Tag Archives: World War II

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 *

New Permanent Galleries – A New Look, A New Experience

Singapore’s historical and iconic 128 years old National Museum of Singapore, underwent major redevelopment since 2006. This year 2015, Singapore’s Golden Jubilee Year, the National Museum of Singapore marks another milestone in the Museum’s transformation since 2006 with the re-opening of the Permanent Galleries to the public once again on 19th September 2015.

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Not only were there major redevelopments, the National Museum of Singapore begun to further and better engage the public, both Singaporeans and visitors alike, through many festivals, events and social media. The new Permanent Galleries at the National Museum of Singapore are going to provide visitors with a very interactive, engaging, story telling, personal and emotional experiential experiences. Visitors young and old, to the new Permanent Galleries, there are something for them. For the older generation, it’s going back in time to their childhood and adult days, in the early days of Singapore. This would be a good idea and bonding time with their grandchildren to let them learn more and experience the times that their grandparents went through. As for the younger generation, this would be a great way to learn about Singapore’s early history, culture and transformation.

Let me bring you through a tour of the new Permanent Galleries at the National Museum of Singapore, through my short stories and photographs, for a day at the National Museum of Singapore –

Singapore History Gallery

Take a walk, for an interactive and engaging time to view, feel and understand more in-depth of Singapore’s history, through four distinct eras, Singapura (1299–1818), Crown Colony (1819–1941), Syonan-To (1942–1945), and Singapore (1945 to the present). The Singapore History Gallery allows the visitors to have a multi-sensory and participatory experience via the use of audio-visual multimedia and an interactive map in the Global City section.

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There are some amazing historical artifacts, photographs and replicas inside the Singapore History Gallery. When I was walking through the History Gallery, it was immersive and engaging for the mind and soul. It dawned upon me that Singapore’s history goes way back in time even before her independence in 1965 and there were many more information, history and culture of Singapore that we do not really know about, especially on the Singapura era (1299–1818) and Crown Colony (1819–1941).

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There are only four distinct sections in the Singapore History Gallery, yet there are many things to view and learn. I believe each and every visitor will have a favourite section during their visit to the History Gallery. One of my favourite setion is at the end of the History Gallery, where there is an old HDB flat mock up and a big tree with sounds of birds chirping. These two segments striked a chord inside my heart and soul, my growing up years and my love for nature and outdoors.

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Oh yes, before I bring you to the other segments of the new Permanent Galleries, remember to spot this World War II tank inside the Singapore History Gallery!

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Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years

On the second level of the National Museum of Singapore, that is where the other Permanent Galleries are located. What was the lifestyle, culture and society like in Singapore, the life in Singapore that our forefathers, our grandparents (and great grandparents) lived in?

Modern Colony (1925 – 1935)

The colonial days in Singapore when she started the first step towards becoming a “modern city” in the colonial times.

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Surviving Syonan (1942 – 1945)

The World War II was a period of suffering for Singapore and walking inside this gallery, we can learn more about the resourcefulness and resilience of people who endured the Japanese Occupation through their personal accounts.

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Growing Up (1955 – 1965)

The period of growing up in Singapore, through the eyes of a child growing up alongside the nation. Although I wasn’t born in this era, it was very nostalgic for me because I spotted the childhood games that I grew up playing with e.g. marbles, slingshot, badminton, cycling (when there were no internet, smartphones, computers and social media).

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Voices of Singapore (1975 – 1985)

The Voices of Singapore showcases the creativity and self-expression in arts and culture through the Singaporens stories and experiences that created the Singaporean identity, the spirit of multi-racial diversity, social resilience and shared values that make up the Singaporean identity and character.

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The new Permanent Galleries in the National Museum of Singapore is very refreshing, interactive, engaging and it’s new! I strongly encourage everyone to visit the National Museum of Singapore and take a walk through Singapore’s timeline at the new Permanent Galleries. It promises to be an enriching and engaging experience for all, young and old.

It’s time for A Night (Day) at the Museum !


Created with flickr slideshow.

Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter Heritage Tour

In one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates, Tiong Bahru, there lies a very interesting place/trail that not many Singaporeans know about that is right beneath their homes. Located at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street lies an air raid shelter that is 1,500 sqm in floor size! The Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter was first opened to the public for guided tours in 2013, I didn’t manage to join the guided tour and visit the Air Raid Shelter. When National Heritage Board (NHB) organised guided tours for February 8th and 15th 2014, I managed to sign up for the last tour on 15th February 2014 and it was an eye opener to learn and know more about Singapore’s past, and explored a significant part of Singapore’s history that not many knew about.

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The Air Raid Shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street is of great importance and significance because it is the only public housing building by the Singapore Improvement Trust to have an Air Raid Shelter built as part of its design and it is also the last remaining pre-war civilian Air Raid Shelter still in existence today (Source: National Heritage Board)

Joining a group of heritage enthusiasts in the guided heritage walk inside the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter, I got to see what it could be like during World War 2 when the bombs were dropping on Singapore. Our heritage guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable in sharing her research and stories about the Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter with the participants. Walking inside the Air Raid Shelter can be pretty stuffy and perspiring, due to the limited ventilation outlets, this allowed the participants to have a feel and idea of how the people felt when they were hiding inside the Air Raid Shelter during World War 2 when the Japanese bombed Singapore. It wasn’t comfortable and with the bombing above them, those were indeed very tough and dark times during Singapore’s history that we must not forget.

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As the guided tour finished, I added another tick to my list of Old Places Exploration in Singapore. The guided tour was enriching and an eye-opener to the history and heritage of Singapore that we must preserve and conserve. Joining heritage tours organised by NHB gave me more details and knowledge beyond history books and websites, the tours gave me a feel of our history, heritage and stories behind them.

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For more information on Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter, you can check out the link here to NHB website. Do keep a look out on NHB and I Love Museum websites when they announce guided tours for Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter in the future!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Total Defence Day 2013

This day, the 15th February is an important and significant day in Singapore’s history. In the year 1942, on the 15th February, Singapore fell to Japanese control when the British forces led by General Percival surrendered at 1820hrs to the Japanese Army. Every 15th February marks Total Defence Day, it also marks the anniversary of the surrender of Singapore during World War II.  Total Defence is for everybody to play a part no matter how big or small, in everyday aspects of our life from all walks of the society, to make our country Singapore, more resilient.

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15th February 2013 marks the 71st Anniversary of the surrender of Singapore during World War II.  The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) organised commemoration events in conjunction with Total Defence Day. I was invited by MINDEF Public Affairs to a private military event a Weapons Presentation Ceremony for the new recruits of 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards at War Memorial Park, which was part of 2013 Total Defence Day events.

The Weapons Presentation Ceremony is a special and unique event for the recruits during Basic Military Training when they made the symbolic first step from recruits into soldiers. This kind of ceremony is usually private and held in SAF camps or a place of historical significance. Being a former soldier that served my National Service, I went through the Weapons Presentation Ceremony before, in my camp. It was an important event and significant for the recruits that were presented with the weapons to defend our country Singapore.

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War Memorial Park is an ideal location for the Weapons Presentation Ceremony, it was constructed to remember all the civilian lives lost during World War II. The 61 meters tall monument, consisting of four columns, representing the four races in Singapore, joined at the base, signifying the unity of all the races. The new recruits of 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards; that were presented with their weapons at the War Memorial Park, would deeply remember their role, purpose, significance and importance of their roles in defending Singapore as a soldier of the Singapore Armed Forces. The Total Defence Day event on 15th February 2013, started with the placement of wreath by ceremonial military police, followed by the Last Post (Bugle Call) and the Observation of 1-minute of silence. It was a sombre moment with the Last Post being sounded and the moment of silence, reminding us of the fallen civilians during World War II. At 1820hrs, the weapons were presented to the recruits of 1st Battalion Singapore Guards, the approximate time when General Percival of the British forces signed the surrender agreement of Singapore in 1942.

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The weapons presentation was also attended and observed by family members of the recruits of the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards. Watching the weapons presentation ceremony from the sidelines, this brought back my National Service memories when I also went through the ceremony. After the weapons were all presented to the recruits, it was followed by the Recitation of the Weapon Pledge, the Recitation of the SAF Pledge and lastly the National Anthem of Singapore.

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While this marked the end of the ceremony and Total Defence Day 2013, their importance and significance must never be forgotten. Lest We Forget Total Defence Day. I would like to say a big Thank You to MINDEF Public Affairs for this special invitation to attend and observe this special ceremony.