The Second World War came to Malaya and Singapore on 8 December 1941, more than two years after it broke out in Europe. After the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, the island was renamed Syonan-To (Light of the South) and it spent the next 3 years and 7 months under the Japanese Occupation (1942–45). The war ended in the Asia-Pacific with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender in Singapore on 12 September 1945.
As part of the efforts to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, the National Heritage Board launched a new World War II Trail in 2013. This contains information about the historic sites and events associated with the Battle for Singapore and the Japanese Occupation. It identifies war sites all over the island. Each site marks either a battle area, such as the invasion sites at Sarimbun beach, or commemorates a significant event during the Occupation, such as the Sook Ching massacre sites.
There are permanent plaques emplaced at 20 of the 50 sites. These plaques were installed by National Heritage Board to mark the significance of the sites in relation to the war. Fourteen of the plaques were unveiled in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war while the remaining six plaques were unveiled in February 2012 as part of a series of national events marking the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.
The information, while interesting, has been kept succinct. It is intended purely as an introductory guide highlighting significant war sites. We hope the brochure will be a useful guide as you explore these World War II sites on an island once feted as an “impregnable fortress”.