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Battle for Singapore 2021

In commemoration of the 79th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, NHB will be organising Battle for Singapore: a series of programmes where Singaporeans can learn more about the events leading up to the fall of Singapore, and about places and stories relating to the Japanese Occupation.

From 20 February to 14 March 2021, members of the public can participate in a series of Battle for Singapore programmes organised in partnership with Museum Roundtable members, citizen historians and heritage enthusiasts. Scroll down for the list of WWII-themed guided tours, museum programmes, and various talks/webinars. (Registration opens 16 February, 12pm, on https://bsg2021.peatix.com.)

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Guided Tours

Webinars & Talks

Other Museum Roundtable Programmes

Guided Tours


Fort Siloso Rediscovery Tour

Date: 20, 21, 27, 28 February, and 6, 7, 13, 14 March 2021
Time: 10am – 12pm, 2pm – 4pm

Fort Siloso played a huge role in the defence of Singapore since 1874 when it was built. During the Second World War, the fort was armed with a variety of guns and deployed submarine mines that deterred an invasion by sea. The fort survived the war and in 1975 restoration of the fort started on its extensive tunnel complexes and gun emplacements. Today, Fort Siloso is Singapore's only preserved coastal fort featuring one of the largest collections of real coastal artillery guns in Asia.

In the Fort Siloso Rediscovery Tour, participants will explore the grounds of Fort Siloso with history experts who will take them on a journey to learn more about the role of the fort in Singapore's maritime past. The highlight of the tour will be visits to areas that are exclusively opened for tour participants. These include the Siloso Pier, coastal mine defence casement, and the Coastal Search Light stations. These areas tell a more complex history of Fort Siloso and will show that a familiar place like Fort Siloso still has many stories to tell.

This tour is led by Dr. John Kwok and Saifullah Kamaludin, and is offered in partnership with Sentosa Development Corporation, in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Museum Roundtable.

About the guides

Dr. John Kwok is a professional historian and has been part of the Battle for Singapore programme since 2014. His research has helped to uncover the history of many war heritage sites in Singapore like Marsiling Tunnels, Attap Valley Bunker, And View Road Building.

Saifullah Kamaludin is a history enthusiast who has been with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) since 2007. He currently co-leads the Culture and Heritage initiatives under the Sustainable Sentosa programme. Over the years, he has channeled his passion into his profession, contributing to the repository of knowledge on Sentosa’s rich heritage and bringing fresh perspectives and insights to the Sentosa story. Aside from managing the operations of Fort Siloso, Saifullah has also developed and conducted a wide range of tours and outreach programmes for SDC, harmonising the education and conservation efforts within Sentosa in the process.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-fsrt.peatix.com.

Note: Tickets at $5 per participant. This tour is open to participants aged 18 and above.


Mini Tour: Former Ford Factory – Singapore Discovery Centre

Date: 20, 28 February 2021
Time: 9.30am – 12pm; 2pm – 4.30pm

Stop 1: Former Ford Factory

15 February marks the anniversary of the surrender of the British to the Japanese in 1942. The boardroom of Ford Factory was where Britain’s Lieutenant-General A.E. Perceival met Lieutenant-General Yamashita and surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese, setting the stage for the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The Former Ford Factory was subsequently restored by the National Archives of Singapore in 2006 and currently houses the permanent World War II exhibition, Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies.

Join us for a special guided tour of Former Ford Factory in February to learn about the fall of Singapore and the Japanese Occupation. Discover wartime stories through archival records, published materials, oral history accounts. You will also get to see selected artefacts that are not on display in the gallery.

Stop 2: Singapore Discovery Centre

At the Singapore Discovery Centre, participants will be brought on an immersive journey where they will learn about the Japanese Occupation and the Fall of Singapore in the newly revamped exhibition galleries. Using enhanced technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and heartwarming stories of our people’s courage, their resistance and resilience, participants will be reminded of the importance of Singapore’s commitment to defence even during peace time. Participants will also be given an exclusive tour to SAF Training Institute (SAFTI) which offers a unique glimpse into the life of an officer cadet and the role of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in the defence and security of Singapore.

This tour is offered in partnership with the Former Ford Factory and Singapore Discovery Centre.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-fffsdc.peatix.com .

Note: Any child participant of/under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.


Mini Tour: Eurasian Heritage Gallery – National Gallery Singapore

Date: 21 February, 6 March 2021
Time: 9.30am – 12pm; 2pm – 4.30pm

Stop 1: Eurasian Heritage Gallery

At the Eurasian Heritage Gallery, tour participants will discover how the Eurasian community, just like the other ethnic groups in Singapore, suffered much during WWII under the Japanese Occupation, and how several war heroes emerged from the trials and tribulations.

Stop 2: Monuments & Memorials: Walking tours of City Hall at National Gallery Singapore

City Hall, formerly known as Municipal Building, has had a rich and colourful history since its completion in 1929. The building has borne witness to defining moments in Singapore history–from serving as a bomb shelter during the Japanese Occupation to housing Singapore’s post-independence government and ministry offices. Today, it forms a wing of National Gallery Singapore. In these building and art tours, guest historian Tan Teng Teng will lead you on a journey through history, making stops at storied locations such as the City Hall Steps and City Hall Chamber. You will also hear reflections on the making of the City Hall: If Walls Could Talk, an exhibition by the Gallery on lesser-known stories that occurred within this national monument. The tour will conclude at the exhibition Siapa Nama Kamu: Art in Singapore since the 19th Century, where selected artworks will be highlighted to contextualise stories and memories of war through the eyes of our artists.

This tour is offered in partnership with the Eurasian Heritage Gallery and National Gallery Singapore. Participants are encouraged to find out more about the “City Hall: If Walls Could Talk” exhibition before the tour, here.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-ehgngs.peatix.com.

Note: Any child participant of/under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.


Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital Heritage Gallery Tour

Date: 27 February, 7 March 2021
Time: 10am – 11am

Learn about the Second World War through the lens of Kwong Wai Shiu Free Hospital, a charitable healthcare facility founded by a group of Cantonese businessmen in 1910. During the occupation, part of the hospital compound was destroyed by bombs. Despite the destruction, the hospital continued with its mission of serving the needy, expanded its services to admit children and infants, and even buried war victims.

Traditionally supported by the Chinese community, the war also led to the reversal of fortunes for some of the hospital’s key patrons such as Ching Kee Sun and Boey Khye Hong. Before the Occupation, they had fervently supported China in its war efforts against the Japanese through participation in Cantonese associations and fund-raising efforts. What happened to these individuals when Singapore became Syonan-To?

Uncover more stories through a tour of the gallery which includes a classroom session where newspapers articles of the period will be shared. Conducted in Mandarin, this tour is led by Mr Lee Kok Leong, curator of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital Heritage Gallery. Limited slots are available, on first-come-first-served basis, so sign up now!

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-kws.peatix.com.

Note: This tour is conducted in Mandarin. Any child participant of/under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

【中文团】或许你是土生土长的新加坡人,又或者你闯荡新加坡多年。你想随我们探索更多鲜为人知的新加坡历史吗?一家由一群广东籍商人在1910年创办的慈善医院。日战时,广惠肇方便留医院部分病房被炸毁。日据时期,军政部为了安抚民心,允许留医院照常运作。医院慈悲为怀,收殓医院附近的死难者,将他们当作医院的病逝者一样收尸殓葬。医院也扩大服务范围,收留小孩与婴儿。

日军占领新加坡前,不少华社领袖包括留医院董事积极参与筹赈会活动,支援中国抗日战争。新加坡沦陷后,这些抗日份子的命运有了翻天覆地的变化。留医院义务司理梅启康和总理兼正主席曾紀宸等人能熬过昭南岛那三年八个月的黑暗日子吗?

在这次的徒步行中,你将参观留医院四座受保留建筑、任重道远历史展馆及参与课堂分享。让李国梁先生,广惠肇留医院展馆策展人,带你走入时光隧道。名额有限,报名从速。

注意: 12岁以下的参与者需有家长全程陪同


Lest We Forget Walking Tour

Date: 27 February and 13 March 2021
Time: 5pm – 6.30pm

Throughout history, people have erected statues and sculptures in honour of men and women of valour, courage and sacrifice. Tall, impressive and often austere – what do these memorials stand for? Who, or what, are we meant to remember?

Discover the symbolism in each memorial’s design as well as the hidden stories behind each sculpture and engraving. More importantly, learn about the heroes who sacrificed themselves for Singapore, lest we forget.

This tour is led by Preservation of Sites and Monuments (PSM) Volunteer Guides. The tour will start at the Civilian War Memorial and end at the Lim Bo Seng War Memorial.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-lwf.peatix.com.

About the PSM Volunteer Guides

The PSM Volunteer Guides are a group of passionate heritage enthusiasts who help promote awareness and interest in Singapore's history through our National Monuments and historic sites. They conduct regular outdoor walking tours for the public and each tour covers up to 3 National Monuments.


WWII Changi Point Walking Tour

Date: 28 February, 7 March 2021
Time: 9am – 11am

Known for its laid-back charm, Changi Point has become a destination for leisure and recreation. Many of its present-day leisure and recreational facilities tell a deeper story; one that very much has to do with a military past and the events in the lead up to the Fall of Singapore and its aftermath.

Join Jerome Lim of The Long and Winding Road on a walk around Changi Point and its boardwalk to uncover its history through its sports and recreational facilities, geographical features, facilities and some surprising remnants of the past and to examine the roles that some may have played during the Second World War.

Points of Interests:
  • Changi Coastline
  • Sports and recreational facilities including Changi Padang
  • Barracks and Residences including the former Block 24 RAF Hospital Changi (outside)
About the guide

Jerome Lim blogs on The Long and Winding Road in an attempt to capture his experiences of Singapore in a constant state of flux. The site, on which Jerome also celebrates Singapore’s heritage through photographs, was twice awarded the Singapore Blog Award’s Best Photography Blog. For more information, please visit: https://thelongnwindingroad.wordpress.com.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-changipoint.peatix.com. More details on the gathering point will be sent to participants upon registration.

Note: This tour is open to participants aged 18 and above.


Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown

Date: 21 February 2021
Time: 8.30am – 11.30am

Participants will be taken on a walk through the heritage corridor from the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown cemetery. During the tour, the guides will share stories of WWII heroes and prominent personalities at heritage landmarks, including the Jacob Ballas Garden and old Raffles College. Participants will pass by the Former Command House along the route and end in Bukit Brown to learn about the battle that took place there with the British and Indian soldiers at the former kampung (village).

This tour is led by Bianca Polak and Claire Leow of All Things Bukit Brown.

About the guides and All Things Bukit Brown

Bianca Polak is of Dutch origin and has been living in Singapore for the past 21 years. She is a volunteer guide conducting free heritage tours in Bukit Brown cemetery and she co-curated the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown walk together with Claire.

Claire Leow is a co-founder of All Things Bukit Brown and is passionate about heritage and community building. She loves sharing her stories of the cemetery with the public during her tours and talks.

All Things Bukit Brown is a group of volunteers who record the heritage, habitat and history of Bukit Brown and its surrounding area, and the history of Singapore since 1819.

The tour will start at Botanic Gardens MRT Station, Ground Level and end at Bukit Brown. Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-bb.peatix.com. More details on the gathering point will be sent to participants upon registration.


Bukit Brown (Hills 3 and 2)

Date: 27 February 2021
Time: 9am – 11.30am

Bukit Brown is by accident of history the largest repository of WWII stories outside of a museum. It’s the final home to tragic patriots like Tan Ean Kiam, valiant fighters for justice like Tay Koh Yiat and many countless victims like Soh Koon Eng. It’s a story book that never stops regaling. Let Fabian Tee take you back to a time when fates collide and all lives were turned upside down.

This tour is led by Fabian Tee of All Things Bukit Brown.

About the guide and All Things Bukit Brown

Fabian is a volunteer guide who conducts free heritage tours in Bukit Brown cemetery and his tours cover various topics from revolutionaries, to crazy rich Asians, to war themes. He is bilingual and conducts tours in both English and Mandarin.

All Things Bukit Brown is a group of volunteers who record the heritage, habitat and history of Bukit Brown and its surrounding area, and the history of Singapore since 1819.

The tour will be held at Bukit Brown. Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-bb32.peatix.com. More details on the gathering point will be sent to participants upon registration.


Battle of Bukit Brown / Mount Pleasant

Date: 7 March 2021
Time: 8am – 11.30am

The tour follows the course of the battles on 14-15 February 1942 as the Japanese 5th Division attempted to capture the MacRitchie Reservoir area and attack south through Bukit Brown and Mount Pleasant, which were defended by the British 18th Division.

This tour is led by Beng Tang of All Things Bukit Brown.

About the guide and All Things Bukit Brown

Beng Tang is a volunteer nature and heritage guide who leads tours on the history of WWII and the biodiversity of Bukit Brown.

All Things Bukit Brown is a group of volunteers who record the heritage, habitat and history of Bukit Brown and its surrounding area, and the history of Singapore since 1819.

The tour will start beside the golf course at Sime Road and end at Mount Pleasant Road. Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-bbmp.peatix.com. More details on the gathering point will be sent to participants upon registration.


Bukit Brown (Hills 3 and 4)

Date: 13 March 2021
Time: 9am – 11.30am

Join Peter Pak of All Things Bukit Brown as he takes you on an exploration of Bukit Brown and hear stories of tragedy (the sinking of a ship that led to deaths of many women and children); of betrayal (leading to the death of the King’s Medal recipient. His ashes were only returned 11 years later and given a hero’s burial). Peter will also reveal the story of an ambush by the resistance forces that led to the death of a pioneer whose burial was touted by the Japanese Military Administration as Syonan-to’s first public funeral and for another survivor of that very same ambush, the event transformed his life tremendously as he went on after the war to play a pivotal role in the growth of Buddhism in Singapore.

Finally, we will hear stories of collaboration by Chinese leaders who were forced under duress or collaborated as part of survivoral instinct or for personal gain; hear the stories of how they survived or died during this difficult period in Singapore’s history at Singapore’s heritage park, Bukit Brown.

About the guide and All Things Bukit Brown

Peter Pak is a volunteer guide for All Things Bukit Brown and a blogger who writes under the moniker of Rojak Librarian (mymindisrojak.blogspot.com)

All Things Bukit Brown is a group of volunteers who record the heritage, habitat and history of Bukit Brown and its surrounding area, and the history of Singapore since 1819.

The tour will be held at Bukit Brown. Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-bb34.peatix.com. More details on the gathering point will be sent to participants upon registration.


Webinars & Talks


HistoriaSG: Behind Memoirs of a Flying Tiger – Dialogue with World War Two Pilot and Veteran Captain Ho Weng Toh

Date: 20 February 2021
Time: 2pm – 3pm
Venue: Gallery Theatre, Basement Level, National Museum of Singapore

Captain Ho Weng Toh, currently 101 years old and one of the last remaining Flying Tigers, has lived a vibrant life, from growing up in Ipoh and studying in Hong Kong, to becoming a Chinese Air Force B-25 bomber pilot during World War Two (WWII), and finally, settling down in Singapore to train an entire generation of local pilots for Singapore International Airlines (SIA). In 2019, he documented his experiences as a bomber pilot and the trials and hardships of the war years in Memoirs of a Flying Tiger.

Join us for a dialogue with Captain Ho at the National Museum of Singapore, where he and co-writer Jonathan Y.H. Sim will share more about the writing of his memoirs and discuss his experiences during WWII.

This programme is conducted in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021. Limited spaces are available for the on-site session at the National Museum of Singapore – please visit https://hsg-flyingtigers.peatix.com for registration. $5 per pax includes light refreshments (to be consumed after the programme). A concurrent livestream of the programme will also be available free of charge on the National Museum of Singapore Facebook page.


[Webinar] WWII @ Bukit Brown

Date: 28 February 2021
Time: 10.30am
Venue: Conducted via Zoom

Learn about some of the final battles before Singapore fell to the Japanese in World War II. Join Beng Tang from All Things Bukit Brown in his sharing about the fighting which took place on Valentine's day and Chinese New Year, 14-15 February 1942, between elements of the battle-hardened Japanese 5th division and the part-time soldiers of the British 18th division, at Sime Road Golf Course, Bukit Brown Cemetery, and Mount Pleasant estate.

About the speaker

Beng Tang is a volunteer nature and heritage guide who leads tours on the history of WWII and the biodiversity of Bukit Brown.

All Things Bukit Brown is a group of volunteers who record the heritage, habitat and history of Bukit Brown and its surrounding area, and the history of Singapore between 1833 and 1973, covering the first burial to the closing date of the cemetery.

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-WWIIBB.peatix.com. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants prior to the talk.


[Webinar] The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory

Date: 6 March 2021
Time: 10.30am
Venue: Conducted via Zoom

Why have the voices of Singapore women who worked in the sex industry of the Japanese military in Singapore during the Second World War been missing from history? Were there Singapore women working as comfort women? This talk uncovers the missing voices of the comfort women of Japanese occupied Singapore during the Second World War and explains why Singapore comfort women have not come forward with their testimonies as other comfort women in other patriarchal societies in Asia have done so since the 1990s.

About the speaker

Kevin Blackburn is an Associate Professor in History at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has taught in Singapore since 1993, when he left the History Department of the University of Queensland to take up his present teaching position. He teaches and researches the history and memory of the Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia. On the study of war and commemoration, he has co-authored with Karl Hack, Did Singapore Have to Fall? (Routledge, 2004) and War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore (NUS Press, 2012), as well as co-edited with him Forgotten Captives in Japanese Occupied Asia (Routledge, 2008).

Registration and more details at https://bsg2021-cw.peatix.com. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants prior to the talk.


Archives Invites – Viknesh Kobinathan: Witness to War: Memories and Screens

Date: 25 February 2021
Time: 6pm – 7pm
Venue: Conducted via Zoom

Inspired by the exhibition Witness to War: Remembering 1942 organised by the National Museum of Singapore in 2017, the Asian Film Archive (AFA) curated Memories and Screens, an international film programme that traced the historical development of and sentiments to the Fall of Singapore and the Pacific Theatre of World War II. From Japan’s first feature-length animation to a P. Ramlee Malay classic; from a star-studded Hollywood feature to a French arthouse gem, AFA's Film Programmer, Viknesh Kobinathan will share his insights on how this diverse film programme was conceived.

About the speaker

Viknesh Kobinathan is a programmer at the Asian Film Archive (AFA), where he curates film screenings and discursive events that examine issues affecting Asian societies, explore the art of Asian cinema, and further the preservation mission of the AFA. He also oversees the commissioning project, Monographs, a series that features written and video essays about Asian cinema conceived during the uncertainty of the global pandemic. Viknesh holds an MA in Film Studies from the National Film and Television School in England and was previously the programme manager at independent cinema venue, The Projector. Community histories unfold in this series that traces Singapore’s social past with help from the archives.

Interested parties can register at https://go.gov.sg/25feb-edm. This programme is presented in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021.


Other Museum Roundtable Programmes


Interactive Storytelling: Timmy & Tammy Talking to Grandpa about the War

Date: 13 March 2021
Time: 10.30am – 11am, 3.30pm – 4pm
Venue: National Museum of Singapore

In this storytelling session based on the popular children’s book Timmy & Tammy Talking to Grandpa about the War, children will learn about banana money and food ration cards that were used during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore, and speak with Great-grandma, who lived through World War II. After the session, explore the Surviving Syonan gallery in your own time with the help of a list of highlights.

Each ticket admits one child and one adult (parent or grandparent) only. Limited to 22 adult-child pairs due to safe management measures.

Interested parties can register at https://timmytammy210313.peatix.com. This programme is presented in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021.

Note: Suitable for families with children aged 5 to 9


Adventures in Architecture Tour @ National Gallery Singapore

Date: 14 March 2021
Time: 11am–12pm; 2–3pm
Venue: National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore is a building and space anchored by time and history. Its architecture has many grand and recognisable features. What are the shapes that make the Corinthian Columns in the City Hall Chamber? Can you spot familiar shapes on the terrazzo floor at the former Supreme Court building? ‘Adventures in Architecture’ is a tour that encourages families to explore the rich history and architecture of the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings and to think about shapes we see in everyday life. Children will also be introduced to basic architectural terms and vocabulary. In conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021, the tour will be highlighting the war-time significance of the building as well as architectural elements related to Singapore’s WWII history.

Interested parties can register at https://bsg2021-adventures.peatix.com/ (for 11am session) and https://bsg2021-adventures2.peatix.com/ (for 2pm session). This programme is presented in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021.

Note: Suitable for families with children aged 5 to 8


Eurasian Heritage Gallery – Battle for Singapore Special Tour Programme

Date: 20, 27 February, 13 March 2021
Time: 11am – 1pm

As part of Battle for Singapore 2021, the Eurasian Heritage Gallery (EHG) will be organising special WWII-themed tours. The tour will begin with a hands-on poppy-making activity. Wearing their self-made poppy, participants will then discover how the Eurasian community, just like the other ethnic groups in Singapore, suffered much during WWII under the Japanese Occupation, and how several war heroes emerged from the trials and tribulations. The tour ends with a sharing by a Eurasian war survivor. Light refreshments will be provided.

Interested parties can register at https://eurasianheritagegallery.peatix.com/. Tickets are priced at $10 per pax. This programme is presented in conjunction with Battle for Singapore 2021.