Explore the Sites and Stories of Singapore’s World War II History With NHB’s Battle For Singapore

  • 07:19 AM, 15 Feb, 2024
 Character of Baba boy Henry-Signals division played by Alfred Loh (Courtesy of Global Cultural Alliance)  

(Singapore, 14 February 2024) The National Heritage Board (NHB)’s annual Battle for Singapore invites participants to explore the sites and stories of Singapore’s war-time past. In commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, this year’s line-up features special access programmes including guided tours, theatrical experiences, talks, film screenings and exhibitions. Sites featured include one which witnessed some of the first landings of the invading Japanese forces, and the bunker where the decision to surrender to the Japanese was made.

Character of British Officer Thorpe_played by Justin Lee (Courtesy of Global Cultural Alliance)

Mr Goh Chour Thong, Director of International & Museum Relations, NHB, said: “Stories of human resilience, hope and perseverance through the toughest of times never grow old. We are delighted to be working again with our Museum Roundtable partners and partner agencies to present yet another edition of Battle for Singapore. Through our programme offerings, many of which are new, participants can appreciate the situation and context which residents of Singapore found themselves in more than 80 years ago, in novel and engaging ways. We are also always excited to help Singaporeans rediscover physical vestiges of Singapore’s World War II (WWII) history which still remain amidst our changing urban landscape. As with previous years, it is our sincere hope that all Battle for Singapore participants will gain a deeper sense of how our WWII experiences helped shape Singapore’s nationhood and future lives.”

 Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown (Courtesy of NParks)

Off the Beaten Track Exploration

This year’s Battle for Singapore will take place from 17 February to 3 March 2024. One of the key programmes is the Cycling Buona Vista tours led by historian Dr John Kwok and heritage researcher and writer Mr Lee Kok Leong down the Buona Vista defence line. 

Participants will learn of the strategies employed by both the invading Japanese forces and the defending Allied forces as they trace the final battles for Singapore that erupted in the southwestern region spanning Pasir Panjang, Gillman Barracks, Alexandra Military Hospital and other military sites.

Cashin House (Courtesy of NParks)

Another programme highlight will be the tours to Cashin House (above) at Lim Chu Kang Nature Park. Built on a pier overlooking the Johor Strait, it witnessed some of the first landings of the invading Japanese forces during the initial wave of attacks launched by the Japanese army on 8 February 1942. The site is only accessible through the National Parks Board’s (NParks) specially curated programmes and activities, covering topics such as heritage and nature appreciation.

Cycling Buona Vista - Over Gillman Flyover (Bailey Bridge viewpoint) (Courtesy of National Heritage Board)

Other Battle for Singapore 2024 Programmes

There will also be a diverse line-up of programmes in collaboration with NHB’s Museum Roundtable (MR) members. A 110-minute immersive theatrical experience titled NO QUESTION OF SURRENDER: Three Days Before the Fall will premiere at the official opening of Battlebox, an educational tourist destination which used to be the Fort Canning Bunker where Lieutenant-General Arthur E. Percival and the Allied forces made the decision to surrender to the invading Japanese forces. Other new offerings which are part of Battle for Singapore include food-related programmes at the National Museum of Singapore, such as a special WWII edition of Makan with Seniors and an opportunity to taste and learn the recipes of wartime cooks.

SpitFire (Courtesy of MINT Museum of Toys)

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) will also be coming on board with an artist tour and conversation with Ho Tzu Nyen and Dr Ma Jung-Yeon. The tour and conversation will centre on Ho’s Hotel Aporia video installation currently on display at SAM (part of the ongoing exhibition Ho Tzu Nyen: Time and the Tiger) which confronts the complex ideological and historical backdrops that plagued the 1940s – giving participants an opportunity to delve deeper into the role of art in unpacking complex histories. Other collaborating MR partners this year include Changi Chapel and Museum, Former Ford Factory, Fort Siloso, MINT Museum of Toys, Navy Museum and Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Overall, this year’s entire programme line-up will feature more than 25 programmes and over 70 tour runs covering various formats and collaborations, including those offered by MR members, academics, heritage enthusiasts and interest groups. 

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