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Boys’ Brigade in Singapore

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Dec 15, 2021

The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore (Malay: Briged Putera Singapura;Chinese (simplified): 少年旅;( MandarinPinyin: shào nián lǚ; );) is a youth uniformed group organisation which has been present in Singapore since 1930. It currently consists of over 700 officers and 6,300 Boys in over 116 companies. Its current Brigade President is Mr Poh Leong Berg and its Honorary President is Lieutenant-General (Ret) Winston Choo, the former Chief of Defence Force of the Singapore Armed Forces. The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2020 and has the distinguished honour of having the President of the Republic of Singapore as its Patron.

This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (February 2011)
The Boys’ Brigade
in Singapore
Briged Putera Singapura
少年旅
Abbreviation BB
Founded 1930
Type Non-profit organisation
Legal status Active
Purpose “To nurture Youth, based on Christian values to serve and lead”
Headquarters Singapore
Location
Membership

(2020)

Around 6300
Official language
English
Founder
James Milner Fraser
Current President
Mr Poh Leong Berg
Website www.bb.org.sg

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The Boys’ Brigade’s former Campus at 105 Ganges Avenue.

The Boys’ Brigade was introduced to Singapore by James Milner Fraser, an architect from Britain. He was a former member of the 23rd Aberdeen and the 23rd London Companies.

On 12 January 1930, Fraser started the 1st Singapore Company at Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church. With the aid of ex-Sergeant Quek Eng Moh of the 1st Swatow Company, he assembled 12 local Boys to form the company.

Progress was slow initially, but by the time the company was officially enrolled at Brigade Headquarters in London, in August 1930, the membership had risen to 40. The company chaplain was Reverend William Murray and Fraser’s lieutenants were John McNeish (formerly of 76th Glasgow) and Dong Chui Sing. Bible class, drill, concerts, wayfaring, signalling, first aid, swimming, fencing, tumbling and other forms of physical recreation formed the core of the Boys’ Brigade syllabus.

In the following year, the first camp was held at the Singapore Volunteer Camp at Siglap. A successful inspection was also held to bring the session to a close.

Extension soon followed, spearheaded by McNeish with the formation of the 2nd Singapore Company at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church in February 1931.

By 1936, the Singapore Battalion was 200-strong, with the 3rd Singapore (1933) started at the Anglo-Chinese Continuation School, the 5th Singapore (1934) at Choon Guan Presbyterian Boys School, 4th Singapore (1934) at Geylang Methodist Church and the 6th Singapore (1934) at Paya Lebar Methodist Church.

The Battalion Colors were presented to the battalion by Frank Cooper Sands[1](former brigade chairman of the Singapore Officers’ Council[2] and later an honorary vice-president of the Battalion[3]) in 1936 and the drill competition was introduced. Fraser served as the Battalion President from 1936 to 1956. In 1940, he handed the captaincy of the 1st Singapore over to one of his Boys, S. P. Chua.

During the war years of 1942 to 1945, The Boys’ Brigade’s activities were suspended. To avoid desecration, the prized Singapore Battalion Colors were destroyed, but some of the coveted drums were stored away in a room at Prinsep Headquarters.

After the war, S. P. Chua revived the 1st Singapore Company. He was joined immediately by Fraser and by 1950, the Battalion had regained its old strength.

By 1968, there were 28 companies in Singapore. In 1971, the Brigade had the distinguished honour of having the President of the Republic of Singapore as its Patron.

As the Brigade approached its 85th Anniversary in 2015, it conducted its first Trooping of Colours parade and reunion dinner in over a decade with the then Education Minister Heng Swee Keat as the Guest-of-Honor.

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