Friday, May 18, 2012

Tan Chow Kim (Bukit Brown)

Tan Chow Kim (1883-1953), was one of the original members of the Singapore Voluntary Infantry (S.V.I) , a company within the Singapore Volunteer Corps. and coined in Sir Song Ong Siang's book to be one of the "best specimens" of a Chinese Volunteer. Born in 19th September 1883 and educated in Raffles Institution, he was a gifted shooter. He was the first Chinese volunteer selected to shoot in the Singapore team for the Interport. He also won many prizes at the annual meetings of the Singapore Rifle Association. In 1913, he took second place in the Governor's Cup (the local version of the King's Prize at Bisley)

Tan Chow Kim's picture at his tomb
Tan Chow Kim's picture at his tomb 

Chinese Co. S.V.I wins the Warren Shield

In the competition in the Balestier Range in August 10th 1907, the Chinese company of the S.V.I won the Warren Shield for the first time with a narrow margin of 2 points. Among the team members was of course, a young Tan Chow Kim.

Warren Shield 

In the last Interport match in May 1914 (before the Great War), the Singapore team won first prize. Members of the team included Tan Chow Kim and Sir Ong Siang. The novel feature of this event was the inclusion of a woman in this team, a Miss Kerr (Principal of the Chinese Girls' School).

First "Chinaman" to shoot in Bisley 

Tan Chow Kim together with Messers Long and Galistan were the first Straits born individuals to represent the Colony in England for the National Rifle Association (N.R.A) competition in Bisley in 1910. English journalist were disappointed after seeing Tan Chow Kim as they were expecting a "pig tail" (queue) adorned chinese with Qing robes representative of his native country! Instead they found one who could speak perfect English and dressed the same as them. Another journalist from the Daily Mail went on to describe Tan Chow Kim as a "a slim,khaki-clad figure lay for hours in the long grass of the Bisley ranges striving hard to understand the vagaries of English winds. It was Tan Chow Kim, the first Chinaman to shoot at Bisley, and a member of the Singapore team, who traveled many a thousand miles to take part in a contest for the Empire Cup".

The Singapore team (consisting of nine man) came up 5th in the Empire Cup and 7th in the Kolapore Cup.

Promotion and Resignation 

As a Chinese Volunteer he moved up as non commission officer to eventually a Platoon Officer in December 1915. He was very popular among the ranks. Although his eyesight troubled him, he held his post throughout the Great War (World War I) until the signing of the armistice (marking the end of the war) in which he then resigned due to increased poor sight. Prior to his leaving, he also received from the Governor, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces long service medal award.

Promotion celebrations in 1916
Tan Chow Kim died on February 9, 1953 at the age of 70 at his residence in 131, Moulmein Road. He left behind 3 sons (Guan Heng, Guan Kiat and Guan Hong) and 4 daughters. He is buried in Block 5 Division B and affected by the 8 lane highway. His peg number is 1213.
Tomb of Tan Chow Kim 

Sergeant Tan Chow Kim. (1910, July 11). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1915, December 25). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Untitled. (1916, February 1). The Singapore Free Press, page 10
Untitled. (1922, January 28). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Death. (1953, February, 10). The Straits Times, page 7
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

1 comment:

an Oracle said...

I wanted to thank you for your most interesting post. I had noticed this photograph in the Imperial war museum book on the SVC but of course didn't really give much thought to it until I came across your post.

My grandfather served in the SRA (SVRA) in the 1920's and was the club secretary for a while, he also won a few medals and spoons!

DO you have any other photographs from the SVRA from the 1920's ?