Europe wasn’t the only continent to suffer greatly in World War Two. Asia too lost a great many lives and witnessed horrors beyond comprehension. Although muttered throughout history and by many nations: ‘may we never forget and may this never happen again.’
Changi Chapel & Museum
A little way out of the main city but don’t let this put you off visiting as it is easily accessible using public transport. We got the MRT on the East-West (EW) line to Tanah Merah followed by the No.2 bus from exit B of the station (alight once you have passed Changi Women’s prison on the right and then cross the road). This journey can be reversed or we opted for the bus all the way back to the centre allowing us to view more of Singapore pass us by.
Once inside you can book an audio tour to listen to ($8 per adult or $6 per adult if you share); join a tour group ($12 each at selected times); or as long as you are English speaking can make do by reading the information boards. These boards are exceptionally informative taking you from an outline of what the Changi area was like pre-war as it was established as a military enclave through the occupation by the Japanese to the eventual end of WW2.
I naively thought that most of WW2 had centred around Europe (although I had heard of Pearl Harbour & dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan). This museum opened my eyes to the gruesome section of this world war that took place in and around the Pacific. This further highlights why I personally believe travel is essential to education allowing you to learn more about the world we live in including it’s history.
As in all such museums that outline the horrors a nation(s) has suffered I was moved by those acts of kindness that shine through – reminding us that not all humankind is the same. The museum also shows the innovation that people can have when they have nothing as they learnt to make what they needed.
Many suffered greatly but out of it came independence for Singapore.
Top Tip: You are not allowed to take photos inside the museum; these if wanted can be downloaded from the museum website. There is also an adjoining cafe if needed.
Civilian War Memorial
Located opposite the famous Raffles Hotel, the Civilian War Memorial is set in a central green space as a permanent reminder of the suffering of the civilian population of Singapore under Japanese Occupation during 1942-1945.
With four concrete towers striking into the sky surrounded by a fountain-equipped moat, the memorial is simply designed but conveys the important ideas of remembrance. This is especially focused on the suffering of the Chinese population who suffered particularly at the hands of the Japanese occupiers – it is estimated that some 50,000 died with many rounded up in the first few days of occupation accused of anti-Japanese actions and sentiments.
Top Tip: its central location means that this is easily accessed on foot from Bugis, Chinatown and the City Hall districts. Public transport can however be used, with the Esplande MRT station adjoining the park.