The Awakening Of The Lion: Singapore

  • 15.00 £
  • Published date: June 18, 2024
    • Wormley, Surrey, United Kingdom

The Awakening Of The Lion: Singapore

⭕ The extraordinary The Awakening of the Lion: Singapore is a fictionalized account of the true experiences of author Peter Neville, who served with the Royal Air Force during the 1950s in Singapore and Malaya. He was eighteen when he received his posting to Asia to serve during the so-called Emergency--a time of active communist terrorism and rising nationalism in the region.
Relatively little is now heard or known about this campaign fought in the period immediately after the Second World War. It was a low-level but intense conflict, which lasted for twelve years, beginning in June 1948, when three English managers of rubber estates at Sungei Siput, in northern Perak State, Malaya were seized by a squad of terrorists and machine-gunned to death. Two days later a state of emergency was declared in Perak and parts of Johore. This was extended over the whole of Malaya the next day, and the Government of Singapore followed suit a week later. The enemy was about 4,500 guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party that aimed to overthrow the British colonial government, which had been reinstalled after the surrender of Japan in 1945, and to replace it with a government allied to the communist regime which was then on the verge of winning power in China.

In a warm descriptive style, Neville recounts his first impressions of the Far East and his enchantment with its exoticness. He can obviously remember his own feelings and emotions with such clarity that his scenes are colorful and lively; he vividly captures the young protagonist Peters naivete about life in the infamous Bugis street and red light district of Singapore.

Peter falls in love with the beautiful Lie Ming, the popular Chinese prostitute known locally as Rose of Singapore, and the first half of the book traces their relationship, from Peters first sexual encounter to a blossoming love affair between the two. Peter is in blissful ignorance of Roses true profession for some time; his discovery and their reconciliation is beautifully told. Amidst this, Neville captures the colorful nightlife and street characters at the markets and stalls, in the bars and clubs, as well as day-to-day life at the RAF Changi base where Peter was transferred after spending time in Hong Kong and Malaya. Trained as a radar and fighter plotter, Peter found himself re-deployed as a cook in the catering section when there was an oversupply of fighter plotters. Finding enjoyment in his new role, Neville captures Peters comradeship with his fellow airmen and recounts humorous anecdotes of cooking for troops under difficult conditions.

The latter part of the book, written in quite a different style, is by far the most gripping. Peter and his best friend Rick are transferred back to Malaya in a party of twenty-two airmen required to support the defense of the isolated base at Frasers Hill. Nevilles tense and compelling story of savage ambush and jungle fighting leap from the pages; I would have to believe that they are based on his own experiences. The raw brutality and reality of the story seem too much for mere fiction. Without giving the story away, the book weaves and twists through a number of sub plots that take the reader from horror and sadness to anticipation and acceptance.

Neville writes in the epilogue that this book was first written in 1955, when he was only 22, which makes it a remarkable first novel. He says it is a fictionalized account of his life in Singapore and Malaya, but based on true experiences. However, Neville waited until 1999 to first self-publish his story calling it The Awakening of the Lion: Singapore. It deserves a wider readership now, as it seems to capture the essence of a bygone era in this part of Asia in the 1950s where British colonial rule was struggling against emerging Asian cultures.

The Awakening of the Lion: Singapore, may be obtained from the publisher Arthur H. Stockwell. Elms Court, Ilfracombe. Devon. EX34 8BA. England. Price 15 pounds plus postage.

Phone number ✆ 07845 978552

Wormley, Surrey

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