This chronology of the Japanese invasion was compiled by James Tann, a heritage blogger,  in the lead up to the  72nd anniversary  of the fall of Singapore on 15 February, 1942.

Feb 8, 1942.
The Japanese Army invasion of Singapore Island begins with the crossing at Lim Chu Kang.

Feb 8 Australian War Museum

Photo credit Australian War Memorial

February 9, 1942.
Having landed the night before along the Lim Chu Kang coast, by the afternoon of 9th Feb, Tengah Airfield was in the hands of the invading Japanese Imperial Army.

Feb 9

Also on 9 Feb, the Japanese Army opened a 2nd battle front by landing the Imperial Guards Division at Kranji and the Causeway. This Division was to move east heading towards the Sembawang & Thomson regions.

The Jurong-Kranji Line – 9th February, 1942.
The Allied forces formed a futile blockade called the ‘Jurong Line’ stretching east of Tengah Airfield, through Bulim to the Jurong River (where Chinese Garden is today) to try and contain the Japanese forces within the western sector of Singapore.

By evening of 9th Feb 1942, the Jurong Line had collapsed completely due to miscommunication. The main Australian 22nd Brigade retreated, resulting in a domino effect leading other units to retreat as well.

Luckily for them, the Japanese forces did not press their advantage as they had to wait for reinforcements and logistic supplies to follow up across the Straits to continue the invasion.

Map 9 Feb James Tann

Map of the battle lines by James Tann

You can also read how a jungle dirt track saved the lives of 400 soldiers by James Tann here

10th Feb 1942.
The capture of Bukit Panjang and the massacre at Bukit Batok.

With the overnight collapse of the ‘Jurong Line’ blockade, the Japanese 5th Division easily manoeuvred down Choa Chu Kang Road and overpowered the defences by the Argylls & Sutherland Highlanders and the Hyderabad Regiment at Keat Hong. Pushing them back all the way to Bukit Panjang Village. It was the first encounter with Japanese tanks in Singapore by the British.

By the early afternoon, Bukit Panjang Village had fallen to the Japanese. Some British units managed to escape through the farmlands of Cheng Hwa and eventually followed the water pipeline down to British lines near the Turf Club region.

Intending to re-establish the ‘Jurong Line’, the British High Command despatched 2 battalions from Ulu Pandan to Bukit Batok (West Bukit Timah).
X Battalion made it way to 9ms Jurong Road (opp today’s Bukit View Sec Sch), while Merret Force lost its way and camped at Hill 85 (Toh Guan Road today).

The Japanese 18th Div coming down Jurong Road encountered both X Battalion and Merret Force during the night. X Bn, caught totally off guard, was annihilated and lost over 280 men, while Merret Force had half its force killed in the ambush.

The Japanese Commander, Gen Yamashita, had ordered both his 5th and 18th Division to take Bukit Timah Village and Bukit Timah Hill by the 11th Feb. Thus, both units were in a frenzied rush to capture the strategic high point.
By midnight of 10th Feb, Bukit Timah Village was ablaze and effectively conquered by the invasion force.

Photo credits: Australian War Memorial
1. Japanese soldiers at Bukit Timah Hill
2. Japanese Type 95 HaGo Light Tanks in Bukit Timah Village

10 Feb Japanese soldiers at Bukit Timah hill

10 Feb Japanese soldiers at Bukit Timah hill (photo Australian War Memorial)

10 Feb Japanese Type 95 HaGo Light Tanks in Bukit Timah Village

10 Feb Japanese Type 95 HaGo Light Tanks in Bukit Timah Village (photo Australian War Memorial)

Map 10 Feb by James Tann

Map of battle lines on 10 Feb by James Tann

11th February 1942.
The Fall of Bukit Timah Hill and the Tragedy at Sleepy Valley.

By the time Gen.Yamashita’s army crossed into Singapore, he was critically short of supplies, fuel, ammunition and even food for his troops. His strategy was thus to conduct a tropical blitzkrieg – ‘hit them fast hit them hard’ – to capture Bukit Timah. It being the high point for observation also held the British ammunition, food and fuel depots which he coveted.

To raise morale of his troops, he set Feb 11 as the day to capture Bukit Timah Hill. The significance of Feb 11 was that it was the Japanese Kigensetsu, the day they celebrate the ascension of the 1st Emperor and the founding of the Japanese Empire. The task was assigned to competing 5th and 18th Divisions with untold glory going to the unit achieving the objective first.

By midnight of 10th Feb, both units had already reached Bukit Timah Village and the resultant battle against the British defenders set the entire region ablaze. The British retreated and held their line at Reformatory Road (Clementi Road)

By early morning of the 11th, the Japanese had secured Bukit Timah Hill.

Meanwhile back at Bukit Batok…
By the morning of 11 Feb, the senior commander of 15th Brigade, Brigadier Coates, who was to lead the re-taking of the Jurong Line, knew that the Japanese had surrounded his position. He cancelled the order and proceeded to retreat, together with the Special Reserve Battalion, back to allied lines at Ulu Pandan.

Forming 3 columns consisting of 1500 men from the British, Indian and Australian units, they proceeded from Bukit Batok to cross an area called Sleepy Valley.

Unknown to them, the Japanese 18th Division was already waiting to spring their trap on the British soldiers.

What happened next is a seldom mentioned debacle which actually had the highest number of casualties of any skirmish within Singapore during the war. The firefight that took place at Sleepy Valley took the lives of 1100 allied soldiers out of the 1500 who entered that valley of death.

Throughout the day, the British sent in reinforcements to try and re-take Bukit Timah. However, both Tomforce and Massey Force could do little to dislodge the Japanese.

When Bukit Timah Hill fell, Gen Percival moved his HQ from Sime Road to Fort Canning. The fear of the approaching Japanese Army also led them to destroy the infamous 15” Guns at Buona Vista Camp at Ulu Pandan that morning. It was a sign that things had come to bear…

11 Feb Japanese soldiers

Japanese soldiers at Bukit Timah Village (photo Australian War Memorial)

11 Feb General

General Tomoyuki Yamashita (photo Australian War Memorial)

11 Feb

Johore Battery 15″ Gun. Changi (Australian War Memorial)

 

12th Feb 1942.
Yamashita’s Ultimatum.

Tomforce’s attempt to re-take Bukit Timah and Bukti Panjang ended in futility. Unknown to them, they were up against the battle hardened Japanese 56th and 114th Regiments of the 18th IJA Division, Yamashita’s crack troops, who had fought all the way from China.

By the morning of 12th Feb, the British lines were being pushed backed.
Tomforce fell back from Reformatory (Clementi) Road to Racecourse when the Japanese overran the supply depots at Rifle Range. By the end of the day they would retreat all the way back to Adam and Farrer Road.

By then, Gen Percival had redrawn the defence line.
Massey Force would protect the waterworks from Thomson Village to the east of the MacRitchie golf links, where the former HQ at Sime Road was.
Gen Heath’s British units would fall back from Nee Soon, having abandoned the Naval Base, and form the line from Braddell to Kallang.
In the west, the Australians fell back from Reformatory Road to Holland Road (Old Holland Road), while the 44th Indian Brigade formed the line from Ulu Pandan to Pasir Panjang. Sporadic fighting occurred throughout the day along the line.

Elated with the capture of Bukit Timah, Gen.Yamashita was still faced with logistical problems including a critical shortage of ammunition. He knew he wouldn’t be able to last out in a war of attrition and thus resorted to his plan to bluff the British into surrendering, by dropping ultimatum notes into the British lines.

“To the High Command of the British Army, Singapore”

I, the High Command of the Nippon Army have the honour of presenting this note to Your Excellency advising you to surrender the whole force in Malaya.

My sincere respect is due to your army…bravely defending Singapore which now stands isolated and unaided…..futile resistance would only serve to inflict direct harm and injuries to thousands of non-combatants….Give up this meaningless and desperate resistance…If Your Excellency should neglect my advice, I shall be obliged, though reluctantly from humanitarian considerations to order my army to make annihilating attacks..”

(signed) Tomoyuki Yamashita”

Getting no response to his ultimatum message, Yamashita sent his units on probing incursions along the line.
These took place mainly at Sime Road and Pasir Panjang near Normanton.
He had no intention to enter the city as he knew he did not have the resources to fight a street to street battle.

Ian Saggers, Perth Australia.

Major Bert Saggers was CO of the Special Reserve Bn that was ambushed at Sleepy Valley. He survived and made his way to Ulu Pandan where he found only 80 of his 420 men alive but all his officers killed. (photo Ian Saggers, Perth Australia )

12 Feb Lt Jimmy Till

Lt Jimmy Till was an officer in Bert Sagger’s unit. He was buried near the spot where he was killed. This was near where today’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic Alumni Clubhouse stands. Picture is his grave now at Kranji War Memorial. (photo James Tann)

 

13th Feb 1942.
The noose tightens around Singapore City.

With the core of Singapore Island firmly in the hands of the Japanese Army, Gen.Yamashita moved his HQ from Tengah to the Ford Motors factory at Bukit Timah.

Strangely, the previous day ended somewhat with a lull in the fighting.
This allowed Gen Percival to continue finalising his last line of defence.
From Kallang Airfield to Paya Lebar, Paya Lebar to Braddell, Thomson Village to Adam Park, Adam Road to Farrer Road to Tanglin Halt, from Buona Vista across Pasir Panjang ending at Pasir Panjang Village.
The last unit to pull out , the 53rd Brigade, left Ang Mo Kio area around noon and the traffic along Thomson Road was so choked that Japanese planes had an easy time strafing the columns along the route.

Gen.Yamashita had actually feared that Gen.Percival would dig in and fight to the last.
In order to continue his feint, despite running low on ammunition and men, he launched attacks to give the British the appearance of Japanese strength.
He ordered the crack 18th Division to take Alexandra Barracks and the 5th Div & the Imperial Guards to attack the Waterworks at MacRitchie and the pumping station at Woodleigh.

Alexandra Barracks was the main British Army Ordnance Depot, where most of their equipment, stores and fuel storage, as well as the main Alexandra Military Hospital, were located
The attack on Alexandra Barracks began from Pasir Panjang (Kent Ridge) after 2 hours of heavy shelling at noon.
Waves of Japanese soldiers fought determined defenders from the 1st Malaya Brigade and the 44th Indian Brigade. Fighting was vicious and often hand to hand. The Malay Regiments were slowly overpowered with the Japanese winning height after height. The Gap, Pasir Panjang Hill III, Opium Hill, Buona Vista Hill, would fall one after the other but fighting would continue till the following day.

Over at MacRitchie, the Japanese 5th Division fought the 55th Brigade (1 Cambridgeshire & 4 Suffolk Regiments) to gain control of the reservoir. An all night tough fight including tanks forced the British Regiments all the way back to Mount Pleasant Road across Bukit Brown cemetery. The Suffolks lost over 250 men defending their ground.

The Japanese Army was now within 5 kilometres of the City on 2 fronts.

All this while, civilians casualties were mounting in the collateral damage from the Japanese shelling.
The City now had up to 1 million evacuees, most in dire straits without shelter, food nor water.

An Officer was to record travelling down Orchard Road:
“Buildings on both side went up in smoke…civilians appeared through clouds of debris; some got on the road, others stumbled and dropped in their tracks, others shrieked as they ran for safety. We pulled up near a building which had collapsed, it looked like a slaughter house; blood splashed, chunks of human being littered the place. Everywhere bits of steaming flesh, smouldering rags, clouds of dust and the groans of those who still survived.”

At the Battlebox, the new HQ at Fort Canning, Gen.Percival and his senior commanders were contemplating the latest orders from Gen.Wavell as well as an order from Churchill.

13 Feb Smoke arising from bombardment of Singapore City Feb 1942 Australian War Memorial

13 Feb:  Smoke arising from bombardment of Singapore City Feb 1942 (photo Australian War Memorial

13 Feb

14th Feb 1942.
Prelude to Capitulation

Throughout the night of 13/14th Feb, sporadic skirmishes occurred both at Pasir Panjang and Adam Road.

At daylight 8.30am at Pasir Panjang Ridge , the Japanese charged up for a final assault on Hill 226 and Opium Hill facing heavy resistance from the 1st Malay Regiment. Bitter hand to hand combat lasted till 1.00pm in the afternoon when the Japanese gained control of the hills and in the process annihilating the Malay Regiment.

As the loss of the strategic ridge gave way, the Japanese advanced along Ayer Rajah in pursuit of Indian troops towards the British Military Hospital. It was then that the tragic incident occurred at the BMH with the senseless slaughter of wounded patients and medical staff.

There was also little relief along Adam Road. The Japanese, with Col Shimada’s Tank Regiment, pressured the line with a bulge through Bukit Brown, towards Caldecott Hill and Adam Park. Bitter fighting occurred around Hill 95 and Water Tower Hill (today’s Adam Park/Arcadia).

The Imperial Guards Division harried the eastern battle line at Paya Lebar and were near to capturing the Woodleigh pump station by mid day.

At British HQ in the BattleBox at Fort Canning, Gen.Percival conferred with his field commanders.
Brigadier Simson advised that the water situation was extremely grave with the threat of epidemic.
Gen Heath, commander of British Forces, and Gen Bennett, commander of Australian Forces, urged Gen Percival to surrender. Percival refused to yield, having direct orders from Churchill via Gen.Wavell, the Commander in Chief based at Java, not to surrender and to fight to the last man.

However, Gen.Percival informed Gen.Wavell that the enemy was close to the City and that his troops were no longer in a position to counter attack much longer.
Gen. Wavell sought permission from PM Churchill to allow Gen.Percival to consider the option of surrendering.

Churchill replied to Gen. Wavell:

“You are, of course, sole judge of the moment when no further result can be gained at Singapore., and should instruct Percival accordingly, C.I.G.S. concurs”

With that, the final key was inserted into play for Singapore. (But the permission for Percival to consider surrendering did not go out to Percival until  the next morning of the 15th.)

*CIGS = Chief of Imperial General Staff

14 Feb Lieutenant-General A E Percival, General Officer Commanding Malaya at the time of the Japanese attack. Imperial War Museum London

Lieutenant-General A E Percival, General Officer Commanding Malaya at the time of the Japanese attack.(photo Imperial War Museum London)

14 Feb General Sir Archibald Wavell, C-in-C Far East, and Major General F K Simmons, GOC Singapore Fortress, inspecting soldiers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, Singapore, 3 November 1941.

General Sir Archibald Wavell, C-in-C Far East, and Major General F K Simmons, GOC Singapore Fortress, inspecting soldiers of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, Singapore, 3 November 1941. (photo Imperial War Museum London)

15th Feb 1942.
Chinese New Year – The Year of the Horse

There was absolutely no joy in celebrating Chinese New Year in 1942. The country was in shambles.
The foreboding fear of the encroaching Japanese military, preceeded by tales and rumours of their atrocities in China all portent the unknown that lay ahead.The British masters and their families had all bugged out. What did this mean for the locals now?

A Japanese flag could he seen flying from the top of the Cathay Building! Was this the end?
For the locals, especially for the Chinese, it was going to be the start of three and a half horrifying years.

Morning of 15th Feb saw the opposing forces holding most of their ground, with infiltration mainly by the Japanese within the eastern sector reaching Kallang Airfield. In the west, Japanese troops reached Mount Faber.

Gen. Percival convened his most senior officers at the Battlebox at 9.30am for the latest status reports.
Brigadier Simson reported that water supply could not be maintained for more than a day due to breakages everywhere which could not be repaired. Water was still flowing despite the pumps and reservoir being in enemy’s hands!
The only fuel left were what remained in each vehicle and at a small pump at the Polo Club.
Reserved military rations could last for only a few more days.

With unanimous concurrence of all present, the decision to cease hostilities and to capitulate was made.
A deputation comprising Brigadier Newbigging, HQ Chief Admin Officer, the Colonial Secretary Mr Fraser and Major CH Wild as interpreter, left Fort Canning for the enemy lines at Bukit Timah Road.

At the junction of Farrer Road, they proceeded on foot with Union Flag and a white flag across the defence line for 600 yards where they were met by the Japanese soldiers. They were later met by Col Sugita who refused their ‘invitation’ to the City for negotiations. Instead, Col Sugita demanded that Gen.Percival was to personally surrender to Gen.Yamashita.
To acknowledge this condition, the British were to fly a Japanese Flag from the top of the Cathay Building.

At 5.15pm, the British surrender party drove up to the Bukit Timah Ford Motors factory.
The delegation was made up of Lt-Gen AE Percival, Brigadier Newbigging, Brigadier Torrance, Gen Staff Officer Malaya Command, and Major Wild, the interpreter from III Corps.

Though Gen.Percival tried to negotiate for some terms for his men, Gen Yamashita thought that he was playing for time and pressed Percival for an unconditional surrender, telling him that a major attack on the City was scheduled for 10.30pm that night and any delay, he might not be able to call off the operation in time.
“The time for the night attack is drawing near! Is the British Army going to surrender or not?”
Banging the table he shouted in English “Answer YES or NO.”

At 6.10 pm. Gen.Percival signed the surrender document, handing Singapore over to the Japanese Empire.

15 February The Surrender (photo Imperial War Museum London)

15 February, 1942 Singapore Falls (photo Imperial War Museum London)

15 February The Surrender 1 (photo Imperial War Museum London)

15 February, 1942 The Surrender (photo Imperial War Museum London)

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Read about the Battle at Bukit Brown on 14 February, 1942, a day before the surrender to the Japanese,  here

And the latest on missing soldiers here

 

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 By Serene Tan

Not long after my dad passed away in 2011, the government announced plans for an 8 lane highway that would cut through Bukit Brown,  and graves in the way would have to be exhumed.

The news of the highway triggered a memory. The last time I visited my grandpa’s tomb was more than 40 years ago when I was a young girl.  I could vividly recall my grandpa’s tomb at Bukit Brown.  Concerned it might be affected, I realised it was time to visit him.

I arranged with my cousin to visit the grave for the  ’Qing Ming’ festival the next year, 2012.  It was a relief to learn that his grave was not staked for exhumation. But to my dismay, the tomb was in a dilapidated condition.  The tomb had been neglected for more than 15 years after my dad suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed and wheel chair bound.

Tomb before renovation _ photo Serene Tan

Grandpa’s tomb (photo Serene Tan)

It dawned on me then, that I now had the responsibility to carry on my father’s  duty to ‘sweep’ grandpa’s tomb  during the ‘Qing Ming’ festival.  His tombstone spoke to my roots.

Inscribed on the tombstone was my ancestral hometown , Kimen,  my grandfather’s death date, 1937,  and the names of his children. My father was the only son.  For the first time I came to know my father’s birth name 陈天吉, Tan Tien Kiat,  inscribed on the tomb.  My grandpa passed away when my dad was only five and dad changed to a simpler  name, 陈 亞 旺, Tan Ah Ong

I arranged with a contractor to renovate my grandpa’s tomb, and before work started, I decided it was also time to visit my ancestral home in Kinmen, Taiwan . Unconsciously, I think I was seeking the blessings of my father and grandfather.
My grandpa Tan Teow Meng (陈 朝 明 )left his home in Kinmen, more than 100 years ago. In Singapore,  I was told he worked as a lorry driver and died because of a bout of high fever.

My father had attempted to visit his ancestral home, thrice in the 80s.   Kinmen  is a small archipelago of islands and at that time was under a military administration because of fighting with China.  The only  means  of transport then was by military helicopter.  Visitors to the island were  restricted but because Dad could claim to be descended from his ancestors in  Kinmen, getting permission was not the problem.  Each time, it was  bad weather which prevented my father’s flight on the helicopter from  taking off  from mainland Taiwan.

He was so close and yet so far. I felt deeply the pain of his disappointment.  Dad subsequently passed away, without fulfilling his dream.

It was in  my ancestral village of Houshan  (后山), now known as Bishan, that  I learned my father had contributed funds to two temples.  His name was inscribed on the list of donors for both temples. This one is from the smaller village temple  陈氏宗祠

Village temple inscription

I placed my father’s photo as close  as I could to  the inscription of his name among  the temple’s donor list (photo Serene Tan)

My heart swelled with pride. There is an old Chinese saying “Drink Water, But Remember the Source”-   “饮水思源” .  My father, although he was not able to visit his ancestral home, never forgot his roots.

The family home and land in Kinmen, remains abandoned.  But at home in Singapore, my grandpa’s tomb has been rebuilt with  granite stone and fresh inscriptions in gold dust.  My grandpa had a humble life  his son – my father – worked hard and became a successful business man and never forgot his father.  I have always admired my father for his work ethic and persistence.

Tomb after reno_ Serene Tan

Grandpa’s new home (photo Serene Tan)

Inscriptions _Serene Tan

Who we are and from whence we came  ( photo by Serene Tan)

So as I marked Qing Ming at my grandpa’s new  “home” after my visit to Kinmen, I felt happy and blessed to have been able to accomplish my father’s dream of visiting our ancestral home.

tomb after Qing Ming_ Serene Tan

Qing Ming at Grandpa’s tomb, 2013 (photo Serene Tan)

***

My journey to my ancestral home in Kinmen in a photo essay.

Map showing Bishan

Map of Kinmen, showing Bishan at top right hand  (photo Serene Tan)

Ancestral home _Serene Tan

My ancestral home and land, abandoned.  Relatives I met told me, the home was occupied by troops during the conflict with China and they also dismantled the wooden structures to build their bunkers.  ( photo Serene Tan)

The village temple  陈氏宗祠

Small Temple external

The village temple nearby which my father donated funds to (photo Serene Tan)

The temple serves residents  nearby to offer prayers anytime as and when they deem necessary. (陈氏宗祠)

small temple interior

A view of the interior of the village temple (photo Serene Tan)

My father also donated to the larger Tan clan ancestral temple, 陈氏 家廟.  Unlike the village temple, it’s  opened only for certain festival celebrations  and entry restricted to only  male descendants. I was privileged  to be granted permission to enter, as an exception.

 Tan Temple 2

In the courtyard of the Tan temple, holding a photo of my father  (photo Serene Tan)
Tan Temple 3

Entrance to the Tan temple (photo Serene Tan)

Tan Temple 1

Offering my respects at the Tan temple (photo Serene Tan)

My father’s name 亜 旺 on the donors list.

Tan Temple 4 inscriptions

4th from left is my father’s name  on the list of donors from Singapore to the Tan temple (photo Serene Tan)

Meeting my relatives for the first time, I learned my great grandfather’s name is 陈 正.   So he is the earliest of my ancestors I have come to know.

Meeting relatives

Meeting relatives ( photo Serene Tan)

relatives

Meeting relatives (photo Serene Tan)

I will be marking my father’s third death anniversary at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge, 17-19 Kim Yam Road on 23 Feb 2014 at 10 am. Friends and relatives are welcome to join us in prayers.

3 death anniversary

 

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Chew Chai Pin

(b. 11 November 1911 – d. 13 June 1941)

Among the 4,000 graves which will have to be exhumed to make way for the highway is that of Chew Chai Pin (# 1253)

Chew grave documentation project

The Grave of Chew Chai Pin  ( photo credit : The Bukit Brown Documentation Project)

Chew Chai Pin was one of three founders  of the Chinese High School in Batu Pahat.  Unlike the other prominent Chinese men who contributed to the school, Chew was not well known then in the community.    He held the concurrent  position of director and teacher of  the Ayer Hitam School. But he was soon to answer a higher calling.

On March 6, 1940,  Chew went to China from Singapore to Yangon and China, to  visit and give moral support to the Nanyang  volunteer mechanics and drivers, as well as civilians and troops.  The Nanyang  Volunteers were  recruited and trained  from  South East Asia,  to transport war and logistic supplies through the notorious China-Burma highway to sustain  China’s war effort against the invading Japanese. Chew represented Batu Pahat as  part of a deputation comprising of representatives from the overseas Chinese communities of South East Asia.
But on March 29 1940, the vehicle he was in overturned and he sustained serious injury to his spinal cord.  He was warded at a hospital at Xiaguan (Yunnan)  while the rest of the deputation proceeded to their destinations.  He was visited by none other than Tan Kah Kee,  who was instrumental in  galvanizing  the support of  the overseas Chinese in Nanyang (South East Asia)  for the second Sino-Japanese War.  Tan made arrangements to have Chew sent to Yangon for treatment as the doctors in Xiaguan were unable to heal him. Chew’s legs were numb and he could not walk for more than a year.  Chew also received a letter of consolation  from the  Commander-in-Chief of the war and leader of the Kuomintang , Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek.

On March  4th of 1941, a year after his accident,  an arrangement was made for him be transported to Singapore for treatment. Just when many thought Chew would recover, he died in Singapore on June 13, 1941  at 0615 hours. It was said that his funeral in Singapore  was attended by more than 400 people. He was hailed in both Singapore and Malaysia as a patriot who sacrificed his life for  China.

citation for Chew

An obituary in the  Nanyang Siang Pau to the memory of Mr Chew Chai Pin proclaims:  “He Died for his Country”

On his deathbed, he urged his compatriots to spare no effort for China’s salvation. He said:

“I am ashamed to have done nothing in service of my country. How can I die without doing anything for the motherland? I must do something for the nation when I come back in another life.” Chew Chai Pin.

Chew  was just 30 years old when he died.

Tan Kah Kee wrote in his memoirs that when the deputation left Singapore by ship on the 6th of March, it was sent off by a crowd in high spirits. Only Chew’s mother and wife were weeping. Somebody observed to Tan,  that the deputation would be away for only 3 months and it was an honour to be a delegate, so even though one could excuse Chew’s mother as she was of an older generation, his wife who was educated and a teacher was showing too much emotion. After seeing Chew in hospital six months after his accident, when he could not be cured by the doctors there, Tan Kah Kee remarked that it seemed the mother and wife had been prescient of what was to come at the point of parting.

Chew  was born on 11/11/11 in the Hokkien Province, Tong An County, Au To village. He married in November 1937,  and was childless at the time of his death.  After he  passed  away,  his parents adopted a son on his behalf.

Article

An article from Sin Chew Jit Poh 19 Dec 2012 on Chew Chai Pin

 

Chinese High School (photo Raymond Goh)

The Chinese High School in Batu Pahat co founded by Chew Chai Pin (photo Raymond Goh)

postscript : Chew Chai Pin’s grave has been claimed.

***

Source: From  the blog  of 沈志堅’who is a teacher at Chinese High School in Batu Pahat. (Translated by Fabian Tee)

Additional information from the Memoirs of Tan Kah Kee

 

 

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On  2nd  January, 2014, June Tan   witnessed and photo documented the exhumation of her grandfather, Ong Kim Soon. She also shared with us the testimonial of how a promise was fulfilled to carry on the lineage of another family. It speaks to men and women  of honour and ties of kinship which live on till today.

Ong Kim Soon 1  (photo June Tan)

The exhumation of Ong Kim Soon begins, after the family conducted their  pre- exhumation rituals (photo June Tan)

***

By June Tan

My grandfather was an ordinary man. He worked hard to make ends meet and was an honest man of principles.  When he passed away at the age of 47 , he left behind his wife & 6  children aged between 6-22 years old then.

The story I want to share of my grandfather has to start from my great great grandparents.

My great great grandfather Ng died at a very young age. He was in his 20s then. He left behind his wife but no descendants. The women of that era usually did not remarry if their husband passed on. It was deemed to be their duties to take care of their in- laws .

However, my great great grandmother was a young lady in the prime of her life at that time. Her mother- in- law decided that she should not stay as a widow and allowed her to remarry.   She, however,  set a condition for the man (suramed Ong) who was to marry her- that  the first son born by them had to take  the surname “Ng”  (黄). As a gratitude to the old lady, they readily  agreed.

Soon after, my great grandfather was born and he took  the Ng surname. However, great great grandfather Ong soon fell very ill and with his wife they were unable  to produce a 2nd child.  Their son, my great grandfather had  no option but to reinstate his surname to Ong in order to perpetuate the Ong family line.

The older generation is a generation of principles.  It was resolved that the next male child born in the family will carry the surname of Ng to honour the promise of my great great grandparents.

Years later, my grandfather was born and he adopted the “Ng” (黄) surname. In fact, of the 3 sons born in that generation, my grandfather and his 2nd  brother took on the Ng surname as a gratitude to the Ng family.

At age 47,  my grandfather passed away. All that he left behind was a meagre sum of S$24.  The family was faced with the task of paying for a decent  burial place.

Seh Ong Sua (which adjoins Bukit Brown)  was the only cemetery with free burial grounds available for the Ong descendents . My grandfather’s brothers, my grand uncles,  approached the person in charge of the Ong Clan then. However, only descendants of the Ong clan could be buried there. After hearing the origins of my grandfather’s surname, the Ong clan agreed to accord him a burial ground in Seh Ong  on condition that that he had to use his Ong surname on the headstone of his grave.

Hence,  the surname  on his tomb is Ong (王) whereas his children will continue to take the Ng surname.

For these reasons, my great grandmother had “set” a rule for my mum’s generation that they are allowed to marry Ngs’ but not Ongs’ as that is the origin of their bloodline.

***

A few photos from June Tan’s album of  her grandfather’s exhumation.  The coffin was fully intact and the set of bones, nearly complete. With her permission, the  complete album which she has captioned as a photo essay,  is available here 

Ong Kim Soon 2 (photo June Tan)

Setting up the canopy, getting ready to remove the remains from the coffin (photo June Tan)

Ong Kim Soon 6   (photo June Tan)

The remains after the coffin (which was fully intact) was opened with an electric saw (photo June Tan)

Ong Kim Soon 5   (photo June Tan)

The bones are washed with white wine as required by traditional exhumation practices. (photo June Tan)

***

Ong Kim Soon has moved to  Yishun Columbarium. Rest in Peace.

Editor’s note: We would like to thank  June Tan for  sharing her photos of her grandfather’s exhumation and her family story with us. If you are a descendant who has ancestors staked for exhumation,   please share your story with us.

Email us: a.t.bukitbrown@gmail.com

You can read about another  first hand account by a grandson, who witnessed his grandfather’s and aunt’s exhumations, here

 

 

 

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A personal account by Aylwin Tan who witnessed the exhumation of his grandfather and aunt at Bukit Brown on the morning of Wednesday, 8th January,2014.

***

I received a phone call from the exhumation office about 1.5 hours after I had registered. Picked my Dad up and went directly to the gravesite.

The green tentage is that of my aunt Tan Siok Hwa (aged 10) and the grey is my grandpa, Tan Cheng Moh. Both were killed during a Japanese raid; a bomber scored a direct hit on the bomb shelter where my grandpa had put his entire family, including his close relatives. Apparently, grandpa’s thinking was that they should all stick together and if they all died, so be it.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 8

Exhumation at grave of aunt (photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 6

Exhumation at grave of grandfather (photo Aylwin Tan)

Their funerals were carried out in haste. A number of traditions were abandoned for fear of being caught out in the open by the Japanese bombers e.g. mourners alighting to perform rites at every bridge along the way to the burial ground.

Mr Lee (the gentleman in yellow boots seen in the first photo) told me that the coffins and remains had disintegrated and had merged with the soil. Not surprising, given that they had passed about 70 years ago. The gravediggers gathered some earth and put it in plastic bags for the purposes of cremation.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 7

(photo Aylwin Tan)

I was curious to know how the gravediggers knew that they had dug deep enough to reach the remains. Mr Lee explained that the gravediggers would know once they reached a flat surface as this was the bottom of the coffin.

The gravediggers were also able to tell that my aunt died when she was a child. If you look at my aunt’s grave, you can see a ‘step’ indicating that the coffin was shorter than an adult’s.

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The grave of 10 year old aunt with a “step” ( photo Aylwin Tan)

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Measuring the depth of aunt’s grave   (photo Aylwin Tan)

(photo Aylwin Tan)

The grave of grandfather dug until a flat even  surface was reached, where the coffin had been laid   (photo Aylwin Tan)

I was worried that Dad would not be able to negotiate the uneven terrain to the grave sites but the path worn out by the gravediggers proved manageable. Mr Lee told me that these gravediggers are the last of their kind in Singapore.

Dad spent some time telling his story to the gravediggers while I sorted out with Mr Lee the items found in the graves. Dad’s chair was provided by Swee Hong, the company that won the exhumation tender, a testimony to their planning and attention to detail. Also, you can see how they used the umbrellas to shield the boxes from the sun.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 13

Umbrellas shading the remains from the sun as required by traditional practices. Aylwin’s father (seated) chatting with the grave diggers (photo Aylwin Tan)

The gravediggers recovered a chain and part of a bowl from my aunt’s grave. The bowl was probably used in the funeral rites. Mr Lee asked if I would donate them for research. I shall have to ask my elders’ permission first.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 0

Items recovered from graves (photo Aylwin Tan).

My grandpa’s grave yielded a bullet and a piece of metal which looked like a cone with the top portion cut off. I had to surrender the bullet as it was not a spent round. The gravediggers surmised that the metal piece came from the bomb but I wonder where the bullet came from. Dad said that the metal piece was not the cause of grandpa’s death; a beam had fallen on grandpa’s head and cracked it open. Death was instantaneous. The sight must have been extremely traumatic for the family. Dad was only 11 or 12 then.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 5

A bullet recovered from grandfather’s grave (photo Aylwin Tan)

One unexpected development came about when Dad suddenly said that my great grandfather was also buried somewhere in Bukit Brown. Dad did not know his name or the location of the grave site. Apparently, only one of grandpa’s brothers had this information and he had since passed. According to Mr Lee, great grandpa’s remains will be exhumed and disposed of if unclaimed after a period. Mr Lee also said that there was still hope if someone in my family could remember great grandpa’s name as the tombstone would surely state grandpa’s name. I’ll try my best to ask my relatives but am not very hopeful.

I will miss the 2 “Yodas” guarding grandpa’s grave. The other 2 guards look kind of effeminate.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg 10

(photo Aylwin Tan)

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(photo Aylwin Tan)

The left panel of the tombstone lists grandpa’s sons and daughters. Dad is ‘Geok San‘, which means ‘jade mountain’ in Chinese. In accordance with Chinese tradition, the sons and male cousins in the same generation have the same identifying name. In my Dad’s generation, the name is ‘Geok‘. In mine, it is ‘Wee’, which means ‘great‘ in Chinese. I understand that these names are predetermined by the Chinese Almanac.

(photo Aylwin Tan).jpg inscription

Inscriptions of the names of 3 sons and 3 daughters (photo Aylwin Tan)

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The start of exhumations this morning 8 January 2014 (photo Aylwin Tan)

The exhumation ended on a quiet note. After I had given written confirmation of the items from the graves that I had retained, I was given printed photographs of the two grave sites and that was it.

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The end of exhumation (photo Aylwin Tan)

I was very impressed with the professionalism of the Swee Hong staff. They were attentive to my requests and sensitive to religious aspects of the exhumation. They worked fast but were in no hurry, allowing claimants all the time they needed to carry out their religious observances. Thanks to them, the exhumation process went smoothly.

- Aylwin Tan-

Additional Information : Both grandfather and aunt  died on 18 Jan 1942.

Grave of  Tan Cheng Moh 陳青茂 #769 (photo credit The Bukit Brown Cemetery  Documentation Project )

0769  Tan grandpa Documentation site 0769-2 Tan grandpa documentation site

Grave of Tan Siok Hwa  陳淑華 #763  (photo credit  The Bukit Brown Cemetery  Documentation Project)

0763 Tan aunt documentation site 0763-2 Tan aunt documentation site

Editor’s note: We would like to thank Aylwin Tan for giving us permission to reproduce his personal account on the blog. If you are a descendant who has ancestors staked for exhumation,   please share your story with us.

Email us: a.t.bukitbrown@gmail.com

 

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by Sugen Ramiah

While exploring Hill 4, I stumbled upon a tomb of a young man,  by the name of Ee Tean Choon.(E Tean Choon on tombstone)

Ee 2 (Sugen Ramiah)

A dapper and genteel looking Ee Tean Choon (photo Sugen Ramiah)

It was very unique because the tomb was of a modern design in marble.  And so I started a little research on his family in early November 2013.  It was on the 31st of December 2013, while strolling with brownies Peter and Ee Hoon, that I was told that there was another art deco tomb, similar to that of Ee Tean Choon that also belonged to the Ee family, his grandparents. Here’s what I have traced of the Ee Tean Choon  family tree.

Grandparents:  Ee Swee Hin and Khoo Swee Yee

Ee Swee Hin passed away on the 8th September 1942 and his wife  Khoo Swee Yee,  on the 19th February 1955. They are buried together in Hill 5 Division B with LTA tag #1122 and will be exhumed in March.

Ee grandparents (Sugen Ramiah)

Father: Ee Yean Keat

Ee Yean Keat was the eldest son of Ee Swee Hin and  Khoo Swee Yee. He had two other siblings, Ee Yean Bee and another adopted brother – Tan Eng Yam. Born in Malacca in the year 1884, he was educated in a high school there and came to Singapore to look for a better future. He married Seow Joo Neo and had seven children. He first started work with Netherlands Trading Society in 1904. After 6 years, in 1910, he worked as a cashier with the KPM shipping company. He wanted an early retirement after 25 years with the shipping company. However, he later joined the Straits Times Press (Malaya) Ltd and officially retired in 1959 at the age of 75. He was also known as the “Grand Old Man’ of the accounts section of Straits Times Press (Malaya). He passed away on the 24th of September 1968 at the age of 84. The Obituary section in the archives indicates that he left behind 2 wives.   Seow Joo Neo  the mother of Ee Tean Choon,  passed away on the 4th of January 1985 at the age of 102. She left behind 19 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. No information has been uncovered about Ee Yean Keat’s other wife.

Ee Tean Choon (E Tean Choon on tombstone)

Ee Tean Choon  born in the year 1910 and was the first born of  Ee Yean Keat and  Seow Joo Neo of No.350 East Coast Road. He was the eldest of seven children. He married  Ruby Chia Boey Neo , the fifth daughter of Mr & Mrs Chia Keng Chin of No.8 Saint Thomas Walk, on the 3rd of October 1936. Chia Boey Neo the grand-daughter of Mr Chia Hood Theam, was born in July 1914 and was 22 years old when she married Ee. They didn’t have their own children but adopted two babies -Willie Ee Kean Leong and Margaret Ee.

Sadly,  Ee Tean Choon died of typhoid, on the 3rd of April 1938, at just  28 years old. He left behind a young widow and two infants, barely two years after his marriage. The two infants were then adopted by his brother, Ee Tean Cheng   and the young widow returned to her  parents’ house.

Inscribed on the tomb is an epitaph :

‘In the prime of his life death claimed him, In the pride of his manhood days, none knew him but to love him, None mention his name but with praise.’

Ee 3 (Sugen Ramiah)

I believe that the epitaph was taken from  ‘The life of Rev. William James Hall, M. D.:  Medical Missionary on the slums of New York, Pioneer Missionary to Pyong Yang, Korea’ 1897.  It is about how Rev Hall ministered  to the sick and wounded of Korea and his martyrdom.  Coincidentally, both William (Willie for short) Willie  and Margaret, were the names of Dr. Hall’s great grandparents.

Ee Tean Choon is buried in Hill 4 Division C with LTA tag #2612. He has been claimed by the family of his wife, the late Mdm Chia Boey Neo.

Brother : Ee Tean Cheng

Ee Tean Cheng was actively involved in many athletic associations such as the Useful Lads Badminton Party, Horlicks Badminton Party and was elected as vice president of the S.A.S.U (Singapore Armature Sports Union) in 1940. The tournaments, training and meetings were often held in the badminton court of the Ee’s residence at East Coast Road. He worked for Ford Motors and  married to Ong Lian Neo Nellie  on the 15th December 1940. Unfortunately, she passed away on the 26th October 1941 while in labour, both mother and child didn’t survive. She was buried in Bukit Brown and Raymond Goh has a blog post on her life  here

Ee Tean Cheng had a second marriage to  Lily Oon Siok Neo. They had a son, Winston Ee Kean Leng and also adopted the late Ee Tean Choon’s children – Willie and Margaret. He had five grandchildren. He passed away on  3rd April 1999, coincidentally  the anniversary of his brother, Ee Tean Choon ( 3rd April 1938)

Brother:  Ee Tean Chye

Colonel Ee Tean Chye was the  first Commander of the Singapore Air Defence Command and in 1972,  the first Chief of Air Force of the Republic of Singapore Air Force.   He has three children, Patricia Ee, Laura Ee and Christopher Ee.

Son: Willie Ee Kean Leong

Willie Ee Kean Leong was the director of Sankyo Seiki Singapore Pte Ltd. He married  Lim Eng Hong, eldest daughter of Mr Lim Kim San, former cabinet minister and first chairman of HDB. They had two children, Ee Kuo Ren and Ee Yuen Ling.

Daughter: Margaret Ee

Margaret Ee married Mr Richard Png and had two children, Dr Kenneth Png and Keith Png.

Postscript : Unfortunately both grandparents and grandson will be moving house to make way for the new highway. However both grandparents and grandson will be interned in the same block in Choa Chu Kang Columbarium. This is just another story of another ordinary family that has contributed to this country. May they rest in Peace.

Ee 4 (Sugen Ramiah)

Offerings for Ee Tean Choon on the day of the Winter Solstice 21 December 2013, prepared by brownies Choo Ai Loon and Sugen Ramiah (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Sugen Ramiah is a teacher by training and his interest includes   observing and documenting Chinese festivals and rituals conducted by temples. This is his first foray into researching family trees.

Read his blog posts on Salvation for Lost Souls here and  here

References for Ee Family

The life of Rev. William James Hall, M. D. : medical missionary to the slums of New York, pioneer missionary to Pyong Yang, 1897. (E-book) Emmanuel College Library, Victoria University

Announcement. (1936, June 23). The Straits Times

Tean Cheng-Ong. (1940, December 16). The Singapore Free Press and the Mercantile Advertiser

Deaths. (1941, October 26). The Straits Times

Cashier, 75, Retires for Second Time. (1959, December 31). The Singapore Free Press

Deaths. (1968, September 25). The Straits Times

Deaths. (1985, January 5). The Straits Times

Condolences. (1994, September 4). The Straits Times

Deaths. (1999, April 4). The Straits Times

Deaths. (2000, June 20). The Straits Times

The Air Force, Singapore : Republic of Singapore Air Force, 1988

Controlled Growth Restriction Policies For Certain Closed Food-Chain Systems by Patricia G. M. Ee 1992. Simon Fraser University, April 1992.

 

 

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The Battle along the Kheam Hock Road

by Jon Cooper

Battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper uncovers important clues in the battle along Bukit Timah that ended in Bukit Brown in February 1942. Having written about the fallen British soldiers in an earlier post, he has since discovered more. Read on….

Recent communications I had with  Louise Cordingly on the memoirs and works of Reverend Eric Cordingly has brought to light the location of more men who are listed as missing at Bukit Brown and whose last known location may lie in the line of the new road.

Reverend Cordingly was one of the regimental clergy who were tasked with leading burial parties across the battlefield in the days immediately after the surrender of the island. The process of burial included the completion of form W3314 Burial Returns. This in turn was used to annotate the entries in the battalion rolls kept by the Bureau of Record and Enquiries in Changi. Fortunately Cordingly kept hold of his Burial returns book and I have been given a copy of this document.

Cordingly’s record of the battle

On the 14 February 1942, the Japanese launched an assault on the 4th Suffolk positions across Bukit Brown. Infantry of the 11th regiment 3rd Battalion dashed across the Adam Road and Lornie Road supported by tanks. The Suffolk companies were slowly driven back from their positions along the reservoir shoreline and took up ‘strong defensive positions’ (Suffolks War Diary) along the western edge of the cemetery with some elements of C Company still sitting it out on Hill 95 west of Adam Road.

This pullback meant that a new line of positions had to be prepared in quick time amongst the headstones. The Suffolk’s carriers, some of their mortar platoon and elements of the reinforcement company congregated in the small kampong south of Hill 130 on the Kheam Hock Road. They were met there by a sole Indian Pattern Vickers tank and two universal carriers of the late Major Jack Alford’s[1] 100th Light Tank Squadron.

Fig 1 –The Vickers Light tank Mark II a (India Pattern)

Fig 1 –The Vickers Light tank Mark II a (India Pattern)

The enemy infantry attack along the Sime Road seemed to be the catalyst from a hail of bullets from snipers and machine gunners who had apparently infiltrated the lines and set themselves up on the slopes of Hill 60 (823146). As the fusillade increased to their front the Suffolks, at least those with time to look behind them, saw their chow wagons approaching up the road.

The Suffolk carriers and tanks of the 100th Light Tank Squadron were just in the process of dishing out their meals from their B Echelon rations run when the first Chi Ha tanks rolled into view along the Kheam Hock Road[2]. According to the Suffolk Regimental diary, all hell then broke lose as men scrambled to their positions, tossing mess tins and cups away in their haste. There followed a vicious close quarters struggle as the Suffolks engaged the tanks with anti-tank rifles, grenades and machine guns. Amongst the casualties were Lt D A Wise and 2nd Lt PHT Bennett who were wounded. Lt Harry Archer[3] went missing and Sgt John Colborn[4] was killed. Capt Wyscock-Crundall and C/Sgt Bowell were last seen with a group of others being carted off into captivity roped together. Cpl Goldsmith pulled together the surviving members of the garrison and led them on a fighting retreat through Japanese lines back to the safety of allied positions along the Bukit Timah road leaving the burnt out wrecks of the armoured vehicles smouldering in the darkness.

Cordingly visited the scene after the surrender and recalled in his diary the carnage he found at the kampong.

‘The following morning I set out again, this time going several miles into enemy lines and up the Kheam Hock Road, where I heard there had been an ambush. Here we came upon the most awful carnage I have yet seen. On a bend in the road were two burnt out Bren Carriers with four or five bodies sprawled across the road – bodies quite naked. Leaning from the carriers were more – parts of men – burnt stumps of men – and this after two days of tropical sun – the stench of this will be with me always. Along the ditches were others – fifty or more – an officer spread –eagled in the middle of the road – quite unrecognisable. I went from body to body trying to remove Identity Discs and personal effects. It was impossible to tell whether they were English, Jap or Indian – swollen, sizzling, bursting corpses. We buried each one – some who could not be moved we covered with earth others we buried in a large bomb crater.’

Cordingly goes on to note that the Japanese escorting the burial party behaved with kindness and respect.  However he adds that there was one incident that marred their copy book:

In the morning a Nippon soldier took me through a native village past some Jap tanks (which I suppose were responsible for the chaos and death on the road) into a garden. There he pointed at a mat, which I raised and saw five Indian soldiers dead, shot through the chest and head but with their hands tied together. When I came back later in the day to bury them, they had been buried by the Japanese, perhaps there was some reason for this.

Fig 2 – Cordingly’s Burial Return for the executed Indian Soldiers. The Remarks read ‘5 Indians buried by Japanese in village behind houses (N side). The Indians had been shot with hands tied behind their backs’.

Fig 2 – Cordingly’s Burial Return for the executed Indian Soldiers. The Remarks read ‘5 Indians buried by Japanese in village behind houses (N side). The Indians had been shot with hands tied behind their backs’.

 

Fig 2 – The six figure grid reference for the burial site of the executed Indians (815143) places the grave at the southern foot of Hill 130 within the village.

Fig 2 – The six figure grid reference for the burial site of the executed Indians (815143) places the grave at the southern foot of Hill 130 within the village.

Cordingly diligently completed the Burial Record for all the men he found along the Kheam Hock Road that day  and notably  he reports on the burial of other Indian troops of the Deccan Horse (9th Horse) who were most likely attached to the 100th Lt Tank Regiment.

Table 1 – Details of Indian troops found and buried by Cordingly

Rank

Surname Forename Number Regt Grid ref Kranji Ref
Jat Ram Sobha A/9336 Royal Deccan Horse 815141 Column 146 Singapore Memorial
Jat Singh Tej 7938 Royal Deccan Horse 815141 Column 146 Singapore Memorial
SR Singh Badan 9544 Royal Deccan Horse 815141 Column 145 Singapore Memorial

When the details are cross referred to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, it is clear that like many of the Suffolks lost in the area, these men have no known grave at Kranji and therefore it is possible they were not recovered from their resting place along the Kheam Hock Road.

The fact that the men were from the Royal Deccan Horse as they would appear to be casualties from the only tank on tank engagement in the capture of Singapore.

Fig 3 (a – c) The entries in Cordingly’s Burial Return noting the identity and location of Indian troops buried along the Kheam Hock Road.

Burial record for Sobha Ram

Figure 3a Burial record for Sobha Ram

Fig 3b Burial record for Tej Singh

Fig 3b Burial record for Tej Singh

Fig 3c Burial record for Badan Singh

Fig 3c Burial record for Badan Singh

Lt Harry Archer of the 4th Suffolks was also reported missing during that engagement. The entry in the Suffolk roll states that he was last seen between Thomson Village and the Chinese Cemetery South to the MacRitchie reservoir. But the reference in the regimental diary suggests he was lost at sometime during the battle along Kheam  Hock and maybe found in the area. He may of course be the ‘unrecognisable officer’ noted in Cordingly’s description.

Fig 4a

Fig 4a Suffolk soldiers rolls

Fig 4b

Fig 4b

Fig 4 a – b – The Suffolk Rolls (top) showing Archer’s entry. Also note Brown’s entry stating Cordingly carried out the burial. The location details are almost identical to the details in Cordingly’s Burial Return (below) showing how the roll was updated directly from the form.

Conclusion

It was noted in the initial report that we only had details for missing Suffolk men and that most likely there are many more of other units who could have gone missing on Bukit Brown. This addendum to the report is a great case in point. Here we have independent reports which tie in nicely with the existing documents and shed light on more missing soldiers.

The fact that they were Indian troops reminds us of the global heritage that is encompassed in this battlefield site.

Also the suggestion that men were rounded up bound together and then shot is a vivid reminder that the Kheam Hock road was a scene of one of the horrific atrocities that were taking place across the island at the time.

I hope this note inspires further research into the battle along the Kheam Hock and the details of the action can be fully established. I also would implore that the road contractors are made aware of the WW2 history of this area and make every effort to recover the bodies of these men should their final resting place be in the line of the new development.

Jon Cooper at Bukit Brown (photo: Claire Leow)

Jon Cooper at Bukit Brown (photo: Claire Leow)

 

Jon Cooper is an expat amateur archaeologist and a graduate from the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University. He has spent the last three years working as the project manager alongside his partners in the Singapore Heritage Society and the National University of Singapore, for The Adam Park Project; a study into the archaeological record of the battle for the estate and the subsequent POW camp that was established there in 1942. The project’s findings have recently gone on show at the National Library in an exhibition entitled ‘Four Days in February’. He works on The Adam Park Project.

 

Jon Cooper’s original post: Missing Amongst the Dead

Footnotes:

[1] Major Jack Alford had been killed on the 12th February. He was the son of  John and Helen Alford of Bodmin in Cornwall and husband of Dorothy Alford

[2] Notably B Echelon’s C/Sgt Marler and the officer’s mess sergeant, Sgt Francis John Squires were both killed in the ensuing action.

[3] Lt Harry Archer was never found. He was the son of Edward William and Dorothy Archer, of 50 Church Crescent  Finchley, Middlesex. His name appears on the Singapore War Memorial Column 53.

 

[4] Sgt John Rice Colburn was found after the fighting by a burial party led by Rev E Cordingley. He was laid to rest in a shell hole on the 16th April 1942 alongside 8 other Suffolk casualties. After the war the men were found and reburied at Kranji. John now lies alongside his comrades in Coll Grave 12. B-5-13. His next of kin is listed as Mrs J R Colborn The New Road Fritton Gt Yarmouth Norfolk .

Buried with him were Pte Ronald John Trace, Pte Charles Frederick Thompson, Pte Ernest Charles Templey, L/Sgt Francis John Squires,  Pte Frank Sinkins, Pte William Arthur Lucas, Pte Edward Hoy, Pte Reginald Girling

 

 

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Pre- exhumation rituals for the nearly 4,000 pioneers who will have to be exhumed to make way for the highway, took place on the morning of Thursday, 28th November.  A short and simple ceremony, it was organised by the Land Transport Authority and  Swee Hong construction company  for descendants. More than 500 descendants together with well wishers and brownies were in attendance.

The rituals were conducted by 7 members of the Inter Religious Organisation.

Prayers were offered for the peaceful move of the soon to be exhumed pioneers to their new homes and for the safety of the people who will be working on the site.

The descendants who arrived were confronted by a new almost “fortress-like” Bukit Brown where barriers had been put up in preparation for exhumations, scheduled to begin in December 2013

Descendants arriving to participate in the prayers for the deceased. (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Descendants arriving to participate in the prayers for the deceased. (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The area for the ritual prayers was under a marquee enclosed by a metal barrier and restricted to descendants. Registration was required.

Registration (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Registration (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The area within was quickly filled to capacity

Pre exhumation rituals  3 ( Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Jennifer Teo )

It quickly became standing room only

Pre exhumation rituals  2 ( Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Jennifer Teo )

Pre exhumation rituals  1 ( photo Mil Phuah)

Pre exhumation rituals ( photo Mil Phuah)

The scheduled time to begin the prayers was 10am. It was delayed because of the unexpected crowds and started about 15 minutes later.

Religious leaders  from left to right  represented: Jainism , Buddhism , Taoism , Hinduism , Christianity, Sikhism and Baha’i faith (photo below)

Pre Exhumation Rituals (photo Walter Lim)

The prayers begin (photo Walter Lim)

The religious leaders took their turns to pray starting with Jain leader in pink, followed by Buddhist leader. (photo below)

Religious Leaders  Buddhist (photo Jennifer Teo)

Buddhist religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

The Taoist leader (in black robes) was followed by the Hindu religious leader

Religious Leaders  Hindu (photo Jennifer Teo)

Hindu religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Sikh (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious leader of the Sikhs (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Christian (photo Jennifer Teo)

Christian religious leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

Religious Leaders  Baha'i (photo Jennifer Teo)

Baha’i faith leader (photo Jennifer Teo)

The prayers took about 10 minutes and the ceremony was over. A few descendants took the opportunity to also pay their last respects personally to their ancestors and came bearing offerings.

Families conducting their personal pre Exhumation Rituals  2 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Pre  Exhumation Rituals  (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Families conducting their personal pre Exhumation Rituals 1  (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Families conducting their personal Pre Exhumation Rituals (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Family with 3 affected tombs (Khoo Ee Hoon)

Family with 3 affected tombs (Khoo Ee Hoon)

Pre exhumation rituals  3 ( Walter Lim )

A lone offering, but all it takes is just one person to remember (photo Walter Lim)

Victor Lim, a brownie offered his own prayers of remembrance and respect  to the earth deity at the Lorong Halwa gates. Bukit Brown to him is a place to remember his ancestors and affectionately as he is always wont to say “my playground”

Victor Lim : “I don’t know when we can meet again. Since the past 1 1/2 years, we have been meeting with those lonely souls every week. This morning we are departing from this endless,  from a party that needs to be dispersed. Alas, we would still need to leave and this brings me good memory. I wish you all the best, bless you peace when you leave, and may this good luck come forth to your new home. We will think of you now and then, and we will be together , not forgetting the milestones of our social memories and roots.”

Brownie Victor Lim at Pre exhumation ritual (photo Raymond Goh)

Brownie Victor Lim at Pre exhumation ritual (photo Raymond Goh)

And finally, all the way from London, Sugen Ramiah remembers Bukit Brown in his prayers at the Westminster Cathedral. His message : While Rev Fr Paul Staes said a prayer for the dead in Bukit Brown, I too lit up a candle and said a prayer for the dead in the Chapel of Holy Souls.

Eternal rest
grant unto them O Lord,
may perpetual light
shine upon them;
May they rest in peace. Amen

From Westminister Cathedral candles burning for Bukit Brown (Sugen Ramiah)

From Westminister Cathedral candles burning for Bukit Brown (photo Sugen Ramiah)

Amen, indeed amen. A ceremony that seem all to short,  commemorates a farewell to those for whom Bukit Brown has been home for decades. We wish you all a safe and peaceful passage to your new homes.

Read Walter Lim’s blog on the rituals in Chinese here

A postscript. Thursday, 28 November 2013, was also the day the Roundabout became a Road.

28 November (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 28 November : The Roundabout becomes a Road (photo Raymond Goh)

Follow the path of destruction here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dateline Sunday 10 November, Kranji War Memorial.

Remembrance Day was commemorated at the Kranji War Memorial in a ceremony dedicated to those who died fighting for Singapore during World War II. Brownies Khoo Ee Hoon and Mok Ly Yng who attended the memorial service had another mission when they were there,  to seek out the names of 5 soldiers who had been listed as missing in the  Battle at Cemetery Hill (Seh Ong and Bukit Brown Cemeteries).

Based on war records,  Ly Yng had already mapped out  the dead and missing soldiers from the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, whose last known positions are right in the middle of the proposed 8-lane highway cutting across Seh Ong and Bukit Brown Cemeteries.

Map of last known positions of the Suffolk soldiers ( map Mok Ly Yng)

Last known positions of the Suffolk soldiers ( map Mok Ly Yng)

The 5 soldiers, named  are not the only ones fallen in the battle.

“4x in yellow to the left of  the green box represents 4 individuals known to be buried at that position. At the top of the bo along Lornie Road are know to be  5 soldiers (5x), as with the 1x (in green) at the Lornie Road houses. As these soldiers were located outside of the immediate threatened area, I did not include their names, so as to reduce map clutter.But I decided to keep them in the map to provide some context and indicate that there are in fact more soldiers around the area within the Greater BB area.” Mok Ly Yng.

At the Kranji War Memorial, the soldiers’ names on the memorial wall :

Corporal Davis Angus Adcock
Singapore Memorial Column 53, Kranji War Memorial
Missing: 12 Feb 1942

Adcock  (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Adcock (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Lance Corporal Cecil George Meadows
Singapore Memorial Column 53, Kranji War Memorial
Killed: 14 Feb 1942
———-
Private Harry Thomas Cattermole
Singapore Memorial Column 54, Kranji War Memorial
Missing: 14 Feb 1942
Missing. Last seen on Hill 95, badly wounded on 14 Feb 1942.

Meadows and Peacock (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Meadows and Cattermole  (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng clarification of  Cattermole’s position: Due to the large map coordinate error, Cattermole could be buried within 50 m of the map coordinate’s position. in other words, he could be very, very to Oon Chim Neo’s grave too. In fact the uncertainty area overlaps her grave. “

Cattermole's position  in relation to Oon Chim Neo (Mok Ly Yng)

Cattermole’s position in relation to Oon Chim Neo (Mok Ly Yng)

Private Ivan Jonathan Warne
Singapore Memorial Column 56, Kranji War Memorial
Killed: 14 Feb 1942
Buried top of Highest hill Chinese Cemetery East of Adam Road in Adam Road – Lornie Road Area by padre Polain 2/26 Bn AIF 14.2.42 (crossed out May 1942) Effects 2 Identity Discs, 1 cross.

Private Ivan Jonathan Warne’s position is not affected by the road construction. He is listed as the only known unrecovered casualty to be buried in Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery proper (Hill 1).

Warne (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Warne (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng on the case of  Private P Sawyer in the map:

“The 5 named individuals on the map were known to have been killed or last seen at those map coordinates just before or after the surrender. But after the war, those who were recorded as’ buried’ could *not* be found again and their remains are still missing. Private P Sawyer is the most difficult to find. His records showed that he had ‘Died in Singapore’ on 14 Feb 1942 and that he was buried on 17 Feb 1942 but this burial record was crossed out at a later unknown date. This leaves him with no records and hence he does not appear on the Singapore Memorial at Kranji nor the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) database or nominal roll, unlike the other 4 named soldiers presented here.”

In battle, the Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment fought in adjacent sectors.  The Cambridgeshire Regiment held the Adam Park area while the Suffolk Regiment the Bukit Brown Cemetery area.  In death, casualties of the two regiments are buried in adjacent sections at Kranji.  This photo shows the boundary between the Cambridgeshire Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment in Kranji.

Cambridgeshire and Sullfork regiments are buried side by side (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 10 November, 2013. Cambridgeshire and Suffolk regiments (photo Mok My Yng)

From Jon Cooper. historian and war archeologist on the Adam Park Project, who also  conducts the Battlefield Tour at Cemetery Hill once at month at Bukit Brown:

‘The fate of the missing Suffolks on Bukit Brown is just part of the rich WW2 heritage that can be found on the hills. There were many other units fighting in the area, constantly passing over the cemetery during the ebb and flow of warfare. It is most likely that there are more missing men to be found amongst the headstones.

There will also undoubtedly be spent ammunition and equipment to be found across the site, the remnants of fieldworks and bomb craters and the general detritus of war. Each item will be the part of a big jigsaw of artifacts and by plotting the locations in the landscape it will be possible to gather invaluable information about fighting that took place there.

The impending work on the hills will peel back the top layers and will undoubtedly expose these traces of the past.Hopefully the construction teams, with proper instruction will identify these clues and call in the experts to catalog and retrieve the material before the concrete is poured over it. There is a chance; just one chance to collect this invaluable evidence.

But most of all there is the possibility that we may come across the remains of our missing men. A chance to identify them and lay them to peaceful rest amongst their own. The fact that we go to great lengths to retrieve these men says as much perhaps about the attitude of Singaporeans today as it does about their generation of sacrifice.’

Jon Cooper and Mok Ly Yng (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Jon Cooper and Mok Ly Yng who are working together to identify locations of the fallen Suffolk soldiers (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

 

Mok Ly Yng at the memorial wall looking for the names of the fallen in the Battle on Cemetery Hill ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Mok Ly Yng at the memorial wall looking for the names of the fallen in the Battle on Cemetery Hill ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Matching names of the fallen at Seh Ong Cemetery ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Matching names of the fallen at Seh Ong Cemetery ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The Suffolk Regiment casualties list on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Memorial, columns 53 & 54.

The Suffolk Regiment casualties list on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Memorial, columns 53 & 54. (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Mok Ly Yng is part of the documentation team tasked by the government to record and document graves affected by the impending highway

The Kranji War Memorial is dedicated to the men and women from United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand who died defending Singapore and Malaya against the invading Japanese forces during World War II, it comprises the War Graves, the Memorial Walls, the State Cemetery, and the Military Graves.

Kranji War Memorial 1 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 3 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 4 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 5 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 6 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 7 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 1o November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial 8 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial Sunday 10 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

The Royal Airforce (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial, Sunday 10 November 2013. A member of the Royal Air Force, which is Jon Cooper’s unit (photo Mok Ly Yng)

The Royal Engineers (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial, Sunday 10, November 2013. A member of the Royal Engineers, the unit responsible for mapping and map production (photo Mok Ly Yng)

Kranji War Memorial 2 Sunday 11 November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Kranji War Memorial  Sunday 1o November, 2013 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

 Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt

Everywhere – Where Right and Glory Lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a blog post that will be updated as the destruction continues……

Thursday 28 November ( Pre Exhumation Rituals) : The Roundabout has become a road

28 November (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 28 November the Roundabout becomes a Road (Photo Raymond Goh)

28 November 1 (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Thursday, 28 November: The ‘ole raintree, still there. But for how long more? (photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

A reminder of what it once was, almost exactly a year back in December 2012  :

BB Roundabout Dec 2012 (photo Chua Ai Lin)

Bukit Brown Roundabout : Dec 2012 (photo Chua Ai Lin)

 

Friday 22 November

22nd November Roundabout (photo Andrew Lim)

Friday, 22 November : erecting metal barriers at the Roundabout (photo Andrew Lim)

22nd November Sime Road Seh Ong Cemetery Barricaded (photo Andrew Lim)

Friday, 22 November: Sime Road, Seh Ong Cemetery completelybBarricaded (photo Andrew Lim)

Wednesday 13 November , roundabout paved

13 November Roundabout Paved (photo Ian Chong)

13 November, 2013 Roundabout Paved (photo Ian Chong)

Saturday, 9 November. Morning 9am, no works within the grounds.

Guided walks proceeded from the ‘ole rain tree. Respite!

Saturday 9 November, respite (photo Raymond Goh)

Saturday 9 November, respite (photo Raymond Goh)

Thursday, 7th November. The road works in progress  

Paving the roundabout, and putting up hoardings along Adam Road.

Photos on Flicker on 7th November, 6pm  here

Wednesday 6th November, other areas barricaded by concrete blocks

6 Nov Concrete barricades on Kheam Hock towards Lornie Rd  (photo red herring)

6 Nov Concrete barricades on Kheam Hock Rd towards Lornie Rd (photo public domain)

6 Nov Concrete barricades  (photo red herring)

6 Nov concrete barricades along Seh Ong cemetery (photo public domain)

6 Nov, 5pm  Along Lornie Road, Seh Ong side, getting ready to be barricaded  ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Along Lornie Road, Seh Ong side, getting ready to be barricaded ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

Wednesday 6th November, 2013 clearing continues at the roundabout

6 Nov, 5pm  Roundabout ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Roundabout ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm  Roundabout 1 ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov, 5pm Roundabout 1 ( photo Khoo Ee Hoon)

6 Nov  Roundabout 9 am  (photo red herring)

6 Nov Roundabout 9 am (photo public domain)

6 November a 7.50am (photo red herring)

6 November cu of excavator at roundabout 7.50am (photo public domain)

6 November 7.50am (photo red herring)

6 November roundabout 7.50am (photo public domain)

Tuesday 5th November, 2013. The roundabout is destroyed.

5 Nov roundabout Georgina Chin

5  Nov 2013, roundabout (photo Georgina Chin)

Friday, 11 October, 2013. The roundabout is barricaded and sealed

Roundabout 11 October Sealed (photo Mil Phuah)

11 October Roundabout Sealed (photo Mil Phuah)

Before Oct 11,  2013. The Roundabout

Roundabout August (photo Aaron Chan)

Roundabout before October 11 (photo Aaron Chan)

Sun lit Roundabout May 2013 (photo Aaron Chan)

Sun lit Roundabout May 2013 (photo Aaron Chan)

 

 

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