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Our Teachers in News

Our Teachers in News

Swan Sisters
Story Benita Teo | Photo Chai Sian Liang


In the last of our series on SAF pioneers, Leading/SWANS (Ret) Judy Foong Yee Moi, 67, offers us a peek into the Singapore Women’s Auxiliary Naval Service (SWANS), which was set up in 1957. A retired teacher, she joined the SWANS as a radar plotater in 1964, and saw many of her fellow volunteers go on to set up the Republic of Singapore Navy.

What I miss most about the SAF

The sea training trips. We had many more islands back then (before land reclamations took place) and we went to places like Raffles Lighthouse (on Pulau Satumu) and Sisters’ Island. I was never seasick – I enjoyed the rolling and rocking of the ship. I think that when you are uptight and tense, that’s when you get seasick.

What you didn’t know

We were not allowed to fraternise with the male ratings (naval trainees). Anyone caught doing so was given an earful by our fearsome First Officer. Nonetheless, we were like a family and the guys treated us like their sisters. There was also a Hainanese cook on our ship whom we called “Ah Twee”.

He cooked for the officers, but during our weekend training, he would sneak out food for us. Because we were all very young then, he just thought, “Aiyah, all these little girls, so hungry.”

The most gung-ho thing I did

Once, we came to an island with shallow waters, and the boat could not get near it. We were supposed to wait for a sampan. But I said: “So near, what’s the problem?”

I put on my lifejacket, jumped into the sea and swam across. It was probably only about 200 to 300m away, and I thought it was a nice swim. But now when I think about it, I was quite foolish. There were lots of sharks in the waters, and we saw them sometimes!

Last updated on 06 May 2015

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