Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stopover @ Kranji Commonwealth War Cemetery (克兰芝阵亡战士公坟) aka Kranji War Memorial

Looking at the steaming hot sunlight that filtered through my car window, i knew this would not be a good time to explore Lim Chu Kang cemetery.

The area is too bloody big and i will be suffering from heat stroke in less than 30 minutes!

That's when i decided to drive along the quieter roads of Lim Chu Kang and bypass the boring expressways! As i took on the leisure ride, my mind drifted to a war cemetery in nearby Kranji.

Without any second thought, i spontaneously designated it as the finishing point.

Located on a gentle hill in the middle of nowhere, i have been talking of coming here for ages. It was listed as an attraction by Singapore Tourism Board and it's embarrassing not to have visited it as a true blue Singaporean!

Singapore's state cemetery is also located within this war memorial. However, only ex Presidents Yusuf Ishak and Benjamin Sheares are buried in the compound. Kind of funny that the remains of only two out of five past presidents were laid to rest here (4th president Wee Kim Wee had asked for his ashes to be placed at Mandai Columbarium like many ordinary citizens).

Managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this is a place of utter peacefulness. It was devoid of any human noises and i respectfully began my exploration as the one and only visitor.

A plaque fronted the cemetery's entrance. Old English is used and it should be obvious that it means the names of those who died in the world wars live forever.

One of the sheltered enclosures has this metal plate that i thought to be of pure decorative purpose.

Knowing me, my itchy hand had to touch and turn the 3D metal knob to reveal a secret compartment! Gosh, curiously is a really helpful behaviour for exploration! I am only glad i didn't find snakes inside.

As casted correctly on the metal plate, i found two cemetery and memorial registers and a visitor's book. They were not secured tightly and i can just imagine how many books have been lost and replaced continually.

Main compound - i was surprised to find no walkway nor pathway available to continue my journey. For that slight moment, i was even afraid to step on the manicured grass. If not for the wetness, i was actually considering the option of removing my shoes!

Many tombstones dotted the area - place strategically and neatly. Contrary to its name, this is not a pure war cemetery and the area is divided into plots for easy identification.

Silence is always associated with cemeteries and it was equally true when i was there except for the frequent chirps by birds. The other moving creature, besides myself, was this slow moving garden snail.

The Christian Cross is evident here but if you take a closer look, a sword like structure is stuck to it. There could be some symbolic meaning to it that i am unaware of. I am afraid i am no Dan Brown.

A bigger plaque fronted the main building that has no doors and nil windows. "They died for all free men" - a short sentence that speaks length for the war period.

The names of allied servicemen whose bodies were never found were engraved on the numerous walls of this main structure.

Just in case you innocently thought that there are only 2 or 3 walls, please find above the attached picture that shows half the memorial walls.

Located at the top of the hill, you get a pretty good view of its surrounding. This is definitely a great place to be if you want to have some peace and quiet. Or maybe to read a book. True Singapore Ghost Stories for example.

Johor Bahru is directly across. The skyline will look much better if not for the slightly hazy weather condition.

More tombstones at the back! At the end of this post, i shall post a picture of the cemetery's layout so that you can have a better idea of the number of tombstones there could be.

War in the olden days (note: not ancient wars) comprised of land soldiers (Army), seamen (Navy) and airforce personnel (Airforce). These three groups are actually represented in the design of this building. Could you guess where?

The wall columns stand for the army as soldiers march in columns; the flat roof supported by the columns stands for the wings of an airplane while the towering odd shape on top of the roof interestingly stands for the navy; periscope of a submarine!

Sacrifices made during the world wars have lesser of an impact on the generation after the 1950s. That's why such memorials must remain to serve as a reminder to the younger generation. Sadly, history is often deemed to be irrelevant for most of them.

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Location
9 Woodlands Road
(Nearest MRT Station; Kranji)

Opening Hours
8am to 6.30pm (Daily)

Additional Information
Please preserve the dignity and respect those men who perished in the wars. Kindly refrain (as noted from the picture above) from having a picnic, treasure hunt, picking flowers, making noises and dancing in the premises of this place.

The layout for the cemetery as downloaded from the website of Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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