Tag Archives: Fall of Singapore

Witness to War: Remembering 1942

A new World War Two exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore. When I heard of this upcoming exhibition, my first initial reaction, “Another World War Two exhibition? How different is this from the rest of the other exhibitions?” I wasn’t too sure and I am a bit skeptical on what this exhibition Witness to War: Remembering 1942 is going to showcase to the public.

As I entered into this exhibition for a sneak preview with the curators, prior to her official opening to the public. I knew this was going to be something different and special, it’s not your usual World War Two exhibition. Let me bring you through my experiential journey through my photos and story.

First and foremost, it’s indeed like an international exhibition blockbuster, with more than 130 artefacts from 10 overseas museums and institutions, some never-before-seen artefacts and untold real life stories and accounts of the fall of Singapore.

Catch some old vintage films first

At the beginning of the exhibtion, you would be greeted by different vintage films montage, showing key international events from 1914 to the late 1930s. Observe carefully and you can spot Singapore landscapes and sceneries inside some of the vintage films! The films montage does take your attention span and you might be glued to the big tv projector screens!

Walking down, entering into the central area of the exhibition galleries, you would be to view many artfacts on display, some are really big and you can’t miss them, some are small, don’t go too fast. While I am unable to write and share on every artefact on display, I would highlight and share on artefacts that personally stood out for me. Please visit my photograph album for this exhibition inside my Flickr collection.

New gems and rediscover cherished classics from National Collection

25-Pounder Field Gun

Japanese Army Bungle

Enfield No. 2 Mk. 1 revolver

World class artefacts from 10 overseas museums and institutions

Steel sword (katana) of Lieutanant General Tomoyuki Yamashita

Union Jack Flag

4 pods, 4 themes

Every pod has stories, real life stories from survivors. Visit the pods, sit down, watch and listen, feel, ponder and reflect.

I – Destruction

II – Displacement

III – Love & Loss

IIII – Fortitude

5 stations for children engagement, learning, participation and interaction

Experiential learning is one of the best ways in my personal opinion to learn, especially for young children. There are 5 stations inside the exhibition that the young children are able to engage, learn, participate and interact within and from the exhibition itself.

Student Archivist Project

In this exhibition, visitors can view the works of the next generation of storytellers, the students involvement in this exhibition making process, through their help in recording, preserving and sharing of the war survivors’ experiences. This is an excellent and most meaningful involement, to connect and bridge the different generations together, through inter-generational dialogue and bonding.

 

Sit down, reflect, leave a mark behind with your thoughts and feelings

At the end of the exhibition, I sat down and reflected on the latest exhibition to be held at the National Museum of Singapore. This wasn’t just another World War Two exhibition that I thought it would be, it’s something really different, something special and unique, the real life stories, heartwarming and heartwrenching at times, the interactions, engagements. There are some things that tugged the heart strings that made it very different and special from the other World War Two exhibitions. The exhibition has the engagements and interactions, ideal for parents to bring their children down to visit and learn more about the war that took place in Singapore, the history, the stories of our survivors. Let’s not take our peace, stability and security of Singapore for granted.

My own personal thoughts and feelings

At the nice table located at the end of the exhibition, sitted on the nice softa, I looked at the small piece of paper for me to pen down my thoughts and feelings of the whole exhibition, the stories from the World War Two survivors. Somehow or another, I couldn’t and I didn’t manage to write it down. I am going to return back to this exhibition again, tour it one more time slowly, observe and learn more about our World War Two history that never see, hear and feel before in other World War Two exhibitions. Of course, I am going to pen it down my thoughts and feelings, and drop into the letter box at the side of the table, for the survivors who shared their remarkable stories with us in this exhibition.

My initial skepticism of this World War Two exhibition had totally changed, this is not just another World War Two exhibition. The experiences, the stories and interactions with and inside the exhibiton make it special and unique. Only when you are there, you will be able to enter into this experiential journey to understand and learn more about the Witness to War: Remembering 1942.

Lest We Forget.

Exhibition details

Location: National Museum of Singapore Exhibition Galleries, Basement Level

Period: 23rd September 2017 to 25th March 2018

Opening hours: 10am to 7pm (last admission at 6.30pm)

Free admission for Citizens, Permanent Residents and visitors aged 6 years and below

If you do visit this exhibition, share your experiences, chronicle it on social media via the hashtag #remembering1942.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Battle for Singapore 2017 – 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore

On 15th February 2017, everyone of us needs to remember one of the important dates in Singapore’s history. 75 years ago, on 15th February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese and we entered into a period of history known as the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. It is very crucial and important for Singaporeans (especially for those that did not experience the Japanese Occupation of Singapore) today to learn more in depth on this part of our history.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, the National Heritage Board (NHB) has organised many different initiatives across the year 2017, starting from the annual Battle for Singapore commemorative event, starting from 16th February to 12th March 2017. There are different activities, guided walks, public talks and activities at the various Museum Roundtable (MR) museums to learn more about the events leading up to the Fall of Singapore, the stories of the Japanese Occupation from the survivors and veterans.

The Battle for Singapore 2017 commemorative events runs from 16th February to 12th March 2017, a total of 49 tours to 11 World War II (WWII) related sites and structures in Singapore. They are interesting and informative guided tours, I strongly encouraged my readers to sign up to learn and know more in depth of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. There are four new tours for the Battle for Singapore 2017 –

  • Singapore Occupied: This offers a visit to the buildings and sites that held the Japanese Broadcasting Department and the Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police) Headquarters, to name a few.
  • Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown – a WWII Trail: Walk through the heritage corridor from the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown cemetery, and hear the brownies share stories of WWII heroes and prominent personalities at heritage landmarks, including the Jacob Ballas Garden, old Raffles College as well as Former Command House. Explore the remnants and stories of the ‘kampong’ life that was once at Bukit Brown cemetery.
  • Fort Serapong @ Fort Siloso: Discover the fascinating structure of the former Fort Serapong, which was one of the three forts that were built at Pulau Blakang Mati to defend Singapore’s waterways.
  • The Last Days of Empire: Japanese Advance Along Bukit Timah Road, 1942: This walk attempts to tell the harrowing story of the battle based on the grim testimonies of the soldiers who fought in the last days of the British Empire.

(Information courtesy of National Heritage Board)

For more information, please visit www.museums.com.sg and check out their website for more details. Sign up for the guided tours begins on 6th February 2017 at 1000hrs, slots are limited and allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

During the media preview of the Battle for Singapore 2017, we went for one of the guided tours: The Last Days of Empire: Japanese Advance Along Bukit Timah Road 1942. Here are the details of this guided tour if you are keen to sign up when registration opens –

Tour dates: 25, 26 Feb; 4, 5 Mar 2017

Timings: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon

Meeting point: University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore

Let me share with you some stories and photos of the locations along this guided tour.

This tour is organised by the National University of Singapore, Southeast Asian Student’s Society in collaboration with National Heritage Board. The tour is led by Dr Mohamed Effendy and Syonan Gallery Docents. The start/meeting point is University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore.

There is a grass patch beside the entrance of University Cultural Centre, overlooking Clementi Road and Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE). Clementi Road connects to Upper Bukit Timah Road, whereby some of the heaviest fighting between the Japanese forces and British forces, as well as the Australian, Indian, Malay and Chinese volunteers took place along this stretch of road.

WWII marker near to Clementi Road and Dover Road

Our next stop was along Dover Road, at the edge of University Town, National University Singapore. Behind this bus stop, there is a World War II marker/plaque that marks the area where captured commandos from Operation Rimau in 1944 were behaded near Clementi Road and Dover Road. Having read up and research on World War II, I came across Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau, knew about these two operations conducted by the Allied forces. The location whereby the captured commandos of Operation Rimau was something that I didn’t know and from the tour, I learned something new that afternoon.

Junction of Clementi Road and Ulu Pandan Road

After Dover Road, we went on to the junction of Clementi Road and Ulu Pandan Road. I grew up in Clementi and Clementi West areas (and still living in this area), thus I know the area quite well. Dr Effendy shared on the importance of the hill on the left side of Ulu Pandan Road (where the Singapore Police Force had taken over the Mowbray Camp, formerly used by the Singapore Armed Fores). The area where Pine Grove now sits, was another high point where there were artillery guns placement to defend attackers coming in from the sea but not from inland, that’s where the Japanese came in from.

Junction of Clementi Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road/Bukit Timah Road

This is a major arterial road junction, with Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road leading to the city centre of Singapore, while Clementi Road leads towards Pasir Panjang followed by the harbour and city centre. Dr Effendy shared a few stories at this location, on how the Japanese forces advanced towards the city of Singapore.

Bukit Timah Hill (WWII marker at foot of Bukit Timah Hill)

The Bukit Timah area saw some of the heaviest fighting between the Japanese forces and Allied forces. Bukit Timah is a strategic and important location for both British (to defend) and Japanese forces (to attack). The Bukit Timah and Duneran Roads lead towards the city area. There is a WWII marker at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill, giving visitors information on the battles that took place in the Bukit Timah area during the Battle for Singapore in 1942.

Bukit Batok Hill – Syonan Chureito

A beautiful hill park, surrounded by nature and wildlife. This hill has some WWII history behind it, during the Japanese Occupation, a Shinto shrine and war memorial was built on this hill, to commemorate the fallen Japanese soldiers who were killed in action during the Battle for Singapore. Today, the only remains of the Syonan Chureito were the 121 concrete steps built by the prisoners of war.

Former Ford Factory – Syonan Gallery

During the media preview, the Syonan Gallery was not ready to host us thus we did not manage to visit the revamped Syonan Gallery at the Former Ford Factory. This would be the end point for this guided tour. I would try to arrange my timing and schedule, I would visit the revamped Syonan Gallery and add on to below after my visit.

Attending a guided tour is good, informative and interesting. Listening to the subject matter experts do give you a greater, wider and more insights into the history for the Battle of Singapore. Do sign up for the different guided walks that you are interested in.

I am planning to sign up for a few guided tours that I am interested in. I would share my stories and photos after attending the guided tours that I signed up, stay tuned!

* I would like to thank National Heritage Board the invitation to the Battle for Singapore 2017 preview event *