...the interesting material at Singapore was human—and disturbing.
The governor, Sir Shenton Thomas 1, is compact, brisk and I should think efficient. Talks with precision and emphasis, instead of the usual vague phrases “d’you see what I mean” of the tropical service Englishman. His wife is small and intelligent, except that she races horses and sometimes wins.
The new C in C. of the Far East, Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke-Popham 2, looks like the late Baden-Powell. 3 He has borne the white man’s burden in many places from Kenya to Canada, and it has left his shoulders a little stooped. His hair and moustache are both sandy and wispy and a little indeterminate. He received us at the landing stage, wearing a pith helmet, a “bush shirt” of khaki, the tail outside the trousers in the manner of a tunic, & shorts. So complete a type was he that I had much ado not to say “Dr Livingstone, I presume”. His voice is thin and high pitched, but, after a while, not unpleasant. His attitude throughout our talks was courteous and benevolent, he is a first class listener, but he left me with a vague feeling that his instincts favour some heroic but futile Rorke’s Drift rather than clear-cut planning, realism and science.
Winston Churchill had lunched him in London before he came out to this appointment, and he was boyishly pleased that Winston’s farewell exhortations to him had contained more than a hint of the forlorn hope (“Hold out to the last, my boy, God bless you. If your grandfather had not broken his neck playing polo at Poona he would be proud of you this day!”).
General Bond 4 commands the army, presumably. Tall, well-groomed, and with that form of mental hiccups which reduces conversation to a series of unrelated ejaculations. One eye is closed, the other droops behind a monocle. If there is action, the General will no doubt die gallantly, but too many of his men will die with him.
Hold out to the last, my boy, God bless you. If your grandfather had not broken his neck playing polo at Poona he would be proud of you this day!