There is a sense of humility one feels when you visit any war memorial. Regardless of the country, regardless of your own nationality, it is impossible not to feel a deep sense of respect and at the same time, a sense of insignificance in the presence of those who laid their lives so you can enjoy a life of freedom.
Kranji War Memorial in Singapore is the final resting place of over 4,400 soldiers who perished in WWII; 850 of who remain unidentified. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh soldiers from Britain, Canada, India, Ceylon, Singapore, Malaya, Australia and New Zealand, fought side by side as brothers defending the Crown. More than 24,000 soldiers and airmen also died during the war or subsequently in captivity, and have no known grave till date. A register bearing these details is kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and their names are inscribed on the memorial on the hill top terrace at the Kranji War Memorial.
The hillside cemetery is 2 miles from the Kranji River where the Japanese first landed, crossing the Johor Straits, and launching an attack on 9 February, 1942. Singapore fell to the Imperial Army on 15 February, 1942.
This morning, when I visited the memorial, it was virtually empty with a visitor or two who came to visit. A peaceful setting on the hill side, it was livened up by the chirping of the birds intermixed with the sounds of rat-a-tat firing, probably emerging from the nearby military training grounds. It somewhat created a setting for my visit.
Before 1939, Kranji area was a site of ammunition magazine. Following occupation, the Japanese set up a prison camp at the site. After Singapore was returned to Great Britain, a small cemetery started by the prisoners at Kranji was developed into a permanent war cemetery by the Army Graves Service and burials from all parts of the island, including Buona Vista and Changi which was the site of the main prisoner of war camp in Singapore, were re-concentrated here.
The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes who was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission to build a memorial in Singapore. The columns of the memorial and rows represent the Army and its organised lines of soldiers. The cover on top of the columns represent the Air Force because they resemble the wings of a plane. The shape that extends upwards was modelled after a submarine’s sail, representing the Navy.
I came across a beautiful drone video footage on YouTube which I am pasting below. It shows the aeriel view of the cemetery that was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes. (Source: https://mothership.sg)