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Singapore Japanese Invasion Memorials

For Fort Silso see www.fortsiloso.com. Many thanks to Peter Stubbs for his contributions and photographs on this page.

The Shrine, called Victory Hill, is long gone but you can still walk up the 121 steps. It was demolished by the British in 1956 and the material used as hard core for roadways. As the monument was being created, the Japanese created a hole down the centre. Once completed the ashes of all those Japanese soldiers who had been cremated were systematically placed in this centre cavity. Also placed in the cavilty were the remains of many victims of Japanese torture up to the end of March 1942. Included were a number of nurses and others who had fulfilled their duties as comfort women.

This is mostly recorded in the Singapore history department.

The photograph was taken in September 1942 on Bukit Batok Hill, overlooking the Bukit Timah Road, Singapore, very near to the old Ford Factory. Using British and Australian POW labour the Japanese built a shrine to their war dead and the POWs were permitted to erect a 10 foot wooden cross to commemorate their own dead. This was something of a propaganda exercise with photographs and a front page report in the Syonan Times - Japanese controlled Straits Times - of September 11th 1942. Quote: "Memorial erected to Fallen Enemy Soldiers: Spirit of Bushido reflected in our Army's gesture."

Above from the notice board

 


From the Syonan Times
15th April 1942

LETTER ON NOTICE BOARD AT BUKIT BATOK
at the foot of the steps in 1993.

From: S. Hannam,
PO Box 460,
Hermit Park,
Queensland 4812,
Australia.

8 March 1981

To: The City Administrator, Singapore City Council, City of Singapore.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you in the hope that what I suggest may come to pass.

Last year I visited Singapore with my family for the first time since I was a prisoner of war there in 1945. I was a Captain in the 2/26 Battalion, 8 Division AIF and I worked in working parties under Japanese control on the golf links, Adam Park, building a bridge across the arm of the McRitchie Reservoir, Hindhede quarry at Bukit Timah breaking rocks for a shrine (so we were told), lived in deserted houses in Fourth Avenue Bukit Timah, lived in attap barracks at Great World and Happy World, Havelock Road and River Valley Road on Godown work parties, and while at Fourth Avenue, together with many Australians POWs, we constructed a road straight up a hill called Bukit Batok. Some of us cut the top off this hill while others were widening the roadway lower down, others built a broad flight of concrete steps from the level parking area to the now flattened top of the hill where a tall electric light pole was erected and concreted in. Before erection a "V" for victory was carved into the pointed top before being capped. A small shrine was erected by Japanese soldiers in memory of their dead and a Christian cross was erected behind it in memory of our dead. We cut up bitumen drums, heated and spread the bitumen on the road. It was a regular ritual for the crew of any Japanese naval vessel to ride up in busses to the parking area, line up at the foot of the concrete steps and on command, march up the steps in their immaculate white uniforms and on reaching the top, bow to the shrine, break off and nonchalantly take photographs.

When Japan finally capitulated the relieving troops arrived with Lord Louis Mountbatten (we affectionately called him "Louis the Laggard" because he took so long to come), I had the opportunity to show one of the relieving officers what we had done and on visiting Bukit Batok, was surprised to see that the pole had been chopped down and the shrine burnt. Just who would have done that, I have no idea.

With all these memories, imagine my surprise to see the road we built all those years ago now named Lorong Sesuai, and to find a telecom installation command at the top and an access road cut through the concrete steps. We walked up the remaining steps, One hundred and twenty one in number, for memories sake. I could not help feeling that there was a little piece of history that probably half the population of Singapore knows nothing about - not having been born.

With respect I suggest a weatherproof notice board be erected at the foot of the steps to commemorate this little bit of history created during the occupation of Singapore 1942 to 1945 and the work done some its Australian POWs.

I must say, I was greatly heartened when I visited Selarang Barracks at Changi to find such a notice board commemorating the infamous "Selarang Square Incident" when seventeen thousand POWs were forced to vacate their buildings and be exposed for four to five days on the square without water or sanitation for refusing to sign "I PROMISE NOT TO ESCAPE" form which the Japanese captors demanded. To my mind this incident ranks only to the "Black Hole of Calcutta".

Trusting my suggestion meets with your approval, I would be very happy to learn that such a board with suitable explanation would be erected and maintained by the city or other willing organisation.

I congratulate the city and people responsible for the care and maintenance of the Kranji War Memorial Cemetery. Such a beautiful place for all those wasted lives.

A copy of this letter is being sent to the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board. I remain,

Yours faithfully,

S.Hannam

ON NOTICE BOARD AT BUKIT BATOK

THE BATTLE FOR SINGAPORE - BUKIT BATOK

After the Japanese victory, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Commander in Chief of the Japanese armed forces, ordered the construction of a memorial to the Japanese soldiers who died in the battle for Singapore.

Bukit Batok, a four hundred foot high hill opposite Bukit Timah was chosen as the site for the monument. This was the very area where the fiercest fighting in Singapore took place resulting in many deaths for both the Japanese and Allied forces. Nearby is the Ford Motor Company factory where General Arthur Percival signed the unconditional surrender of Singapore on 15 February 1942.

Five hundred Australian prisoners of war encamped at Sime Road and Adam Park were marched back and forth each day between the job site and the camp and worked tirelessly until the job was completed. A bitumen surfaced road was first built leading up to the hill, followed by the construction of a parking lot and concrete steps. Finally the simple but dignified memorial and Shinto shrine were erected.

The memorial rose from two tiers of earth and cement on which stood a forty foot high wooden pylon capped with a brass cone. A plain, stout, wooden fence surrounded the memorial, and a short distance towards the back a simple cross was erected as a memorial to the Allied forces soldiers who died during the battle for Singapore.

The idea of building a monument for the British dead was first suggested by a Japanese commander, Colonel Yasuji Tamura who convinced General Yamashita to build the monument for humane reasons. General Yamashita agreed at a later stage to include the cross as a monument for the allied soldiers.

The allied soldiers received the monument with a mixed reaction. On one hand, they were pleased to have a place for the ashes of their fellow allied soldiers. However the allied soldiers felt resentment and those working in the area used to drop a matchbox of white ants at the base of the monument.

Today, nothing remains of the memorial or the shrine except for these 125 concrete steps and an access road now renamed Lorong Sesuai. On the site of the monument now stands a television transmitting mast.

The following units of the Royal Australian Artillery Regiments were responsible for the construction of the memorial:

Artillery - 2/10 Field Regiment 2/15 Field Regiment 4th Anti Tank Regiment

Infantry - 2/26 Battalion AASC

Japanese Engineering Company. ??

This photograph was taken during World War II. The caption reads 'Bataille de Singapour (suite)'.

The photograph is from the Singapore National Archives, and is entitled "Japanese Soldiers & The British Prisoners-Of-War (POW) Give Last Salute To British Soldiers Who Had Died In Burma". Photo CD No: 19980005771-8106-3181-7858, Image No: 0012. Accession No. 127858, dated 15th June 1942.

Those who were asked were fairly certain that the photo is at the base of Victory hill. The small slopes at Woodland did not have so much raw vegitation it was mainly cultivated. It is also supposed that it could have been Bukit Timar hill where the radio mast was situated.

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