Feb 3, 2020

Explore Secret Bunkers & Discover Singapore's WWII History at Battle for Singapore 2020

Media Invite

8 February 1942 nightfall marked the moment when Japanese forces began the invasion of Singapore. By 15 February, it was all over when the British officially surrendered Singapore to the Japanese.

This year, Singapore will mark 78 years since its fall to the Japanese and as part of National Heritage Board’s (NHB) annual Battle for Singapore programme, members of the public will have the exclusive chance to explore lesser known sites and structures around Singapore that have links with the war.

From 8 to 29 February 2020, you can participate in a wide variety of WWII-related programmes. These include 74 guided tours offered by NHB comprising crowd-favourite tours to two lesser known WWII-related sites (i.e. Former Admiralty House and Former View Road Hospital), soapbox tours at National Museum of Singapore, and more.  You can also look forward to public talks on topics such as Prisoner-of-War art, the Nanyang Mechanics, as well as other offerings at participating MR museums such as tours at Former Ford Factory and in Sentosa, and storytelling sessions by wartime survivors and their relatives at Eurasian Heritage Gallery.

To sign up for Battle for Singapore 2020 programmes, visit www.museums.com.sg. Registration commences 3 February 2020, Monday, at 12 noon, and slots on the programmes will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

And trust me when I say that these tours will get snapped up VERY QUICKLY!

Here are some of the tours that I highly recommend:

Former View Road Hospital
Date: 8*, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 February 2020
Time: 10am to 11.30am, 2pm to 3.30pm (*10am only)
Note: Tours are only open to participants 18 years old and above.

Construction of the main building and annex can be dated back to 1941. It started out as an unfinished building before the war and a completed one by 1945, research into the structures suggest that construction was started by the British before WWII, but subsequently completed and used by the Japanese as a naval base during the Japanese Occupation.

Thereafter, the State property at 10 View Road served as accommodation for the Naval Base Police Force from the 1950s to the early 1970. It was also known for its time as View Road Hospital, a branch of Woodbridge Hospital (now the Institute of Mental Health) until the early 2000s. In 2008, the building was converted into a foreign workers’ dormitory and renamed View Road Lodge. View Road Lodge ceased operations in 2011.

This tour of Former View Road Hospital will unveil more about what is thought of the building’s past dating to WWII and the Japanese defence of Singapore during the Japanese Occupation. And get this, you will get a chance to head down to a bunker too!

Apart from having thickened walls, there is little information available about the bomb-proof office though. But the bunker is HUGE!

You will also get a chance to climb to the fifth storey of the main building and visit the watchtower.

While little is known about the watchtower, it was likely used as a lookout point for occupants of the building during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, given that it would have offered a commanding view of the northern parts of the island, including the former Singapore Naval Base and the Causeway.

The watchtower would have been useful given that the Japanese anticipated the British would attempt to recapture Singapore from the north (from Malaya) and the watchtower would have given them a vantage point to spot enemy movement coming from the north, and to direct artillery fire in the event of a British attempt to cross the Causeway into Singapore.

Transport will be provided for all participants to and from the Former View Road Hospital.

Former Admiralty House & Bunker
Date: 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 February 2020
Time: 10am to 11.30am, 2pm to 3.30pm
Note: Tours are only open to participants who are 18 years old and above.

Surrounded by several ancillary buildings and facilities on a sprawling estate, the Former Admiralty House (now Canberra House) used to accommodate key military commanders based in Singapore. A house on a hill, Former Admiralty House follows a medieval tradition where the most important building is located on the highest elevated ground for defensive purposes and to overlook its surroundings as a reminder to others that they are being supervised. It bears testimony to the former Singapore Naval Base that was part of Britain’s attempt to fortify Singapore in preparation of a Japanese offensive in WWII.

The tour of Former Admiralty House and its surrounding features will reveal more about Singapore’s strategic position in WWII and the stories behind the building. Tour participants will even get to enter an underground bunker that dates back to WWII!

The underground bunker was discovered in 1990 by Mr Tan Seng Heng, the General Manager of Yishun Country Club. He discovered it when a wheel from an excavator suddenly sank into a cavity in the ground during the construction of a landscape garden in the area in front of the bunker.

The floor area of the underground bunker is about 30sqm and while there is limited information available on the use of the underground bunker, it was likely constructed and fitted for use by Japanese ranking officers stationed at Former Admiralty House during the Japanese Occupation.

There is a concrete squat toilet constructed in the underground bunker. During that period, such toilets were seldom built for British Naval officers and it was more likely constructed for use by the Japanese.

Transport will be provided from an MRT station located nearby to the Former Admiralty House and back.

WWII Japanese Administration in Singapore
Date: 16, 29 February 2020
Time: 4pm to 5pm

Have you ever wondered what life in the heart of the city was like during the Japanese Occupation? Join this tour to find out the WWII history of some of our beloved buildings in the Civic District and the different nodes of the Japanese administration that was set up in Singapore under the Japanese Occupation.

During this hour-long walk you will also be introduced to some of the figures who shaped the lives of Singaporeans during the war and learn how the Japanese planned to transform the city into a “nerve centre” of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The tour will start at Raffles Place MRT (Exit A), Ground Level (gathering point) and end at
the Civilian War Memorial.

Former Command House
Date: 8, 16 February 2020
Time: 1pm to 2pm

Hidden on a hill, this stately building is an important part of Singapore’s military history. Discover the stories behind the building, and the people who lived there through the different stages of Singapore’s history. Explore the unique architecture of this “Arts and Crafts” building and more on this exclusive tour to the Former Command House.

The tour will start at the Main Entrance of Former Command House, 17 Kheam Hock Road.

Tour of Changi Prison Entrance Gate, Wall and Turrets
Date: 15 February 2020
Time: 9am to 9.45am, 10am to 10.45am

The Changi Prison Entrance Gate, Wall and Turrets are an enduring symbol of the suffering and hardship felt by Prisoners-of-War during the Japanese Occupation. Hear stories of Singapore’s war-time experience and gain exclusive access to this monument on this special tour!

The tour will start at the main entrance of the Changi Prison Complex, 990 Upper Changi Road North.

Lest We Forget
Date: 22, 23 February 2020
Time: 4pm to 5.30pm

Throughout history, people have erected statues and sculptures in honour of men and women of valour, courage and sacrifice. Tall, impressive and often austere – what do these memorials stand for? Who, or what, are we meant to remember? Discover the symbolism in each memorial’s design as well as the hidden stories behind each sculpture and engraving. More importantly, learn about the heroes who sacrificed themselves for Singapore, lest we forget.

The tour will start at the Civilian War Memorial and end at the Lim Bo Seng War Memorial.

WWII Legacy Trail (Bukit Timah)
Date: 9, 23 February 2020
Time: 10.30am to 12pm

During WWII, Bukit Timah was a key target for the Japanese as the British supply depots, reservoirs and the strategic Bukit Timah Hill were all located in the area. This trail explores WWII-related sites and places that carry the memories and legacies of the Japanese Occupation in Bukit Timah. Stops include the Cheong Chin Nam Road Shophouses, Former Beauty World and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

The tour will start at Beauty World MRT Station (gathering point) and end at Former Ford Factory. 

WWII in Orchard
Date: 15, 29 February 2020
Time: 2pm to 4.30pm 

Have you ever wondered what Orchard Road looked like in times of war and conflict? This trail will take you to sites in Orchard Road that saw action both during the dark days of WWII and the turbulent decades after. This trail will allow you to discover the lesser-known face of Orchard Road by exploring how the legacies of Singapore’s most tumultuous years have been inscribed on sites including the grand MacDonald House and the iconic Cathay Building.

The tour will start at YMCA (gathering point) and end at the former Singapore Chinese Girls’ School campus on Emerald Hill.

“Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets” Battle for Singapore 2020 Edition
Date: 15, 22 February 2020
Time: 10am to 11.30am
Note: Tours are only open to participants 18 years old and above. 

Discover the history of the pavilion-style wards of the Former Communicable Disease Centre. Previously known as the Infectious Diseases Hospital and Middleton Hospital, the centre played a key role in the containment of highly contagious diseases. During the Japanese Occupation, the site was known as Densen Byoin, where sick people with infectious diseases such as typhoid were treated.

The tour will be at the Former Communicable Disease Centre, 72 Moulmein Road.

Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown
Date: 15, 16 February 2020
Time: 8am to 11.30am

Participants will be taken on a walk through the heritage corridor from the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown cemetery. During the tour, the guides will share stories of WWII heroes and prominent personalities at heritage landmarks, including the Jacob Ballas Garden and old Raffles College. Participants will also get to explore the remnants and stories of the ‘kampong’ life that was once at Bukit Brown cemetery, and make a stopover at Former Command House along the route.

The tour will start at Botanic Gardens MRT Station, Ground Level and end at Bukit Brown.

Bukit Brown (Hills 1 and 3)
Date: 15 February 2020
Time: 9am to 11.30am

Bukit Brown remains the largest in situ grave site for WWII casualties in Singapore. This walk will cover the graves of community leader Lim Chong Pang and the harrowing sea journey undertaken to evacuate his family at the start of the War. It will also cover war heroes, such as Wong Chin Yoke and Tan Ean Kiam, who paid a heavy price for their resistance.

Bukit Brown (Hills 2 and 5)
Date: 16 February 2020
Time: 9am to 11.30am

Bukit Brown remains the largest in situ grave site for WWII casualties in Singapore. This walk will cover the graves of ordinary people and provide a glimpse of their stories. The tour will draw on stories from a book compiled and written by the community and will feature a stopover at the grave of war hero, Tay Koh Yat, who was instrumental in setting up a people’s voluntary civil defence force before the war and who was a key figure in gathering evidence for the war tribunal conducted after the war.

Adam Road
Date: 23 February 2020
Time: 9am to 11.30am

Venture into the exciting world of battlefield archaeology and learn more about the WWII Battle at Adam Park. Adam Park was the site of the last battle for Singapore and the place where the British succeeded in holding the line against the Japanese right up to the time of the surrender on 15 February 1942. After the surrender, the site was used as a Prisonersof-War camp.

Battle of Singapore Tours at Sentosa
Date: 8, 15 February 2020
Time: 3pm to 4.30pm
Venue: Fort Siloso (Meeting Point: Fort Siloso Skywalk Lift Lobby)

Date: 22 February 2020
Time: 10am to 11.30am
Venue: Fort Serapong (Meeting Point: Sentosa Cove Village Bus Stop)

Date: 22 February 2020
Time: 3pm to 4.30pm
Venue: Mount Imbiah Battery (Meeting Point: Imbiah Lookout Bus Stop)

Join Fort Siloso in a series of Battle for Singapore Tours at Sentosa. Sentosa played a vital role in the defense of Singapore and the tours will cover the strategies, plots, and follies that led to the Fall of Singapore in WWII. The tours will explore the remains of the 19th century British coastal artillery and fortifications and participants will be taken through the tunnels at Fort Siloso to the Surrender Chambers to witness the two surrender signings in the form of iconic waxworks. Visit HERE to register.

Visit www.museums.com.sg for more information and to register for all tours.

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