Fred de Souza



Frederick Benjamin de Souza (b. 13 April 1918, Singapore–d. 9 July 1964, Singapore) was one of Singapore’s most successful marksmen. He won gold medals in the 1961 South East Asian Peninsular Games and the 1962 Asian Games. It was hoped that de Souza would win a medal for Malaysia at the 1964 Olympic Games, but he died before the games were held.1

Early life
De Souza was one of nine surviving children of George Frederick de Souza, a clerk in a law firm, and his wife, Hilda Theodora Cornelius. They were descended from Malaccan Portuguese and Dutch Eurasians respectively. The family lived on St Michael’s Road before moving to a more modest shophouse on Queen Street and finally to Chancery Hill.2 De Souza attended St Joseph’s Institution and then Raffles College, where he majored in mathematics and graduated with an arts diploma in 1941.3


Like many Eurasians at the time, de Souza had an enthusiasm for shooting and enlisted in the Singapore Volunteer Corps in 1938, joining the D Company for Eurasians with his brother, Carl, and some classmates and friends. Membership in the corps included opportunities to practise shooting, and members enjoyed competing with one another. De Souza, known to his comrades as Moogie, was one of a number who became a crack shot.4

Japanese Occupation and postwar years
De Souza was promoted to corporal in 1939 and subsequently made a company sergeant major. The volunteers were mobilised in 1941 in view of the looming war. Following the Japanese invasion in 1942, de Souza was captured as a prisoner-of-war (POW).5 Together with his brother, de Souza was taken to labour on the construction of the Burma Railway for most of 1943.6 Thousands of his fellow prisoners perished during the construction due to overwork, heat exhaustion and disease. De Souza managed to survive cholera with only saline. He and his brother were sent back to Singapore and interned at Changi Prison in December 1943.

After liberation de Souza assisted with the rehabilitation of POWs, and joined the Singapore contingent at London’s victory parade held on 8 June 1946. He became a school teacher in Kuala Trengganu but returned to London in 1949 to study law at Middle Temple. Three years later he went back to Singapore and became a prosecutor for the City Council before entering private practice, eventually becoming a partner in his own firm.8 However, it was for the marksmanship he had honed during his time in the Volunteer Corps that he was to become famous for.

Major accomplishments
Gold medals
At the second South East Asian Peninsular Games held in Rangoon (Yangon) in December 1961, de Souza won a gold medal with a score of 576 points out of a possible 600 in the small-bore prone-position category, the last event of the games.9 He improved his score at the September 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, taking second place in the first round, then tying with his Japanese competitor in the second round and taking the lead in the final four rounds with a total score of 583 out of 600. This was one point short of the Asian Games record, and his was the only gold among the three medals won by Team Singapore at the games.10

De Souza played an active role in a number of charitable and sporting organisations. He was on the committee of the Eurasian Association from 1957 to 1963 and the management committee of the Singapore Recreation Club in 1961.11 He served as chairman of the Singapore Rifle Association between 1962 and 1964, and was also vice president of the Shooting Association of Malaysia.12

The 1963 South East Asian Peninsular Games was cancelled due to problems in the host country, Cambodia, but as Asia’s best shot in his event and one of the six top-ranked in the world, de Souza was a leading medal hope for Malaysia at its first Olympics.13 During the trials for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, “Bulls Eye Fred” – a nickname given to de Souza – was practising at the Gimson School rifle range on Clementi Road when he scored over 590 and hit an exceptional 597 on one occasion.14

Death and memorial
Unfortunately, de Souza died at home of a heart attack on 10 July 1964, just before travelling to Kuala Lumpur for confirmation of his place in Malaysia’s shooting team for the Olympic Games that October.15 He was in the process of helping to establish the Singapore Shooting Association, a national regulatory body for all recreational shooting, and was president of its pro-tem committee.16 De Souza was buried at Bidadari Cemetery.17


Malaysia did not win any medals at the Olympic Games, but had de Souza been able to replicate his pre-Olympic trial score of 593 points in Tokyo, he would have finished eighth.18 Friends and admirers remembered de Souza as a quiet, generous and gentlemanly figure.19 As an Asian Games gold medallist, he was posthumously inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame when it was instituted in 1985, and later included in the Singapore Sports Council Museum.20

Family
Wife:
Olga von Bannisseht, a Dutch Eurasian refugee from Indonesia. They wed on 21 August 1946.21

Children: John and Carol.22



Author

Duncan Sutherland



References
1. Mr. Frederick Benjamin de Souza in memoriam. (1964, August). The Malayan Law Journal, 30(8), xciii. (Call no.: RCLOS 340.05 MLJ)
2. Lim, J. (Interviewer). (2000, January 25). Oral history interview with Marie Cockburn [MP3 recording no. 002176/17/1]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
3. Mr. Frederick Benjamin de Souza in memoriam. (1964, August). The Malayan Law Journal, 30(8), xciii. (Call no.: RCLOS 340.05 MLJ)
4. Tan, B. L. (Interviewer). (1983, June 26). Oral history interview with Carl de Souza [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 000290/07/1, pp. 1–3, 7–11]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Foenander, T. (2008, February). Eurasians in the Singapore Volunteer Corps: A roster. Retrieved 2016, October 26 from website: http://archive.ec/IIjUM
5. Foenander, T. (2008, February). Eurasians in the Singapore Volunteer Corps: A roster. Retrieved 2016, October 26 from website: http://archive.ec/IIjUM
6. Lim, J. (Interviewer). (2000, January 25). Oral history interview with Marie Cockburn [MP3 recording no. 002176/17/3]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
7. Tan, B. L. (Interviewer). (1983, June 26). Oral history interview with Carl de Souza [Transcript of MP3 recording no. 000290/07/2, p. 14]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

8 Mr. Frederick Benjamin de Souza in memoriam. (1964, August). The Malayan Law Journal, 30(8), xciii. (Call no.: RCLOS 340.05 MLJ)
9. Lew, H. K. (Ed.). (1985). SEA Games records 1959–1985. Selangor: Penerbit Pan Earth Sdn Bhd, p. 127. (Call no.: RSEA 796.0959 LEW)
10. Siebel, N. (1962, September 1). From Fred – ‘gold’ for S’pore. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Mr. Frederick Benjamin de Souza in memoriam. (1964, August). The Malayan Law Journal, 30(8), xciii. (Call no.: RCLOS 340.05 MLJ); Ebert-Oehlers, A. (1992). For love of the game. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 175. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Singapore Recreation Club. (2008). SRC celebrates: 1883–2007. Singapore: Singapore Recreation Club, p. 201. (Call no.: RSING 796.0605957 SIN)
12. Alpine, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: A who’s who from 1936 to 2004. Singapore: SNP Reference, p. 362. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL); Fred de Souza dies at 46. (1964, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13 Lew, H. K. (Ed.). (1985). SEA games records 1959–1985. Selangor: Penerbit Pan Earth Sdn Bhd, p. 127. (Call no.: RSEA 796.0959 LEW); Mr. Frederick Benjamin de Souza in memoriam. (1964, August). The Malayan Law Journal, 30(8), xciii. (Call no.: RCLOS 340.05 MLJ)
14. Siebel, N. (1964, July 11). Fred was an aristocrat of the range. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Siebel, N. (1964, July 11). Fred was an aristocrat of the range. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Ebert-Oehlers, A. (1992). For love of the game. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 147. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Fred de Souza dies at 46. (1964, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Fred de Souza dies at 46. (1964, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Aplin, N., Waters, D., & Leong, M. L. (2005). Singapore Olympians: A who’s who from 1936 to 2004. Singapore: SNP Reference, p. 362. (Call no.: RSING 796.09225957 APL)
19. Siebel, N. (1964, July 11). Fred was an aristocrat of the range. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chan, T. C. (2002, January 12). ‘Sporting greats should inspire others’. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Volunteer C. S. M. weds. (1946, August 22). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Lim, J. (Interviewer). (2000, January 25). Oral history interview with Marie Cockburn [MP3 recording no. 002176/17/16]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/




The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
 

Subject
Recreation>>Sports
De Souza, Frederick Benjamin, 1918-1964
Shooters of firearms--Singapore--Biography
Sports and games
Sports, recreation and travel>>Fishing and shooting>>Shooting