In 1970, a SAF platoon commander died saving 2 men from detonating grenade

A hero.

Guan Zhen Tan | October 19, 2019 @ 02:45 am


Second lieutenant Tay Seow Kai might not be a familiar name to most in Singapore.

But his actions have gone down in history as the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrating the bravery and selflessness of men in the Singapore Armed Forces.

Saved two fellow soldiers

Tay’s story can be found in a 2012 commentary by Samuel Chan written for the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

The article said that Tay, a 21-year-old platoon commander and trainer at that time, was undergoing a live weapons practice with his men at the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute at Pasir Labar on Aug. 26, 1970.

Image via Sim Boon Leng’s Facebook post

A 20-year old recruit, Kwok Seong Fan, proceeded to fumble a live grenade.

Tay instinctively snatched the grenade from the trainee’s hands, to shield his recruits from danger.

Tay’s actions resulted in the grenade detonating in his hands, fatally wounding him.

Kwok and another soldier, Corporal Ou Siang Chin, survived with minor injuries, as Tay absorbed the impact of the explosion.

Tay was buried in Chua Chu Kang Cemetery with full military honours on Aug. 28, 1970.

Image via Sim Boon Leng’s Facebook post

Decades after his death, his story and ultimate sacrifice would resurface on social media, via Facebook user Sim Boon Leng’s post in November 2016.

Resurfaced on social media

Sim’s post has since been republished and gained traction again on Oct. 15, 2019, in another Facebook post by Daily Quote Singapore.

Judging by the 872 shares it received the second time round, it appears Tay’s story has not been made known widely enough as many are reading it for the first time.

Photos attached to the posts also featured an obituary for Tay on the 10th anniversary of his death.

The obituary was published in the Chinese language newspaper, Sin Chew Jit Poh.

Image via Sim Boon Leng’s Facebook post

On the obituary, a poignant tribute was written for Tay, adapted from the ancient Chinese poem, Passing by Lingdingyang by Wen Tianxiang:

No one has escaped death since time immemorial

Save for one’s heroism which shines through history

Gone, but not forgotten.

Top image adapted via Sim Boon Leng’s Facebook post

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen has plenty of random trivia in her head. Did you know that Qebhet is an Egyptian goddess whose role is to serve water to the souls of the dead in the Hall of Truth as they await judgment? Guan Zhen also loves visual kei bands, doodling and showing memes to her mum. 

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