and banners in Chinese characters, and then to parade through the town accompanied by much clashing of cymbals and noisy Chinese music.

Meantime it was raining hard in London, apparently, but there was no television in Malaya at that time, so nothing to keep us inside. I don't remember much else but expect there were lots of parties and 'curry tiffin' lunches going on, and much consumption of Anchor and Tiger beer – not that I got much of that.

Somehow I don't see King Charles III's coronation day being quite so lively, as colourful or as noisy as that day in Singapore!

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