The National Heritage Board commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore

SINGAPORE, 2 February 2012 – 70 years ago, our forefathers and the British government in Singapore fought to defend Singapore against the invading Japanese army. They did not flinch in the face of war damage, loss of lives and much hardship. Today, in the peace and prosperity that Singapore has known for years, we remember this dark chapter in our history, but more importantly, we honour and learn from the resilience and strength of spirit that the earlier generations showed in this period.

2. 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Singapore, a significant and poignant chapter in Singapore’s history. In commemoration, the National Heritage Board (NHB), together with partners such as the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) and Singapore History Consultants (SHC), will be launching a variety of activities to raise public awareness and engage the community, especially the post-war generations. The public, especially those who did not go through this period, would be able to experience and reflect on life during the Battle for Singapore, through trails, tours and exhibitions.

3. Michael Koh, CEO for the NHB said, “NHB is committed to telling the Singapore Story, of which the battle for Singapore is a very significant chapter. NHB’s commemorative efforts, which actively involve partners such as local history experts, war survivors, and students, bring together many different voices to present this momentous event to Singaporeans. We especially want to remember, and learn from, our forefathers’ sheer grit, strength and unity in surviving those hard times.”

World War II Trail and Resilience Trails

4. NHB is launching a new World War II Trail to link up the 14 existing World War II markers with six new ones to present a more coherent story of the war and its impact on Singapore. The public can look forward to new content on this self-guided trail as well as a complementary trail booklet.

5. Those who are more adventurous can sign up for a more exciting hike over a longer distance, and in some instances, rougher terrain. The Resilience Trails developed by NHB, the Resilience Marketing Division from the Ministry of Information Communications and the Arts (MICA), and SHC, are thematic walking trails which incorporate sites from the World War II Trail. These aim to imbue participants with a positive can-do spirit through stories of Singapore’s experiences in World War II and other major events that have shaped our nation.

Exhibitions, Tours and Talks

6. NHB and SHS will be presenting 4 Days in February: Adam Park the Last Battle – an exhibition on the significance of Adam Park as an important battle site, including artefacts unearthed during archaeological digs carried out last year. Complementing it is Images of Internment: The Eye & Art of William Haxworth, an exhibition featuring images of life during the war from the National Archives of Singapore’s collection. It will showcase the Battle for Singapore through the eyes (and art) of William Haxworth, a former Prisoner-of-War (PoW), drawings by Singapore pioneer artist Liu Kang, and sketches by Mr Chia Chew Soo who witnessed the massacre of his family at his Pasir Panjang home.

7. In addition to the visual experience from the exhibitions, Singaporeans will be able to listen to the Voices of our Darkest Hour as local World War II survivors relate their tales at commemorative talks held at Memories at Old Ford Factory, where the British formally surrendered to the Japanese.

8. Also, Singaporeans who have never seen an air raid shelter will have the opportunity to do so through specially organised tours at what is possibly the last pre-war civilian air raid shelter in Singapore. They can also learn more about air raid shelters in pre-war and war-time Singapore in an exhibition at the neighbouring Tiong Bahru market.

Remembrance Ceremony

9. The culmination of these events is the Remembrance Ceremony at Kranji War Memorial on February 15, marking the actual day of British surrender and the end of the Battle for Singapore. This ceremony, attended by representatives from the Singapore Government, Embassies, military, war veterans from Singapore and the Asia Pacific region, and student uniform groups, is a solemn salute to those who fell in the Battle.

10. The Battle for Singapore may have been the darkest period in the Singapore Story, but some of our most inspirational stories arose from this event. Through our commemorative events, we not only remember these stories, we also live them in the present, and understand them for our future.


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