Monday, September 12, 2005

Commemoration at Kranji

We Will Remember Them

The place came to life this morning. From a far we could see tour buses and cars filling up the grass patch of a make shift parking lot just outside the cemetery. 645am, daylight was sparingly being introduced to the darkened skies. Sailors dressed in their smart white uniforms ushered visitors onto the lawn where white chairs were lined facing the memorial.

Most of the seats where already filled by Seven. Veterans from all over the world gathered here yet again for another ceremony, each year their ranks getting thinner and thinner. Today, the 12th of September marks the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war when the Japanese formally surrendered to the Allied forces in Singapore in 1945.

I told myself that I had to witness this event, for this might just be the last major commemorative event for WWII as veterans get older and older with each passing year.

Here are 15 photographs that best tell the story...

Dawn: Two Navy contingents stand at ease as the ceremony is about to commence

They came from afar:
This veteran, like many others, made it to the ceremony on wheelchairs and walking sticks.

A prayer for all faiths:
Various religious leaders were engaged to say silent prayers for the dead.

Standing up:
Twice, the congregation had to stand up, once for the minutes' silence and once for the National Anthem at the end of the dedication.

Dipping the flag:
As the national Anthem of Singapore was being played.
Kudos to the RI choir for their beautiful rendition of the Majulah Singapura

At Attention:
Navy orderlies flanking the rows of the memorial walls during the proceedings, they were called to attention before marching off.

Stars: I wonder what stories he has to tell

War Heroine:
Elizabeth Choy (2nd from left) with news reporter Pek Siok Lian (on her right)

Overwhelming: A young man looking at the names of the dead

Medals galore:
They caught me taking a picture of them and they promptly posed for me.

Right about here: Two women veterans looking for the grave of a friend perhaps...?

Salute: A lone soldier pays his respects

The story behind the name:
School children listen intently to their tour guide tell the story of the men of Operation Rimau, a failed mission to sink Japanese ships in the Singapore Harbour.

Planting Crosses:
This veteran was planting commemorative wooden crosses infront of this row of graves. I didn't ask him how he knew those men but I noticed they were all from the Royal Artillery

Leaving the past behind:
Beyond the gate is the hustle and bustle of modern Singapore, a veteran steals a moment to have a smoke.

For The Fallen

They went with songs to battle, they were young,
straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them,

ALL: We will remember them.


At 6:32 PM, Anonymous samixie said...

That's really touching - I can say I know nothing about war or guns or bloodshed, and I hope I never have to.

I love the lyrics at the end (is it a song?)

Great job, thanks for this post.

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous KayuWangi said...

Thanks for the coverage. Nice pictures.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger AG said...


At 10:26 PM, Blogger Samantha said...

Great photos! Especially the one with all the different religious leaders standing in a row.

At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent pictures. Where's the place?


At 6:52 AM, Blogger siyang said...

samixie: Thanks, i hope to never have to also.. oh, the passage is one if the short readings done during the ceremony (that was For The Fallen), they also read Pericles' Eulogy (dunno wat's that),one for The Dead and one passage called Our Sons.

thanks kayuwangi and ag..

samantha: thank u, first time i've been to such an event. The bulk of the media and other photographers were standing opposite me on the right of the 'stage', i think i was the only idiot taking pictures from the left.. one of my favourite is the last one :p

lip: its Kranji War Cemetery... take a train to Kranji MRT and take a short bus ride (2 stops).. a great time to visit would be in the evening

At 6:57 AM, Blogger tHemUxIcboX said...

*Touched* Should have taken leave and gone with ya. Love the pic of the lone soldier paying his respect. How come my school never organise outings like this?

At 6:20 PM, Blogger pinto said...

Hi there!

Brilliant post and photos! I've linked to your post. Hope you don't mind.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Little fish said...

Hello. I thought the post was really great and one of the pics prompted a blog...hope you don't mind me linking to your site.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger siyang said...

musicbox: ur school sux? hehe actually my school also didnt organise a trip like this, but nowadays i think there are more such trips...well if you want, we can always go to the next ceremony next year... :p but i think it would be on a less grander scale

k pinto: Thanks for linking me, seems like u are a somewhat of a war buff too? Did u try the Gunfire breakfast that day? I regret having left in such a hurry. (gunfire breakfast is adding rum to coffee..)haiz..

k pinto has some nice pics too:

little fish: thanks, nice article on trying to find out the different religions hehe.. I have seen such pictures taken before and I tought they would be loudy chanting their prayers, but when they came on.. they where all so silent I couldn't hear a thing...which made it very solemn

At 9:53 PM, Blogger chocolate said...

haha, he's just a funny looking old man... what hustle and bustle of the city? lol...


At 9:17 AM, Blogger siyang said...

okay, if that's ur opinion... :) i see more than just a funny looking old man

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Ronald Hee said...

Very nice photos. Am glad you found the ceremony moving, and thank you for making the effort to be there.

Everything that happens in a ceremony like this has a certain symbolism. Pericle's Eulogy is drawn from Pericle's Funeral Oration, which commemorates the sacrifice of soldiers for the city state of Athens, and to remind us that freedom comes at a price. Pericles died in 429 BC.'s_Funeral_Oration

If you or anyone has any questions you would like to ask about the 2nd World War or about our veterans, I'll be happy to try to answer; drop me a line at

Ronald Hee
Honorary Secretary
Ex Services Association of Singapore

At 3:34 AM, Blogger siyang said...

ronald: thanks =) and thank you for the explaination of Pericle's Eulogy... I had to go to the ceremony, blame it on my interest in all things War, especially WWII.


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