ON NOTICE BOARD AT BUKIT BATOK
at the foot of the steps in 1993.
PO Box 460,
8 March 1981
The City Administrator, Singapore City Council, City of Singapore.
am writing to you in the hope that what I suggest may come to
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
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
copy of this letter is being sent to the Singapore Tourist Promotion
Board. I remain,
ON NOTICE BOARD AT BUKIT BATOK
BATTLE FOR SINGAPORE - BUKIT BATOK
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
following units of the Royal Australian Artillery Regiments were
responsible for the construction of the memorial:
- 2/10 Field Regiment 2/15 Field Regiment 4th Anti Tank Regiment
- 2/26 Battalion AASC
Engineering Company. ??