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Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

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Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby singapore eagle » Sat, 09 May 2015 5:17 pm

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of VE day. There were commemorations across Europe.

It got me wondering: why doesn't Singapore make any real attempt to remember the second world war? Many thousands of people died here to defend and then liberate the country.

Nothing happens here by accident, so there must be a conscious reason. Does anyone know?

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby JR8 » Sat, 09 May 2015 6:02 pm

Good question. Maybe they don't want to risk offending influential neighbours?

[In Japan itself, in my experience, it's verging on a taboo subject. I don't know if they have a 'war museum' as such, there is the Yasukuni Shrine to the war dead, but it's a source of routine controversy as it attracts the local equivalent of neo-Nazis, ultra-Nationalists].

Is it covered at the 'National Museum of Singapore'? It's so long since I've been that I've forgotten...

There is the http://www.changimuseum.sg/ - but that's way off the beaten-track for most people.
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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 09 May 2015 7:00 pm

There is also the Ford Factory where the surrender took place as well.

http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-sin ... ctory.html

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby Strong Eagle » Sun, 10 May 2015 5:03 am

You may also recall that the British had guns pointing seaward, at Labrador Park, to repel the expected Japanese invasion from the south. Only, they came from the north and the British high command refused to turn the guns northward, leaving Singapore a sitting duck for the invading forces. Not much to celebrate, and the image of British 'invincibility' was forever shattered.

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby singapore eagle » Sun, 10 May 2015 9:04 am

That's the only narrative my wife has: Singapore was abandoned by the British.

Mention Sook Ching, Lim Bo Seng or Operation Tiderace, and she's a complete blank.

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby curiousgeorge » Sun, 10 May 2015 10:28 am

Strong Eagle wrote:You may also recall that the British had guns pointing seaward, at Labrador Park, to repel the expected Japanese invasion from the south. Only, they came from the north and the British high command refused to turn the guns northward, living Singapore a sitting duck for the invading forces. Not much to celebrate, and the image of British 'invincibility' was forever shattered.


Historians have mostly debunked this version of events, as the guns *were* turned around and hit targets across Singapore and Johore. The problem was lack of High Explosive rounds which might have inflicted heavy casualties on the invading forces, whereas the armour-piercing rounds (anti-ship) were not effective. Additionally, the flat-trajectory of anti-naval guns doesn't work across land so well.
The British did also anticipate invading forces form the north - in fact there was a military plan, Operation Matador, that was all about protecting Singapore from the Malay peninsular. This plan was in place as early as the first WW.

However, come WWII, Churchill procrastinated on the plan, diverting resources to the middle east and Russia. That left a couple of British Indian units and an Aussie battalion protecting the north without tanks, aeroplanes etc. The Japanese "bicycle infantry" were more mobile and effective at jungle warfare, despite fewer numbers and that led to "the worst capitulation in British history" as Churchill put it.

One also wonders if Churchill allowed the little red dot to be taken to force the dithering USA into the war.

But as for the guns at Sentosa & Labrador Park...there was never any naval attack from the south so it looks like they fulfilled their role :p

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby JR8 » Sun, 10 May 2015 11:11 am

singapore eagle wrote:That's the only narrative my wife has: Singapore was abandoned by the British.
Mention Sook Ching, Lim Bo Seng or Operation Tiderace, and she's a complete blank.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tiderace

Perhaps she should should meet my father and suggest that to him :)

He was on a ship amongst a British Navy fleet headed for Singapore as the war in Europe was ending ('VE') and, and it was continuing in Asia, WW2 finally ending with 'VJ'.

Moving fleets takes time, not least with diminished resources and hugely long supply lines. They'd already done stops en route in various colonies, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Palestine (now Israel), Egypt, and Aden (now incorporated into Yemen).

Perhaps there were other fleets en route, I don't know, but he was Singapore bound, and had got as far as Aden when VJ was declared.
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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby Wd40 » Sun, 10 May 2015 6:26 pm

singapore eagle wrote:Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of VE day. There were commemorations across Europe.

It got me wondering: why doesn't Singapore make any real attempt to remember the second world war? Many thousands of people died here to defend and then liberate the country.

Nothing happens here by accident, so there must be a conscious reason. Does anyone know?


I dont think the world wars are remembered in any of the colonies. My guess is, it is because during the world wars, the troops represented the colonial masters and not the colonies themselves. In India too, nobody remembers it. We are only taught about the freedom struggle and our own independence day.

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby JR8 » Sun, 10 May 2015 7:02 pm

I wonder how SG might look today if the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) hadn't been forced to surrender by the Allied powers. Seems curious that's not something that is taught and considered in Asia (?) today. Or perhaps not.

Britain was occupied by the Roman Army 2,000 years ago... and children are still comprehensively taught about it at school. Then the bloody French (;)) trying to invade in 1066.... we spent forever on that... and yet longer on the Spanish Armada (attempted invasion) 1588.

Perhaps it is like collecting antiques, a lot of Asians seem really puzzled why it's a thing for many non-Asians to pay lots to collect 'old stuff' :)

p.s. My late father-in-law (SGn) lived through the JPnese occupation here in SG; I believe they conscripted him into some admin work role. He had some interesting reminiscences. My mother spent her pre-teens living through the Nazi occupation of her continental European country.
Add it all together (with my father and other relatives) and it gives something of a kaleidoscope of experiences from various points around the world.
What do they say, something like; 'Understand your past, to better gauge your future'.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby singapore eagle » Sun, 10 May 2015 7:31 pm

Wd40 wrote:
singapore eagle wrote:Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of VE day. There were commemorations across Europe.

It got me wondering: why doesn't Singapore make any real attempt to remember the second world war? Many thousands of people died here to defend and then liberate the country.

Nothing happens here by accident, so there must be a conscious reason. Does anyone know?


I dont think the world wars are remembered in any of the colonies. My guess is, it is because during the world wars, the troops represented the colonial masters and not the colonies themselves. In India too, nobody remembers it. We are only taught about the freedom struggle and our own independence day.


I can completely see why that would be the case in India. But Japan occupied Singapore, and when they were here they weren't exactly friendly to the local population.

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Re: RE: Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby Wd40 » Sun, 10 May 2015 7:39 pm

singapore eagle wrote:[quote="Wd40"][quote="singapore eagle"]Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of VE day. There were commemorations across Europe.

It got me wondering: why doesn't Singapore make any real attempt to remember the second world war? Many thousands of people died here to defend and then liberate the country.

Nothing happens here by accident, so there must be a conscious reason. Does anyone know?


I dont think the world wars are remembered in any of the colonies. My guess is, it is because during the world wars, the troops represented the colonial masters and not the colonies themselves. In India too, nobody remembers it. We are only taught about the freedom struggle and our own independence day.[/quote]

I can completely see why that would be the case in India. But Japan occupied Singapore, and when they were here they weren't exactly friendly to the local population.[/quote]


The reason that applies for India applies for Singapore too. Only difference is in Singapore's case there were 2 colonial masters involved instead of 1.

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby JR8 » Sun, 10 May 2015 7:52 pm

singapore eagle wrote:I can completely see why that would be the case in India. But Japan occupied Singapore, and when they were here they weren't exactly friendly to the local population.


They weren't exactly friendly to the captured Brits either who were held in a POW camp (ditto in Batam, Burma, etc IIRC).

Anyway... that's enough from me I think...
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: RE: Re: RE: Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby ecureilx » Sun, 10 May 2015 8:54 pm

Wd40 wrote:. Only difference is in Singapore's case there were 2 colonial masters involved instead of 1.


Meaning ?

Am a bit lost there

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Re: RE: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby ecureilx » Sun, 10 May 2015 8:57 pm

L
singapore eagle wrote:Nothing happens here by accident, so there must be a conscious reason. Does anyone know?


Singapore honours the British Australian and Americans who died during WW2 with a Ceremony at Kranji war memorial, can't recall when it happens

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kranji_War_Memorial

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cenotaph,_Singapore

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_War_Memorial
Last edited by ecureilx on Sun, 10 May 2015 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why doesn't Singapore remember World War II?

Postby x9200 » Sun, 10 May 2015 9:32 pm

JR8 wrote:What do they say, something like; 'Understand your past, to better gauge your future'.

Or, Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.


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