PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Graphic description depicting violence in this cache page may not be suitable for susceptible cachers who may be unduly affected! If you are so affected, do not read on. Thank you and please enjoy! RATING: PG-13.
18 February 1942
Ah Long felt uneasy as he tossed in his bunk. He had been unable to sleep much since the British surrendered their fates to the Japanese Imperial Army. Within a short time the Japanese had taken over much of the security and administration functions. But no one felt any easier. Just four days ago before the British surrender, the Japanese had massacred 200 staff and patients at the Alexandra Hospital.
Shortly after the surrender, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya" gave an address over the radio. It was an undisguised threat - that all elements of opposition to the Japanese would be severely dealt with. He was careful to emphasize severely .
The Chinese community in Singapore had been active in raising cash through the China Relief Fund for the war effort in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War in China.
When asked to lay down their lives to fight the invaders, it was surprising that 3,000 volunteers, mostly Chinese, had paid no heed to their own interest when making a conscious decision to join the Dalforce in trying to repel the Japs. Surprising because since most were migrants, nobody thought that they would find Nationalism in their souls. The pride that this is their new homeland. The determination not to cede any inch of the soil to the invaders. Their bravery was commendable and even the Japs acknowledged that. But alas it was too little too late. Nobody could believe that the British could lose to an outnumbered invading force! It was the biggest capitulation in the history of the Brits. Their worst defeat!
Ah Long stood and walked to the window. The silence was suddenly broken by rumbling sounds of a convoy of trucks and a tank coming to a stop on the street outside the building. The walls and windows shook with the vibration. It was still dark but Ah Long could just make out the soldiers setting up some makeshift office on the streets bounded by barbed wire fencing. A long table and some chairs were put up. He took a closer look, they were not all regular army men. Some were ranking Japanese Secret Police officers - the dreaded Kempeitai. They seemed to be shouting the orders. He counted the number of vehicles. There were around 15 trucks in all. He felt his heart pounding.
The stray dogs were barking loudly, rousing the other occupants from their fitful sleep. Nobody said anything and everyone’s heart beat with the same rhythm of trepidation and fear. The cool morning atmosphere was suddenly turned into one of deep terror. It was something that they had never experienced before. An ominous feeling that something bad was about to happen. Some of the womenfolk were sobbing. They had heard of rapes and forced prostitution.
Within half an hour, the Kempeitai had pounded loudly on every door of every household with the butt of their rifles, shouting, “Kurah Mareh, Nanti Tempak”. It was heavily accented and badly pronounced Malay for “Come Out Now or We’ll Shoot!”. Then one officer who looked like a local Chinese but smartly dressed in the Japanese Kempeitai Officer uniform shouted in Hokkien for everyone to cooperate or risk being shot. The accent was uncommonly heard in town but Ah Long and Ah Wang recognized it at once - it was TAIWANESE!
Terror was in every heart, terror beyond anything that can be expressed in words.
The women and children were ordered to stay within while the men were to assemble in the barbed fencing area immediately. Ah Long and Ah Wang dared not make any noise. Hui had a shuffling gait and he was brutally gun butted in the head and the back. Everyone had to squat in one side of the barbed fence compound. All in all maybe five or six hundred of them.
No one paid heed to their own hunger and thirst. A makeshift inspection booth was quickly erected. They were to stay squatted for six hours or so. Sometime afternoon, three men whose faces were covered with black hooded masks stood in the booth beside two Kempeitai officers. Were they locals? Ah Long thought one of them looked oddly familiar but could not place where he had seen him before.
The order was given for everyone to form a line to pass into the inspection booth one by one. Whenever any one of the hooded man nodded, the unfortunate man would be taken to a corner. Ah Long counted - the odds are one out of every eight or nine! The ones who passed the screening were given a stamp of approval - “QIAN character” on their sleeves.
Soon it was Ah Long’s turn. He had prepared himself mentally not to be afraid. But fortune was not on his side. The man he thought was familiar nodded! Ah Long could not even protest. One of the armed officers pushed him into the corner of the compound with the others. Ah Wang was similarly singled out!
As evening approached, the corner was crowded. No one was given any food or water. None of them were Malay or Indian. The were watching outside the fenced compound. Surely they too had felt terror in their hearts!
What crime had he committed? He had not joined the Volunteer Force. He had not taken part in the Fund Raising Activities for the China Relief Fund. What could he have done to deserve this?
Shortly after the screening finished, the military trucks started and everyone was ordered into the trucks. Someone tried to run and one of the soldiers bayoneted him in the back! Everyone felt as if a death sentence had been passed. Some prayed, some sobbed, some wetted.
The journey took about 45 minutes. They had hoped that the ride would last forever but the destination was reached shortly. A swampy beach in the remote north. All 15 trucks were emptied. Everyone was bounded by the wrist one to another and lined along the muddy seafront.
Ah Long prepared in his heart to meet his end. Too many things undone. Too many regrets. But his life had been hard and his ill mother in Swatow had already passed on. There was no one meaningful in his life. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing much anyway. Strangely, he felt at peace.
The order was given to walk slowly towards the sea. Solemnly they walked, their wrist bound one to another as if their fates too were similarly bound - one to another. When they were about waist level deep, the machine guns fired. Almost simultaneously everyone fell. In that instant, Ah Long sought for release. But nothing could have prepared him for what was to come.
Ah Wang, beside him was shot in the head and chest and died instantly. He thought that he had a look of peace. Hui on his left had sobbed quietly and his cheeks had tear stains from incessant tears all through the day. He too had a quick end, blood spurting out from the carotid in his neck where he was hit. He gurgled a few times and expired.
Two bullets hit him behind the left knee and he felt the tendons snapped and the patella popped. The force of the bullets and the momentum of Ah Wang and Hui’s forward fall pulled him into the water face down. But he was not dead yet! He did not want to die this way. No, not by drowning! Miraculously he fell on top of a rock and Ah Wang somehow fell on top of him diagonally. His head was still above water - just so. He did not move. He dared not breathe. It was dark and he tried desperately to keep his nostrils above the water. He heard sloshing of water. Some of the soldiers with bayonets were making sure no one survived. Ah Wang and Hui were bayoneted but miraculously the blades missed him!
The pain in his knee was searing and he was losing blood. He did not know whether he was happy or sad to be still breathing. After a few hours he only heard the waves and the dark skies seemed so dark. He felt cold … he felt nothing. As the seconds passed, he closed his eyes. He thought of his life and tears streamed down his cheeks……..as the night grew colder and darker.
This is a 2 waypoint cache.
The first waypoint is a STONE MARKER for this historic place (which is now at an INACCESSIBLE location - no matter, I have uploaded a picture of the stone marker - please see the uploaded picture at the end of the cache description just before the cache logs) and can be derived from the following formula. The unknowns can be acquired when you do "Metrohomme's The Story of A Migrant" (GC1GRJF):
N01 (UV-YW) . (T-Y) (X+Q) (U)
E103 (R*T) + Z . (U) (Y) (S)
At WP1 count the number of lines of the English text after the title (which is 8 - since the marker is not accessible anymore - if you see that it has been put up again at another site, please do let me know - thanks!).
O=number of lines of English text after the title (which is 8)
The following formula is for the final waypoint (WP2) where the cache box is located:
N01 (Y-V)(W+Z) . (T-Y) (X) (O-Y-5)
E103 (R*T) + Z . (S-Z) (Z+Q-1) (V+3)
At the Unveiling of the Civilian War Monument
15 February 1967, the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.
"We meet not to rekindle old fires of hatred, nor to seek settlements for blood debts. We meet to remember the men and women who were the hapless victims of one of the fires of history. This monument will remind those of us who were here 25 years ago, of what can happen to people caught completely unaware and unprepared for what was in store for them. It will help our children understand and remember, what we have told them of this lesson we paid so bitterly to learn".
- Lee Kuan Yew
“We have to tell the Singapore story …. Parents and grandparents have a role to play. You have to tell the stories to your children, to your grandchildren to know not only what happened but how you feel about it.”
- PM Lee Hsien Loong at 2006 National Day Rally.
This is a continuation of our edu-caching series on one chapter of the Singapore story. The Sook Ching events are all very well documented and there are plenty of resources to read on this subject. The Singapore National Heritage Board has identified at least 3 sites in Singapore in commemeration of the Sook Ching events.
This cache is about Rememberance. We wish for everyone including our Japanese friends to be inquisitive about these things and about the past history. A famous historian once said that if we do not know history, we are bound to repeat it.
Peace and goodwill to all mankind!
Orangefizzy and Buntoro