Kranji War Memorial & Cemetery - Singapore

Unlike most places in Singapore, Kranji War Memorial strikes a somber note, reminding us of thousands of brave men who died in World War II. Designed by Colin St Clair Oakes, this memorial has over 24,000 names inscribed on it. The bodies of these Allied servicemen were never found. Looking at the twelve columns of the Kranji War Memorial, you can see that they came from different countries like Australia, Canada, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Encompassing the War Memorial is the Kranji War Cemetery, where over 4,400 brave men at least had the fortune of having a proper burial. There is an Anzac dawn service here on Anzac Day, observed on 25th April of every year for Australians and New Zealanders. Also important is the Remembrance Sunday or Veteran's day observed on the Sunday closest to 11th November. Patriotic Singaporeans and relatives of the dead pay tribute to the dead soldiers by observing silence here.
Kranji War Memorial & Cemetery is visited by thousands who have lost their loved ones in War
Address: 9 Woodlands Road, Singapore 738656

For Casualty Inquiries:
Address: The Common Wealth War Graves Commission,
               2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead
               Berkshire, SL6 7DX
Phone: +44 (0) 1628 507200
Fax:     +44 (0) 1628 771208

Opening Hours: 7 A.M to 6 P.M everyday

Entrance Fee: Free

Wheel Chair Accessibility: No

Car Parking: Available

History: On 8th December 1941, Japan made surprise air attacks on Singapore. In the next few weeks, there were sporadic aerial attacks targeting military airfields and the British naval base at Sembawang, Keppel and Tanjong Pagar dock areas. In January 1942, Lt. Gen. Percival, leader of the Allied Forces completed a defense plan. According to the plan, Singapore was divided into 3 broad fighting sectors: southern, northern and western - with a central area for controlling supplies of food, ammunition and fuel.

On 30th January 1942, British retreated across the Johor-Singapore causeway into Singapore. The next day, the causeway was destroyed and the Battle of Singapore began. On 7th February, the Japanese captured Pulau Ubin, an island off Changi. The first invasion was designed to divert attention away from the northwest coast where the main invasion took place. On 9th February, the Japanese captured Ama Keng Village and Tengah airfield, forcing the Allied Air Force to evacuate to Sumatra. The Japanese dominated the skies and their troops were able to land around Kranji, against the Australian positions.
Map of Kranji War Memorial & Cemetery
On 10th February, the Japanese occupied the Kranji area and the Woodlands high ground which overlooked the causeway and was key to the northern defenses. Kranji-Jurong line, a narrow ridge serving as last natural defense line guarding northwestern approaches to Singapore city was taken over by Japanese. On 11th February, Bukit Timah village was captured, forcing the Australian and Indian troops to be pushed back. British abandoned the headquarters at Sime road and retreated into an underground bunker at Fort Canning. British naval base was also abandoned.

On 12th February,  British forces selected the final defense perimeter encompassing areas in the central and southern region of Singapore. The Japanese pressed towards Singapore city on four fronts despite suffering heavy casualties. The next day, Japanese Commander Lt. Gen. Yamashita moved his headquarters to Ford factory near Bukit Timah. The Opium Hill (Bukit Chandu) was fiercely defended by Malays in an epic 48 hour battle while all the other defense lines collapsed.  On 14th February, the Japanese captured the Alexandra hospital and massacred patients and medical personnel. On 15th February, the British officially surrendered to the Japanese at the Ford factory resulting in 130,000 Allied prisoners of war.
The register at the entrance is used by visitors for commemorating the brave men and women
Japan's occupation of Singapore lasted three and a half years. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally on 15th August 1945. Singapore was surrendered to the British Military Administration on 12th September 1945. At this time, the British saw that there was small cemetery at Kranji, started by the Allied POWs. This small cemetery was expanded and named the Kranji War Cemetery by the Army Graves Service. Many graves were also moved from Changi, Buona Vista, Saigon Military Cemetery (Vietnam) to Kranji in 1946. The cemetery now holds 4,461 graves of which 850 burials are unidentified. The Kranji War Memorial with 12 walls was built in the center to commemorate 24,346 Commonwealth casualties whose graves do not exist, or are unknown.
Kranji War Memorial has 12 walls with more than 24,000 names inscribed on it.
Kranji War Memorial: Sometimes known as the Singapore Memorial, is designed to commemorate the Army, Air force and the Navy of the Allied forces. The 12 columns represent the marching columns of the Army, the wing shaped ceiling represents the Air Force and the sail shaped structure on top represents the Navy. The twelve walls of the Memorial has inscriptions on both sides, with a total of 24,346 names of brave men. Unfortunately, these men lay buried elsewhere in Malaya, and the whereabouts are not known till date. A memorial register is found at the center of the memorial.
Kranji War Cemetery has over 4400 burials and is spread around the Memorial
Kranji War Cemetery: Unlike the War Memorial, this cemetery is the place of proper burial for the bodies of Allied soldiers. There are 4,461 casualties from World War II buried here out of which 900 are unidentified. This cemetery is divided into many different plots all around the Kranji War Memorial. This cemetery is also home to 64 First World War soldiers. The entire site should be properly addressed as "Kranji War Cemetery", but is locally known (erroneously) as "Kranji Memorial". You should use the term "Kranji Memorial" with taxi drivers in order to avoid confusion.
The Cremation Memorial is dedicated to Indian soldiers whose mortal remains were committed to fire
Singapore Cremation Memorial: This is found directly behind the Kranji War Memorial. This memorial is dedicated to 800 (pre-independence) Indian soldiers who died during World War II. They were cremated according to their religious beliefs and were predominantly Tamils from the Madras regiment, Sikhs from the Punjab regiment and Rajputs from the Rajput regiment.

Singapore Unmaintainable Graves Memorial: This is found on the right side of the War Memorial. It was constructed to remember more than 250 soldiers who were killed in action in the Malaya region. These known graves found in and around Malaysia could not be well maintained, and were not allowed to move due to religious reasons.
The Hospital Memorial was erected to remember the soldiers and civilians who died in the hospital at Kranji 
Singapore Hospital Grave Memorial: This is found on the left side of the War Memorial. When the Japanese finally withdrew in 1945, there were thousands of wounded soldiers and civilians all over Singapore. They were brought to the hospital and many had critical injuries. Over 400 of them died in the hospital in a matter of days. Unable to handle such large number of dead bodies, the hospital authorities were forced to bury the corpses in a mass grave. A large cross is built on top of this grave to commemorate these casualties of war.

The Chinese Memorial commemorates the Chinese soldiers who fought against the Japanese in Singapore 
Chinese Memorial: Located to the right side of the Memorial and situated in the plot 44 is the Chinese Memorial. It is a mass grave containing 69 Chinese soldiers who died in action during World War II. These brave servicemen worked along with the Commonwealth forces to defend Singapore against the Japanese Imperial Guards.

British Garden: Adjoining the Chinese Memorial is the British Garden. You can find marked graves of British servicemen who died in action. The British played a key role in defending and developing Singapore until their eventual exit from the Malay region.
The Gurkha Garden is dedicated to the Gurkha soldiers who gave their lives to defend Singapore
Gurkha Garden: Located at the very end of the area towards the right is the Gurkha Garden. Known for their fearless military prowess, the Gurkhas are predominantly found in Nepal and India. This garden has marked graves of these fearless men who gave their lives during the war.
The Kranji Military Cemetery is used for burying the Non World War dead
Kranji Military Cemetery: This is located on the extreme right side of the site. This is a cemetery for military personnel who did not die during World War II. There are 13 different plots which contain 1422 burials. It was created in 1975 and contains graves of servicemen and their families.

Kranji War Cemetery and Memorial is a must visit if you are a patriotic Singaporean, history buff or if you lost your loved ones in war. Australian and British people, most of them relatives of the dead soldiers visit this place to pay their respects. While Arab street and Night Safari are definitely the most fun places in Singapore, Kranji War Memorial will touch your heart and bring tears to your eyes. It will always be a place to remember the bravery and dedication of the men and women who lost their lives during the biggest war ever.


I was at the Cemetery in June & was speaking to one of the guides there (laughingly called herself the Dragon Lady) about the history of the near-by hospital. From a book by Charles Huxtable-From The Somme to Singapore- who was a medical officer there during the Japanese occupation, there is a couple of pages in ref to this subject (page 156 & 161). It was called Woodlands Kranji Camp & was used for sick Indian POW's, at the 13& half mile stone on the Main Bukit Timah Rd. He mentions the hill beside the camp where the cemetery is situated. Interesting read, please pass on to the relative person if its of any interest, Ian Muckersie

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