Hash Club #3:  Hash House Harriers Brunei

[Editors Note: The first part of this account was written by the founder, Colin Berwick, in Dec 1987 nearly 25 years after the founding of the Brunei hash. Colin was only on hand for the first three hash trails before being reassigned out of the country.  Below Colin account, I have added a few updates and provided some supporting details.  It all ties nicely into the accounts of the founding of both the second [ Singapore Hash ] and fourth [ Kuching Hash ] clubs. Included in this letter is an interesting spin on where the name Hash House Harriers comes from, since Cecil Lee made it clear that the food was generally quite good at the Royal Selangor Club, not the mundane gruel that has been attributed to the name. The boys actually ate HASH after their runs. Colin also appears to have coined the term H3.  You will also see the details on the very first Hashit.]

The Brunei H3 was founded by Colin Berwick on 18 February 1963 in Brunei.




Every member of every Hash knows the HHH (as it was known) started in Kuala Lumpur before the Second World War.  The only people who have prevented it running have been the Japanese, who needed most of the members they could round up to build a highway in Burma.

As soon as Lord Louis and several thousand fighting men returned to Malaya and Singapore - and sent the Japanese back home to make motor cars and things - the Hash was running again.

The centre of the Hash was Old Clubhouse on the padang known as the Spotted Dog as it was a Victorian mock Tudor wooden building, all back and white, just like a Dalmatian.  Hash Night was Monday night - refrigeration was not  what it might have been and so all the meals left over from Sunday were turned into a Hash, and as the HHH ran on Monday nights, there are prized for guessing what was on the menu when the thirsty lads returned, and I am sure this is why we are all Hash House Harriers today.

The K.L. Hash ran right through the Malayan Emergency.  Stories are told of how Chinese ambushes were surprised by the boys shouting ON ON, and hours later local forces and army patrols being shot up on the Hash Route of that day!  Of course the K.L. Hash still runs today.

The Singapore Hash was No. 2.  The first Joint Masters were Tommy Voice and John Gastrall.  Tommy was Chief Police Officer of Johore Bahru and John the Gestetner rep. for the Far East.  Both had run with the K.L. HHH and so a direct replica in Singapore soon took off.  I don't know just when the first run occurred, but it must have been mid 1961 [Note: the first running of HHH Singapore was 19 Feb 1962].  I ran on their second run and soon was a regular Hash member.  When we wanted a tie - a lot of beer was being consumed after a run in the ulu about Jurong - it was thought that HHH was a bit clumsy, and I thought H3 would do just as well.  So H3 was adopted (and has been the world wide logo for the Hash ever since).  The tie was made by Robinson's of Singapore and was green with a silver H3 - to represent the ulu and tin of the Malay Peninsular.

John Gastrall was a big man of some 6 feet 5 inches and was always being asked outside for a punch-up by strangers!  A mild man, he would stand up and most of his challengers would run away!  Tommy would use the Police Mess at JB for the odd "HashBash" and sometimes we would all go on to Annie's Massage Parlor for a beer or two afterwards!

When the Brunei Revolt started in the late 1962, some of us in Singapore had our Christmas and New Year programmes changed in a hurry.  I found myself in an RAF Hastings Aircraft with a Gurkha Guard Dog and handler for company - this man kept poking a stick at the dog, and the dog kept looking at me in such a way that, had we crashed, I would have been his Last Supper - we all arrived in Labuan and then on to Brunei.

Most of the next month or so was very busy, with trips to Limbang, Long Semado and Jessselton, as well as Seria and Kuala Belait.  Although I was an RN Surgeon Lt. Cd. and the Dental Officer of the 3rd Commmando Brigade R.M., I was attached to the army and worked with 16th Commonwealth Field Ambulance, based in Brunei Town Hospital - we worked in Ward 10.

By the end of January the revolt as such was over, and with the several thousand people about, there was no recreation.  I found an old Coxed Four, clinker-built boat at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club, and soon we could be seen rowing up and down the River between Brunei Town and Kampong Ayer.  We were very bad at rowing, but as Cox we had the very beautiful wife of a local architect, while he rowed stroke, and so kept us at a distance from temptation.

As we could only exercise four of us at a time [rowing], a more embracing sport was required.  So the Brunei Hash came into being.  Notices were pinned up in all the Service Messes and leaflets handed out to any expat civilians we had met, or could find.  (Many were asked at a party held in our mess the Friday before, to thank those who had been so kind to us, and given the poor servicemen hospitality).  Beer was easy from the NAAFI, Mr. Ang's store had large tin mugs, and I got hold of the ice from the mortuary!  The first run was a good one and was on Monday 18th February 1963 - half civilians and half service people, about 20 in all.  The next run a week later was much bigger and so it grew and grew into what it is today.

I was sent down into Kuching on 21st February for a few days.  One or two of my old Singapore Hash friends were there, but at that time had not started running.  I was surprised as they were keen Hashers but, being new to Borneo, it takes time to get the ball rolling.  So I can say without doubt, the Brunei Hash is the No. 3 Hash in the World.  I have seen a letter saying that I must have been wrong as the Kuching Hash was running "in 1968" - well all I can say is there must have been a misprint of my letter, as I have only been in Kuching in February 1963.  I answered that there would have been a Hash running in 1968 - but there was certainly none running in February 1963.

My last hash run was run no. 3 with the Brunei Hash and it was some 40 strong by then.  I had a further run with the Singapore Hash in March 1963, and then returned to the U.K.

What a world-wide orgainsation the Hash has now become - I have met Hash Housers in Hong Kong, Oman and Jersey C.I. and, of course, read about runs in Moscow and New York!  The South Oxfordshire Hash (just down the road from me in U.K.) had an International Hash Bash on Peppard Common last summer, a 3 day event, with Hashers from all over the world.

From small acorns etc. etc. etc.

Are you ON?

UPDATE: Although the Brunei H3 had established itself as the 3rd hash club ever, it would have an intermittent existence for at least the first couple years.  Similar to what Mother Hash experienced with WW II, the Brunei Hash had to deal with the Indonesian Army.  The end of the Brunei Revolt / Konfrontasi allowed for the return of regular hash runs again, and the rebirth of the Brunei H3.

The Rebirth of the Brunei H3
By Ed “Hazukashii” Howell

     The Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. Mother Hash) celebrated the 75th Anniversary of hashing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 9 Nov 2013.  As you would expect, there were many old hashmen about, and the environment was rich with hash history.  I started hashing in 1984, which for all intents and purposes is the modern era of the hash.  There have been many changes over the past 30 years, but much of what we see today can be traced back to the early days of hash.  A friend of mine, Ron “The Penguin” Strachan, who is no newcomer to the sport, started hashing in 1974 on the occasion of the 200th run of the Jakarta H3 in Indonesia, and was the Hash Master for the JH3 when they hosted Interhash III in 1982.  While Ron is no slacker in his depth of hash history, he introduced me to Gordon “Bent One” Benton.  Gordon, a Scot, was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, but did not begin his hash experience until 1965 while working abroad in Brunei.  An enthusiastic rugby player, he was eventually convinced by some co-workers to join the hash.  Cutting his teeth in the jungles of Brunei, Gordon had many a tale to tell of the early days of hash. 

     The original BH3 started out strong, but was disrupted when the Indonesian army infiltrated into the jungle making it unsafe to continue through the end of 1963 and into 1964.  Once the Konfrontasi was ending, the hash reappeared supported by participation of the British Army (a.k.a. Brunei Malay Regiment) and other expatriates that began to return on business.  There may have been a few occasional BH3 trails during 1964, but was not fully reborn until 1965 around the time that Gordon arrived.  In general terms, the BH3 held weekly hash events that consisted of meeting in various areas around the countryside, and the packs were usually less than 20 hashers.  The trails were hared live, with the two hares getting at least a 20 minute head start to set a trail of about 8-10 kilometers in length.  If on the odd occurrence that a hare was caught they were required to buy all the beer for the day.  In the tradition of Mother Hash, the Brunei H3 ran on Monday evenings with the trails starting precisely at 1700 in order to allow most of the pack to finish before dark.  Although there was no formal circle at that time, the hounds would hang around after the trail to drink a few beers from a bin with aluminum mugs.  These bins contained ice blocks and are believed to be the catalyst for the BH3 originating the fine tradition of sitting on the ice.  Although it was no formal occurrence, the ice blocks were used as a random punishment for a hasher who said or did something worthy of it.      

     There were very few “down-downs” as we see today, only the hares were recognized.  Gordon also credits the Brunei H3 with originating the “hashit” which was a small rabbit on his back paws, that was attached to the top of a can of Tiger Beer [seen below].  The following excerpt comes from the Brunei H3 Hash Trash dated 28 April 1966:


     "A Hash Award Committee (of one) was formed and unanimously decided that an award on the lines of a Golden Disc, Grammy, or Oscar should be presented for hashing and this award would be known as a "Hashit."  The "Hashit" Committee decided that this award would be made to the hares of the most hashed up run of the year." 


     As an avid and regular hasher, Gordon was the first to achieve the status of “Hectacourier” for running 100 trails with the BH3.  After four years, the inevitable reassignment came his way and he left for Jakarta in 1969.

The very first "Hashit" - Brunei H3 (1966).


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