The Battle Box is an underground military operations complex that was part of the Malaya command headquarters during World War II. It's located in Fort Canning park, which is up the hill from the fire station in my previous blog entry.
Some of the posters on the walls have been recreated from the era. This was one of my favourites.
The figures are all animatronic. The Battle Box has been recreated as it was the day Singapore surrendered to the Japanese. The switchboard operator was a very busy man. There is still chalk writing on the door of this room dating to the day the British left.
Leaning on the table is a figurine of General Percival, who commanded the Allied forces in Malaya at the time. The meeting depicted in this room is a discussion that leads up to the decision to surrender. An act Winston Churchill called "the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history." In the meeting shown here Percival suggests alternatives, including a counter attack and the officers on his staff convince him that it would be futile.
Our guide, Dias, seen here on the left, was 7 years old when Singapore fell to the Japanese. He remembers hiding under the stairs with his brother and sister for three weeks before the surrender. The allied forces had no air or naval support by this time and the Japanese could bomb Singapore almost at will. He believes Percival's decision to surrender when he did saved the lives of himself and his family. Of Winston Churchill and his comments Dias says "That fat cigar smoking prime minister should have come here to fight. Percival had no planes, he had no ships, he could not win." Over the next 3 years, before the liberation, Dias learned Japanese in school, where it was compulsory.
This Japanese surrender flag was taken by British troops at Fort Canning. It features a Japanese character ('YAMAKA') that relates to an ordnance unit. Some of the text on the flag includes:
- This flag was removed by J. Fell (Ginger) from Fort Canning Singapore on Sept 9th 1945
- Bob (Smiler) Jolley Liverpool [followed by a beer mug]
- J. Smith Newcastle
- Cpl. R.E.M. Murrow Sunderland
- Cpl. Hobson Good Old BFD Northern
There's also an Irish harp design in the top right corner.
If you ever find yourself with a few spare hours to kill in Singapore, The Battle Box is well worth a visit.
1 month ago