SOME NOTES ON HASH HISTORY
By Curley Lee
Like all histories I must begin with origins. There may have been Harriers in days of Swettenham and Clifford for the Orang Puteh’s enjoyment or exercise, but the only precursor or the HHH of which I’m aware was prior to the slump of the 1930’s when a male/female group had their runs on Sundays, followed by Curry Tiffin.
One of its leading lights was a great Malayan character of his time, Arthur Westrop, whom I was happy to meet again on shortly before he died, on his tea plantation in Cholo, Malawi.
When he had retired in 1947 after many years as head of Malayan Fertilizers. After distinguished service in world war 1 in the R.A., where he was awarded the M.C. and the Croix de Guerre, he came from Ceylon, to the Malaya and founded this firm. Whether it was scouting, polo playing, jungle bashing, bird watching, canoeing, dancing, or harrying, he undertook them all with terrific zest, blessed be the memory of a true harrier. Arthur Westrop told me that Romance ran with these harriers, and quite a few marriages resulted.
Our own HHH had it’s own lighted-hearted origins during dinners at the Selangor Club Chambers in 1938 which in its day sheltered from the storm the younger members of the expatriate community, plus a few older oddities. A.S.Gispert – “G” – had come from Malacca where there had been harriers and it was persistence that prevailed upon a hesitant few to try the experiment around Kuala Lumpur on Friday evenings.
“Hash House”, perhaps needless to say, was an allusion on our lack of organization until “Torch” Bennett arrived back from leave and imparted some.
“G”’s memory is very precious to me. He had no pretentions to athetic prowess, being short, rather rotund, and a Bon Viveur. He had a great sense of fun and humour, but underneath noble instincts. Alas he was not to survive the war.
He came from Australia, where he was on leave, whilst the Japanese were chasing us down the peninsula. A good company commander of “A” Company, Selangor Battalion, R.M.S.V.F., he took a lieutenant’s commission in the much depleted Argyll and Southern Highlands. I met him when my armoured car squadron was harboured with them on a hill above Johore Causeway.
When Singapore was invaded the Argylls were sent up to support the 22nd Australian Brigade retreating from Tengah Airfield and soon found themselves severely beset. They were forced back to Bukit Timah Road and it was there on Tuesday night that “G” in charge of a mortar platoon was surprised and killed. So perished a gallant, kindly, happy soul whose memory the years don’t efface. He would be pleased and I think, amused to know the HHH have persisted and spread.
Of the many memories of runs before the war, I recall that it was on a Friday night, in September 1939 at Klang Gates we had the news that Poland was invaded and wondered how long we would continue our weekly sport. Its demise was, however, delayed two years.
In resuscitation after the war was due principally to “Torch” Bennett, Phillip Wickens, M.C.S. another Argyll volunteer was also a stalwart, who ensured its continuance.
For myself, if I have done nothing else in Malaya I glad to be here be partly responsible for re-initiation of the HHH and to have seen it spread from its merry and modest beginnings to other parts of Malaysia, and provide not only healthy and innocent sport but amusement to the local populace, if my memory serves me right.
“Curley Lee” was a founding member of the HHH. So this is the true story of it’s origins. This was written for Singapore HHH in 1976