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“Their name liveth for evermore”

Today, I visited Kranji War Cemetery for work.

It was my first time there in several years, and it was good to be back. The place is vast, very quiet and peaceful, and evokes a lot of feelings. If it wasn’t so far away from the rest of civilisation, I’d gladly work there every day.

The origin of Kranji War Cemetery, from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website:

After the (Fall of Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942), the Japanese established a prisoner of war camp at Kranji and eventually a hospital was organised nearby at Woodlands.

After the reoccupation of Singapore, the small cemetery started by the prisoners at Kranji was developed into a permanent war cemetery by the Army Graves Service when it became evident that a larger cemetery at Changi could not remain undisturbed. Changi had been the site of the main prisoner of war camp in Singapore and a large hospital had been set up there by the Australian Infantry Force. In 1946, the graves were moved from Changi to Kranji, as were those from the Buona Vista Military Cemetery. Many other graves from all parts of the island were transferred to Kranji together with all Second World War graves from Saigon Military Cemetery in French Indo-China (now Vietnam), another site where permanent maintenance could not be assured.

The Commission later brought in graves of both World Wars from Bidadari Christian Cemetery, Singapore, where again permanent maintenance was not possible.

There are now 4,461 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated at KRANJI WAR CEMETERY. More than 850 of the burials are unidentified. The Chinese Memorial in Plot 44 marks a collective grave for 69 Chinese servicemen, all members of the Commonwealth forces, who were killed by the Japanese during the occupation in February 1942.

First World War burials and commemorations number 64, including special memorials to three casualties known to have been buried in civil cemeteries in Saigon and Singapore, but whose graves could not be located.

Within Kranji War Cemetery stands the SINGAPORE MEMORIAL, bearing the names of over 24,000 casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces who have no known grave. Many of these have no known date of death and are accorded within our records the date or period from when they were known to be missing or captured. The land forces commemorated by the memorial died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity, many of them during the construction of the Burma-Thailand railway, or at sea while being transported into imprisonment elsewhere. The memorial also commemorates airmen who died during operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and the surrounding seas and oceans.

At least this is one cemetery in Singapore that will not be acquired by the authorities for redevelopment.

As I’ve said before - I’d gladly live among the dead, because unlike the living, the dead is harmless to me. The dead do not hate, or judge, or gossip, or back-stab.


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