Lest we forget: Kranji War Memorial

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)

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In honour of those who who died in the line of duty during World War II
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Pictured here is the Stone of Remembrance that leads up to a hill-top terrace.
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More than 4000 gravestones of the Allied soldiers who Allied soldiers and airmen killed defending the Crown
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Christians and Jews fought side by side as brothers
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This grave of a 23-year old J Rose had a stone placed on top of the gravestone, indicating that it was recently visited by his family. As the Jewish people believe, everything else fades; only stones and souls endure.
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Every year, on the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day on 11 November, a memorial service is held to pay tribute to the war dead.
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It was not far from here, by the mouth of the Kranji River, that the Japanese Imperial Guards landed on 9 February 1942. Pictured here is the Cross of Sacrifice.
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If the cost of freedom is a person’s life, it was a very dear price to pay
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A memorial that bears the names of more than 24,000 Allied soldiers and airmen who died during the campaign in Malaya and Indonesia, or in subsequent captivity, and have no known grave
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The star-topped central pylon rises to a height of 24 metres
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The Kranji War Cemetery began as a small cemetery started by the prisoners, which was later endorsed by the Army Graves Service after the re-occupation of Singapore in 1946
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The Singapore Cremation Memorial commemorates 789 soldiers of the Indian Army who died, and were cremated according to Hindu rites
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A Celonese soldier
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Graves of the Muslim soldiers of the Royal Indian Army
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A gunner, merely 18 years of age
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The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes, and built and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
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The Straits of Johor in the distance from where the Japanese Imperial Army launched the attack on 9 February, 1942
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The symbol of Allied powers in WWII

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