Eighty years ago today, Singapore was under siege and soon to witness the largest British surrender in history. Go back in time to the Fall of Singapore as the National Heritage Board’s Battle for Singapore begins this weekend. It’s not just for history buffs; there’s lots for families too. In addition, it’s also a great way to introduce little ones to the living, breathing history that’s all around us. With over 70 tours, talks, and activities from 12 February to 6 March 2022, there’s something for everyone to explore, discover, and learn at Battle for Singapore 2022.
Battle for Singapore 2022 — Highlights
:: HOT PICK! :: 179 Piccadilly. The former Station Headquarters of Royal Air Force (RAF) Seletar, this art deco building overlooked squadrons of planes that defended Malaya and Singapore during World War II. After Singapore fell, it was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. This tour uncovers stories of the airbase, Singapore’s pre-war aviation history, as well as the role of the RAF and the dynamics of airpower in the lead up to the Battle of Singapore.
Twinned tours. These cover WWII stories that complement each other, such as Changi Chapel Museum and Old Changi Hospital, as well as Reflections at Bukit Chandu and the Battle of Pasir Panjang, the last stand of the Malay Regiment during World War II.
Adam Road. This offers insight into battlefield archaeology. It also goes into the battle here, which the British managed to hold against the Japanese right up to the time of surrender on 15 February 1942.
A talk on the OKA9420. The Imperial Japanese Army operated a covert biological and chemical warfare research unit called Unit 731, which established a branch in Singapore. Called OKA9420, this was housed in the College of Medicine building – which is in today’s Singapore General Hospital!
Battle for Singapore — For families and kids
Younger ones can accumulate some history as well, with curator-led tours and family-friendly activities at the National Museum of Singapore, Changi Chapel & Museum, and Reflections at Bukit Chandu:
The Happiness Box Story Narration. This is a dramatised re-telling of the book that was originally written for children who were interned in Changi Prison in 1942.
Letter from Blakang Mati. On this guided puzzle game through Fort Siloso, kids, with the help of Pepper the dinosaur mascot, can uncover letters written for wartime generals.
Interactive storytelling: Timmy & Tammy Talking to Grandpa about the War. Children will learn about banana money, and speak with great-grandma who lived through the war. After that, they’ll be able to explore the National Museum’s Surviving Syonan Gallery.
Lest We Forget walking tour. Take a stroll from the Civilian War Memorial to the Lim Bo Seng War Memorial. In the process, learn about the symbolism in each memorial’s design, and the heroes who sacrificed themselves for Singapore.
Bukit Brown tours. Bukit Brown has the largest repository in Singapore of WWII stories outside of a museum. Hear the stories of patriots, justice fighters and victims who lie here.
Not a tour person? Play the Battle for Singapore Hike-and-Seek game, where you can win Museum Label merch by solving missions on the I Love Museums Facebook page.
Battle for Singapore 2022
When: 12 February to 6 March 2022
Where: Various times and locations
Registration: Opens 10 February, 10am at https://bsg2022.peatix.com
Featured image: National Heritage Board