Monday, 19 January 2015

Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery



It's been getting on for a year since I visited here with a few friends and they've long given up asking me when I'll write this post. To be honest where do I start? What should I say? How do I do this place justice? As I start writing now I have no idea how this will go and where my thoughts and my fingers will take me....

Set in the North of Singapore, on a hill overlooking Johor Bahru in Malaysia which is just 2 mile away. It overlooks the road where the Japanese crossed over to Singapore and fought their first battle, on the 9 Feb 1942. Quiet, peaceful and serene, a world away from the norm of Singapore, not a HDB, Condo or shopping mall insight. Here for ever remain the bodies and memories of too, too many serviceman and civilians that gave their lives in conflict. This site is home to not just the War Memorial but also the War cemetery, state cemetery and military graves.


Unknown soldiers

The site was previously a military camp and an ammunition dump before WWII. During the Occupation it became one of many POW camps across Singapore and a hospital was established close by with a burial ground. Naturally by the end of the war it was already a military cemetery but was given the status of war cemetery by 1946. It is, like the others across the world, managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and buried or remembered here are allied servicemen from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya and The Netherlands.


Stone of Remembrance

You enter along a small road from the main road close to Kanji MRT and pass through gates until you reach the entrance. Here you will find the register of those listed on the memorial and of where others are buried, this in itself is thought provoking when you see row after row of names. From here you ascend up the hill from the Stone of Remembrance, towards the Cross of Sacrifice and onwards to The War Memorial.





The war memorial was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes and represents the 3 different services, Army, Navy and Air Force. On the walls of the memorial are the names of 24,346 serviceman who gave their lives around Singapore, Malaya and SE Asia, but these are just the names as their remains have never been located.


too many names. name after name.... 
....after name

The columns/pillars represent those who served in the army, as an army marches in columns, the "wing" across the top of the columns represents the Air Force and the wing of a plane. A top this, in the centre is the "sail" for the Navy



The cemetery is home to 4,465 allied serviceman of which 850 are unknown. The numbers are so hard to get your head around and this is just one of too many war cemeteries and memorials across the globe. In the North of the cemetery you will find the 2 graves of Singapores first two Presidents, Inche Yusuf Bin Ishak, who was President in 1959 and saw Singapore gain its independence in 1965 until his successor Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares came to power in 1970. To the West lies 255 Commonwealth Military graves of those who died during the Malayan and Indonesian conflicts, Konfrontasi and Communist insurgency.

The final rating place of Singapore's 2nd Presidents Dr Benjamin Sheares
More modern times and conflict, died Sarawak in 1965

There is a Chinese memorial for 69 Chinese that were killed by the Japanese in Feb 1942 when they invaded Singapore. These are buried in a mass grave. To the East is the General Hospital graves memorial for 107 serviceman and 300 civilians of different nationalities and religions who died during the occupation.

Memorial to a First World War member of the Singapore Volunteer Infantry who grave was at the Chinese cemetery on Alexander Road and which has now been lost.

There are 64 graves from WWI and 3 memorials for graves of people that were originally buried in Indochina (Vietnam) and who were relocated from Saigon. There is also an area of the site for a memorial to the 789 Indian serviceman who died and were cremated according to their beliefs. Many of the graves here are for people who died at the POW camps across the land, Changi, Buona Vista and more. There are 306 graves that were originally interred at Ulu Pandan (South East) and 61 from Bidadari Christian Cemetery (central East) and sadly many, many more.

One of the few graves from the First World War originally buried in Saigon
Ashes of the Gurkha's and their families originally buries at Pasir Panjang and Ulu Pandan 

Looking back at what I have written its just a list, after list of nationalities and of religions all who gave their life in just this small corner of the world, in a short period of human history. All hoping that it would make a difference. Clearly then it did, but what has humanity learnt? Just looking back over 2014 and then in Paris at the start of this year, have we moved forward or indeed are we progressing backward, and where will this all end?

Row after row........
Lovingly and immaculately tended



The Cross of Sacrifice in front of the War Memorial
Memorial and mass grave to those soldiers that died at the hospital in February 1942 when the Japanese invaded just a short couple of miles away

Just 18.



Please if you get the opportunity visit here, although you can't call it a happy place by no means is it sad, but tranquil, calm and thought provoking.

Less we Forget.

Kranji War Memorial
9 Woodlands Road
Singapore
738656
open daily 07:00-18:30