Tanglin's History of Community Resilience | Tenacity

Tanglin's History of Community Resilience | Tenacity
Tanglin's History of Community Resilience | Tenacity

While there's no denying that these have been challenging times for all of us, we also recognise that each of us has had our individual challenges to deal with.

You may be keeping your home life upbeat with your positivity; or you may be separated from close family and keeping busy: whether you are juggling your children's home learning with two parents working from home; or teaching your class through remote learning whilst guiding your own young children through theirs – we appreciate and support everyone's exceptional efforts.

As we approach the final week of the circuit breaker, and are adapting to the changes to come, many of us are mining our resources of resilience. So we are sharing a few gems of community creativity and kindness, past and present – small gestures with a big impact – starting here with some from 'Miss Griff' our founder. We hope these will help to raise spirits, or keep morale up. We are a big school but it's always been the small things that count.

The power of music to lift spirits is well known. Less well known is this anecdote about how our founder, Miss Griff, used music to lighten the darkest of times. This snippet comes from Joe Allgrove, a planter in the Johore Volunteer Engineers, who is describing the march to Changi Prison in 1942:

"Then came the order to troops to march to Changi, seventeen miles. Our Commanding Officer, Major Jack Cross MC, had other ideas, having held on to a lorry or two. These had all the reserve food belonging to the unit. We piled on top, instructed to drive in the direction of Changi until stopped by the Japanese. En route we passed a column of English women marching to Changi goal, some fifteen miles, to be civilian internees. It was around 11am and hot. They were marching briskly and singing. Among them Miss Griffith-Jones who had run the school at Tanglin and another in the Cameron Highlands."

John Owen-Davies (former Reuters Foreign Correspondent in Asia, Africa and the Middle East) records the last part of their journey in his 2006 article, 'Miss Griff' – A Story of Courage and Dedication:

"As the bedraggled column approached Changi Prison, which was to be home for them for the next three-and-a-half years, the group's leader, Anne Laugharne Phillips Griffith-Jones, said: 'Come on girls. Let's march properly in columns and sing 'There will always be an England' to give our men a lift.' Miss Griff knew this action would lift the spirits of the 2,000 men, Allied soldiers and civilians already in Changi. She was correct. The men on the other side of the walls cheered themselves hoarse as the column swung into the prison."

In 1944, the entire group of internees, including Miss Griff, was moved from Changi Prison to Sime Road Camp, to make room for the Military POWs. While many of our current families have taken on planting projects to stay connected with nature during this extended time indoors, at Sime Road Camp gardening was a matter of survival*1:

"... with our 21 acres under cultivation, the camp gardeners were members of one of our vital services. Besides the camp gardens, there were small private allotments, for such internees as applied for them, where chillies, tomatoes and vegetables that required no cooking could be grown to supplement the scanty menus."

And finally, Miss Griff shows us that laughter really is the best medicine. This is an extract from Reverend John Hayter's book Priest in Prison: four years of life in Japanese-occupied Singapore that recalls her instructions to a group of women gardeners with regard to pulling off the leaves of sweet potatoes:

"... 'You are to go to the bottom of the hill at the back of Hut 1, strip from the bottom upwards and the men will follow!' I was told that you could hear a gale of laughter from each hut as the story travelled round the Women's Camp."

The book does not record her reaction to the hilarity, but what we do know is that her positivity, energy and strength of character still shine brightly, and continue to define our school.

So everything changes, but some things remain very much the same. While we are not all in the same boat – our experiences are particular to our time and individual situation – the tenacity of Team Tanglin keeps us moving forward together.


*1 Extract from An Internee Presents a Picture of Internment in Singapore by H. R. Cheeseman, from March 1946

Read more about Tanglin's History of Community Resilience here:

SARS and H1N1 https://www.tts.edu.sg/news-and-events/tanglin-new...

Polio outbreaks https://www.tts.edu.sg/news-and-events/tanglin-new...

Wartime hiatuses https://www.tts.edu.sg/news-and-events/tanglin-new...