Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Commemorating the Battle of Pasir Panjang

The 14th February has a special significance. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Pasir Panjang Ridge (now Kent Ridge) n 1942, during which the the Malay Regiment was all but wiped out by invading forces during their last stand at Opium Hill. Six British officers, seven Malay officers and 146 other ranks were killed in battle. Singapore would fall a day later on 15th February 1942.

General Arthur Percival (GOC Malaya) had this to say about the Regiment, "...by their stubborn defence of the Pasir Panjang ridge at the height of the Battle of Singapore, they set an example of steadfastness and endurance which will become a great tradition in the Regiment and inspiration for future generations".

In 1987, I first visited Kent Ridge with a botany class. I would revisit the place many times over the years to study the ecosystem, the plants, bats, other wildlife, or take a short cut to Central Library or enjoy the view from my room on the 7th floor of KE VII Hall's E block.

The battle was a story I had heard vague references to in the 90's. No one knew details it seems, but I finally discovered an account when searching for more information for a webpage I decided to setup in 2002, some 15 years after my first visit there. The source lay no further than NUS' Central Library at the other end of the ridge. Dol Ramli's published his history thesis in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1965. A condensed version by Lim Kay Tong is available onine.

Today you can get an overview of teh Battle of Singapore and Pasir Panjang at Reflections at Bukit Chandu, a museum which was opened two years ago on 15th February 2002. Located at then end of Pepys Road, off Pasir Panjang, it is a short walk from Kent Ridge Park via a walkway which allows you a close look at the surroundings and the Tiup-tip plant, Adinandra dumosa, the characteristic plant of the ridge's secondary forest.

Last Saturday, 14th February 2004, we commemorated the Battle once again with a walk from Raffles Museum to Reflections at Bukit Chandu.

First posted at Otterman speaks, 04 Oct 2005.