March 11, 1965
Jackie Sam, Philip Khoo, Cheong Yip Seng, Abul Fazil,
Roderick Pestana and Gabriel Lee
A BOMB explosion killed two office girls in the
Hongkong and Shanghai Bank building known as
MacDonald House in Orchard Road here this afternoon.
At least 33 other people were injured.
The extent of the damage on the mezzanine floor of
the 10-storey building made it a simple matter to
determine where the bomb was placed -- near the lift.
An inner wall at this level was blasted inwards
and collapsed in a mass of rubble into the bank on
the ground floor.
Killed immediately were Mrs. Suzie Choo, 36,
private secretary to the Bank Manager, and Miss
Juliet Goh, 23, a filing clerk in the bank.
Many others -- in the bank and on the road -- fell
like ninepins, many seriously injured.
Every window within a hundred yards was shattered,
and almost every car immediately outside the building
and across the road was damaged.
Passing cars jolled to a halt. A taxi-driver and
his two passengers were injured.
But there was no panic. Swiftly the road was
cleared. Ambulances and fire engines rolled in.
The full extent of the tragedy began to unfold
only as the dead and the injured were carried out.
||Arrow in the picture at
left points to the exact spot on the stairway
on the mezzanine floor of MacDonald House
where the time-bomb exploded.
The bomb exploded at 3.07 p.m. -- just eight
minutes before the Wearne Brothers' motor mechanics
were due to gather by the side of the building for
their tea break.
The explosion ripped off a lift door -- but it was
one of the inner walls on the mezzanine floor that
took the full force of the blast.
On the other side of this wall was the
correspondence office of the bank, in which Mrs Choo
and Miss Goh were working. Both were buried by
Many office workers in the building, thought, like
Mrs. Rosie Heng of the Malaya Borneo Building Society
on the fourth floor, that it was a thunderclap --
because it was raining heavily at the time.
On the ground floor plaster and bricks were
raining down on the bank employees.
The bank had closed for business only seven
minutes earlier, and about 150 employees were busy
Behind the counter and just below the
correspondence office, the compradore, Mr Lim Chin
Hin, 45, wiped blood from his face and said a silent
He was giving thanks for a miraculous escape.
Alone in his room, he had seen a "sudden
flash". Then came the bang.
He looked up to find that the upper part of the
wall behind him had caved in, leaving a skeleton of a
twisted steel pillar exposed.
Still stunned, Mr Lim picked up his spectacles,
which had fallen, and groped his way out of the room.
Further inside the bank, Mr I C Menzies, 27, head
of current account department, was at his postronic
machine when he heard the explosion and found himself
in a cloud of dust.
His first thought was the roof was falling down on
him. Through the cloud of dust, he could see vague
figures moving out quickly.
Someone, he learned later, had instructed the
employees, to clear out of the building within
minutes of the explosion.
He collected the books and locked them up in the
safe before leaving. He was later taken to the
hospital to have a cut in the head attended to.
In the offices of the Australian High Commission,
Mr H. Brokenshire, the Press Attache, went to the
toilet -- and returned to find desks, chairs and
typewriters thrown about by the force of the
The heavy wooden door of the main office had been
wrenched from its hinges and tossed 9m up the
The toilet door too had been ripped off and the
landing outside the High Commission had buckled.
A near victim of the explosion on this floor was
Mr Barry J. O'Donnell, the Administrative Attache,
who was waiting for the lift when the bomb went off.
The lift doors in front of him were blown out and
he was flung several yards down the passsage.
Higher up in the building a second lift jammed
just before the bomb went off.
Six people, including two children were inside and
the liftman and one of the passengers were trying to
prise open the door when the explosion shook the lift
and sent it hurtling down several floors.
Mrs Jean Standish, 31, wife of a Naval Base
technical college lecturer. Mrs Barrington and her
two children had just paid a visit to their dentist
on one of the upper floors.
Mrs Standish said later: "The jammed lift
doors probably saved our lives." But Mrs
Barrington's nine-year-old son sustained a cut on his
chin. The others were not hurt.
Outside, nearly half the road in front of the
building was blocked by the wrecked station wagon,
the other half by another damaged car belonging to
the Japanese Consulate.
||The wrecked station
wagon belonging to the Australian High
Commission. It was parked outside the
A taxi driven by Koh Siong Khiong had been lifted
and bounced by the force of the explosion. Koh was
injured by flying glass.
In the car park across the road, the screens of
almost all the vehicles were shattered.
On the roadside, a sleek red Volvo coupe had its
side smashed in and two tyres slashed.
Still worse was a maroon Simea with its right side
studded with shattered glass.
Outside the Cycle and Carriage showroom across the
road, two mechanics were standing side by side when
glass splinters ripped into their bodies. They were
badly injured. Cars in the showroom were also
The Wearne Brothers' group sustained still heavier
damage. Every one of the cars in the Progress Motors
showroom -- just beside MacDonald House -- was
Three workers in this showroom were also injured.
Many more would have been killed or injured if the
bomb had gone off 10 minutes later.
These workers usually go into the lane between
Progress Motors and MacDonald House to buy fruit from
a stall there during their tea break.
When the bomb went off, the fruit stall was
demolished. The two hawkers attending the stall were
Other shops suffered damage, too. Glass windows
were blasted out of their frames to end up in little
pieces on five-foot ways.
Neon signs crashed down or trailed disjointed in
At 3.30 pm the Reserve Unit arrived to hold the
crowd back. Traffic policemen were already diverting
traffic in Penang Road and Tank Road.
The damaged station wagon was pushed to the
roadside to allow clear passage for ambulances.
Top police officers, who had been in conference at
Pearl's Hill, were soon on the scene. After them came
the British Army's bomb disposal squad.
The General Hospital by now was crammed with
people -- relatives and friends of the injured.
At 5pm when the rain stopped, a big Health
Department team arrived to clear the thick carpet of
shattered glass on the road.
||Four sweepers cleaning
the road in front of MacDonald House after
Crowds gathered, then drifted away. Police took up
positions on both sides of the road to prevent
looting. The short stretch of Orchard Road was closed
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