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Melody Zaccheus
Thursday, May 8, 2014

Singapore

No hollow feat: These pack a historical punch

The Straits Times | Melody Zaccheus | Thursday, May 8, 2014

(From left) Yo Poh Tee, Chan Siew Mun, Lt-Col (Retired) Kwek Boon Yong, the league’s vice-president Colonel (Retired) Lau Kee Siong, NHB’s group director of policy Alvin Tan, league president B-G (NS) Winston Toh and Major (Retired) Ishwar Lall-Singh with the brass cartridges from the first and last shots fired during a 21-gun salute at Singapore’s first National Day Parade in 1966.

SINGAPORE - For the past five decades, Mr Ishwar Lall-Singh has kept two brass gun cartridges at home and would take them out to polish every other day.

These cartridges are not just any shells - they are the first and last shots fired during a 21-gun salute at Singapore's first National Day Parade (NDP) in 1966.

But Mr Lall-Singh, a member of the Singapore Armed Forces Veterans League, will no longer be doing any polishing.

He donated the artefacts to the league last month, which recognised their historical significance. The league, in turn, loaned them to the National Heritage Board (NHB) for preservation yesterday.

"I'm getting on in years and it's been hard to maintain them properly," said the 85-year-old.

The loan will benefit Singaporeans. NHB told The Straits Times the mementos will be part of a travelling exhibition next year on the country's first NDP.

A documentary on the first parade was also uploaded on the board's website yesterday.

The Republic's first NDP, held at the Padang, involved 23,000 men, women and children.

Both President Yusof Ishak and Defence Minister Goh Keng Swee, also the Colonel of the Singapore Royal Artillery (Volunteer) or SRAV, inspected the parade's contingents to the sounds of the gun salute.

The salute, a tradition handed down by British military forces, is typically reserved for heads of state.

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