Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Battle for Singapore: Adam Park

As early as 12th Feb 2016, there has been WW2 tours going around in Singapore. Many of the tours conducted are places whereby battles were fought. Otherwise, they are places of historic significance relating closely to the war. Talks and exhibitions are also conducted during this time to commemorate the 74th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore

Many of these tours had to be pre-registered. They usually run on the weekends starting somewhere mid of February lasting till the end of the month. This year was the second year I signed up for such tours. Many times, through the guided tours, I get to learn new stories and look at things from a different light.

Some of the fiercest battles that took place were in Adam Park and Pasir Panjang Ridge (Bukit Chandu or Opium Hill). Both places I am interested to know more of their history. 

Sharing below what I have learnt in the Adam Park tour.

Our tour guide was Jon Cooper, an Englishman Battlefield Archaeologist for The Adam Park Project and Changi Museum. He is the founder of Adam Park Project. The team he led has uncovered a treasure trove of objects such as regimental cap badges, gas masks, boots and bullets. It is from these unearthed materials, we learnt more about the battle at Adam Park.

Heritage marker board at junction of Adam Road and Adam Park Road.
Adam Park

The 19 black and white houses (numbered 2-20) were built for municipal purposes in the 1920s. On that morning of 12 February 1945, the British soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment, took up positions in the Adam Park housing estate. The Battalion's headquarters was at house number 7. This is stated in the heritage marker board. However, Adam Park was involved in heavy fighting but this was not mentioned in the heritage marker board. In fact, this place was almost untouched since it was built. This is ideal for archaeology purposes. A lot of artifacts had been found especially in this area. It is believed that similar artifacts could be found around Sime Road (Hellfire Corner) all the way to Bukit Brown and MacRitchie which are nearby. This was the only battle line that was left standing on the 15th February 1942 before they were ordered to cease fire at 4pm. It became a POW camp for 3000 POWs. when the Japanese needed the manpower to build the Shinto shrine in MacRitchie Reservoir. Many of these POWs were later sent to work on the Thai Burma Railway that claimed many life.

"The area covered by the 19 colonial black-and-white houses that make up the Adam Park estate is the site of an intense three days of fighting in the battle for Singapore. It was here that, in February 1942, the men of the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment held off a series of attacks by the troops of the Japanese 41st (Fukuyama) Regiment."
 -quoted from Expatliving.sg. These words were retold again by Jon Cooper during our tour.

This was not my first tour with Jon. I had been to his Hellfire Corner Tour last year which inspired me to write about a short children story regarding Sime Road.

7 Adam Park
The house, 7 Adam Park, was selected as it sits on a reverse slope and was therefore hidden from a downhill view from Bukit Timah Hill which the Japanese had occupied then.
7 Adam Park
Post war, the house was a private residence. It used to be NUSS Guild House. Now it is left vacant after the last restaurant operator left 2 years ago. Could it be used as a museum for Jon's trove of treasure found in Adam Park itself? These were some food for thoughts.

17 Adam Park
17 Adam Park, a private pool can be seen
17 Adam Park used to be the British Regimental Aid Post. It was burnt to the ground. It was set alight on the 15th February as the ceasefire broke down and tank shells tore into the house. The current building is reconstructed.

The house next to number 17 has swings
Sights at Adam Park
This hill, according to Jon, was difficult to take down. The Battalion soldiers were hiding in the interlocking trenches or drains. I wonder whether they are the same drains when we walked past.

16 Adam Park and the "Valley of Death"
16 Adam Park
This house , number 16, was mentioned in a Japanese soldier's account of the war. He mentioned they fired from a very big black and white house. The garden was so extensive that it even has its own golf course. Actually, all the black and white houses looked alike on this hill but this house has its own golf course. Hence, it is believed this was the house the Japanese occupied and was used to attack the British soldiers. This is located near the "Valley of Death". Jon shared how he deduced where the Japanese were fighting from and where the British were defending from by the artifacts that were dug out from various places around the park. I think it is pretty amazing!

Chapel and Murals
The POW chapel is believed to be house 11. House 5 contains another mural.

Social History
Jon shared too the social history of the place. You may want to read about it here. His new book, Tigers in the Park, will be out soon.

"We are appealing to anyone who has heard stories of their fathers or grandfathers who worked in the area to also help provide a snapshot of how life was like then for civilians working with the POWs," said project initiator Jon Cooper, 48, a military historian and archaeologist.
                             - Straits Times , 4 NOV. Jon made a same request on our tour.


Thoughts on the tour
This tour is enlightening , entertaining and interesting!  I have learnt much from the trip. So little is known about Adam Park. I have been goggling about Adam Park but not much is being found. Even Infopedia has no information on this last line of battle which left me pretty disappointed. Luckily with this tour, I managed to learn more about the place. I hope I would be able to pick up the book , 'Battalion at War', which he had mentioned. I hope I will not fall asleep.

Linking with~

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1 comment:

  1. We both shared a place of historic interest today - and I appreciate you coming by to link up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-walls-of-san-juan.html


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