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Civilian War Memorial

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The year was 1942. World War II had begun and while soldiers of all nationalities fought bravely to their deaths, civilians had also been caught in the crossfire. Singapore was no exception. Before the Japanese had invaded Singapore, they had occupied Manchuria in 1931 and spread all over the rest of China in 1937. Chinese immigrants in Singapore strongly opposed the invasion of the Japanese of their homeland and boycotted Japanese wares to express their animosity of the Japanese.  This would soon prove consequential to the Chinese. The Japanese conquered Singapore in a matter of days, renaming her Syonan-to. Countless numbers of Chinese-immigrants and Straits-born-were to report to mass-screening centres all over the fear-stricken island. Chinese men aged 18-50 were all affected. Those identified to be anti-Japanese were executed by the Kempaitai in what was known as the Sook Ching – an effort by the Japanese to purge Singapore of all people who were against the Japanese rule. The Japanese reported the death toll to be 6,000-but official estimates range between 25,000 to 50,000.

The remains of the civilians of the Japanese Occupation were discovered in areas like Siglap, Changi and Bukit Timah. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry(SCCC) carried out the gathering of the remains and the creation of a memorial for the innumerable lives lost. On March 13 1963, the then Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew set aside a piece of land at Beach Road for the building of the Civilian War Memorial, which finished construction in January 1967, costing a total of $500,000.

Every year on Total Defence Day here in Singapore, a memorial service is held at the Civilian War Memorial to remember the victims of the Sook Ching. Four similar pillars, each 70 metres high, make up the Memorial. They represent the experiences the four main races in Singapore have shared together-Eurasian, Malay, Chinese and Indian. The four pillars are connected together at the base, symbolising the strong harmony within the four races.

The year was 1942. World War II had begun and while soldiers of all nationalities fought bravely to their deaths, civilians had also been caught in the crossfire. Singapore was no exception. Before the Japanese had invaded Singapore, they had occupied Manchuria in 1931 and spread all over the rest of China in 1937. Chinese immigrants in Singapore strongly opposed the invasion of the Japanese of their homeland and boycotted Japanese wares to express their animosity of the Japanese.  This would soon prove consequential to the Chinese. The Japanese conquered Singapore in a matter of days, renaming her Syonan-to. Countless numbers of Chinese-immigrants and Straits-born-were to report to mass-screening centres all over the fear-stricken island. Chinese men aged 18-50 were all affected. Those identified to be anti-Japanese were executed by the Kempaitai in what was known as the Sook Ching – an effort by the Japanese to purge Singapore of all people who were against the Japanese rule. The Japanese reported the death toll to be 6,000-but official estimates range between 25,000 to 50,000.

The remains of the civilians of the Japanese Occupation were discovered in areas like Siglap, Changi and Bukit Timah. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry(SCCC) carried out the gathering of the remains and the creation of a memorial for the innumerable lives lost. On March 13 1963, the then Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew set aside a piece of land at Beach Road for the building of the Civilian War Memorial, which finished construction in January 1967, costing a total of $500,000.

Every year on Total Defence Day here in Singapore, a memorial service is held at the Civilian War Memorial to remember the victims of the Sook Ching. Four similar pillars, each 70 metres high, make up the Memorial. They represent the experiences the four main races in Singapore have shared together-Eurasian, Malay, Chinese and Indian. The four pillars are connected together at the base, symbolising the strong harmony within the four races. 


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