My great grandfather was a war hero5
I am Jaimie Ho, writing from Sydney, Australia after reading your articles The Fall of Singapore – 15th February 1942 and Even when your soul descends into hell, still it is not enough to atone for your sins about Tay Koh Yat. My mother’s family is Singaporean and I have never known much about my heritage. I don’t even know the full names of my grandparents. A few days ago my mother received an email link to your articles from her sister in Singapore. Tay Koh Yat was my mother, Beng Wee Tay’s grandfather. Although she was born in 1956, one year before he died, she spent her childhood known as “Tay Koh Yat’s granddaughter” to her classmates and a lot of time at Tay’s bus company depot.
I’d first like to thank you for writing these articles. It has brought a lot of excitement and happiness to my family, and to my mother a resurgence of patriotism – not that she needed it, she volunteered in the Singaporean Army when she was a teenager. She moved to Australia when she was 17 and has lived here raising her family ever since but proudly retains Singaporean citizenship. But discovering that her grandfather founded a resistance army of 20,000 against the invading Japanese almost brought tears to her eyes she was so thrilled.
Secondly, I’d like to ask you whether you have any more information on Tay Koh Yat, any articles, artifacts, data, that you uncovered in your research that wasn’t published in the article. I know it would mean a lot to my mother to know more about her grandfather. Also to her three siblings.
Lastly, I read that Tay’s grave was under threat from the building of a new highway. Is or has the exhumation gone ahead? My mother is travelling to Singapore within a month to visit her mother, the widow of Tay’s late son. I believe this new information on her grandfather has brought loads of excitement to her return.
My great appreciation and regards,
Editor’s note: Tay Koh Yat’s tomb is not in the way of the proposed 8 lane highway and is safe for now. We thank Jamie Ho for this gratifying email of personal discovery from beyond Singapore on her great grandfather Tay Koh Yat produced here in full. We will keep in touch with her and hope to meet her mother - Tay Koh Yat’s granddaughter- when she visits.