The Fall of Singapore in 1942 was a significant chapter in the country’s history. This month, the National Heritage Board (NHB) remembers the war with its Battle of Singapore programme. Commemorating the 79th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, the NHB has put together several activities along with special access tours to historic World War II (WWII) sites.

Battle for Singapore
A searchlight being transported by soldiers (Image: Sentosa Development Corporation)

From 20 February to 14 March 2021, you can revisit wartime history and stories through Battle for Singapore 2021. The programmes highlight the stories of tenacity and resilience displayed by our nation’s war heroes during that tumultuous period. The specially curated tours and talks were put together by NHB’s Museum Roundtable (MR) members, citizen historians and heritage enthusiasts.

A Walk-Through Wartime History

Experience history with tours to WWII sites such as the Former Ford Factory and Bukit Brown. Additionally, participants can also tune in online to talks conducted in collaboration with community groups and researchers.

As 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the MR, this year’s event is organised in close partnership with MR institutions. The Fort Siloso Rediscovery Tour for instance will grant participants access to historical sites in the area.

The Sentosa monorail (defunct) passes by the 140mm Coast Defence Guns (Image: Sentosa Development Corporation)

“Through Battle for Singapore 2021, we hope that Singaporeans can rediscover the history behind familiar landmarks and sites around Singapore,” says Mr Gerald Wee, Director of International & Museum Relations, NHB. “We also hope they will be able to unearth diverse and lesser-known stories related to our nation’s WWII past.”

Battle for Singapore 2021 Programmes

The diverse line-up will consist of a total of more than 40 tour runs and programme sessions. Some of the highlights include the Fort Siloso Rediscovery Tour, which is organised in partnership with Sentosa Development Corporation. Through this tour, participants will get to explore the grounds of Fort Siloso with history experts. In addition to access to exclusive areas, the tour also highlights the fort’s role in Singapore’s maritime past.

Fire Director Tower (Image: Sentosa Development Corporation)

Learn more about the Japanese Occupation through archival records and artefacts on display at the former Ford Factory. An interactive mobile app also helps enhance the experience. The two-stop guided tour continues at the newly revamped galleries at the Singapore Discovery Centre. Here, through enhanced technology such as AR, visitors will gain insights into life during the Occupation.

Also featured on the programme is a two-stop guided tour to the Eurasian Heritage Gallery and National Gallery Singapore. At the Eurasian Heritage Gallery, participants will discover how the Eurasian community suffered during WWII under the Japanese Occupation. At the National Gallery Singapore, participants will journey across to explore different perspectives of how WWII was experienced in Singapore.

Interactive Sessions

Known for its laid-back charm, Changi Point has become a destination for leisure and recreation. The Changi Point Walking Tour helps reveal a deeper story, one that is related closely to its military past. Jerome Lim of heritage blog The Long and Winding Road takes participants on a walk around the area, highlighting events that led up to the Fall of Singapore and its aftermath.

The Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital Heritage Gallery Tour you can also learn about WWII through the lens of the hospital. The charitable healthcare facility founded by a group of Cantonese businessmen in 1910 was partly destroyed by bombs in WWII. You can uncover more about the hospital’s war history through a guided tour of the gallery and via an informative sharing session by Mr Lee Kok Leong, curator of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital Heritage Gallery.

Wartime staples garden (Image: Sentosa Development Corporation)

The Battle of Singapore 2021 also brings the experience online for history buffs. An online webinar titled by The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory uncovers the missing voices of the comfort women of Japanese-occupied Singapore during the Second World War. Hosted by Assoc. Prof. Kevin Blackburn, the webinar explains why Singapore comfort women have not come forward with their testimonies as comfort women in other societies in Asia have done since the 1990s.

For more information on Battle of Singapore 2021 and programme registration, log on to museums.com.sg. Slots for the programmes will be allocated on a first-come first served basis.

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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