Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and Its Legacies

Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and Its Legacies, Singapore

Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and Its Legacies

Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and Its Legacies
4.5
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Sunday
12:00 PM - 5:45 PM
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

4.5
175 reviews
Excellent
85
Very good
63
Average
21
Poor
3
Terrible
3

James Pole
Auckland, New Zealand144 contributions
I came here because I'm very interested in World War II history and I was not disappointed. The exhibition here is very thorough and well designed. They have kept the room where the surrender was signed in 1942 and furnished it with original/replicia furniture. There is lot of information about what life was like in Singapore before, during and after the surrender. I strongly recommend this attraction to people interetsed in World War II. It was easy to take the bus here with the bust stop just down the road from this attraction.
Written January 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

PietroMorrizio
Accra, Ghana696 contributions
Solo
Ever since I had seen the old newsreels as a young enthusiast of WWII history of General Percival signing the surrender of the Allied garrison of Singapore to General Yamashita on the 15th of February 1942, I had wanted to visit the location - the old Ford factory.

I had read a Singapore-published article about a decade ago showing the ruins of the old Ford factory, and was rather disappointed that nothing had been done to preserve the site. So several years later when I finally started travelling, I was very pleased to read that the old Ford factory had been refurbished & was now a military museum.

It's a little bit of a nuisance to get to - I was staying near Outram Park, so I took the MRT to the Butik Batok MRT station, and then took a taxi to the site. However, I suggest anyone doing this should take the exact street address along with them, as the driver seemed to not have heard of the museum before, and he had to jam on the brakes to make the driveway while I was calling it out.

I will point out that it's no Imperial War Museum - that is in it's own class - but to me, I was more fascinated by the fact that I was in the building where the greatest defeat in British military history was presided over. The room itself is a little office that most likely belonged to a manager or supervisor at the time. Although you can't enter the room, it is still fascinating when you reconcile it with that famous exchange between Percival & Yamashita. Unfortunately, the actual table the surrender was signed on is at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and although I had seen that before (as I lived in Canberra about a decade ago), I felt it probably should belong to Singaporean museum.

There is a number of storyboards of the battle of Malaya & Singapore on the way up the driveway to the factory, which are all interesting, even though I have read several books specifically on the battle. I recall that I picked a day where museum entrance was free (by chance), but there is usually a nominal fee to enter. I bought a book at the bookshop about the occupation of Singapore by the Japanese forces which was quite good, and reasonably well priced.

The remainder of the museum has some relics from the battle & the subsequent occupation, which are all very interesting. Many of the battle relics are ground-dug, including old weaponry & equipment. Much of the museum focuses on the Syonan years (Japanese occupation), and consists of a mixture of information boards with photographs & surviving artefacts from the occupation.

I have been to this exhibit, the Changi chapel & naval gun emplacement, Fort Siloso, and the Battlebox, and I felt that this was probably my favourite. Everyone seems to head to the Changi chapel, but I found this a little disappointing personally, as the original chapel is long gone, and the current one is a recreation, and I thought driving past the gates of Changi Prison to be more interesting (although you can't enter as the prison is still operational). I thoroughly recommend Fort Siloso, although I would make that part of a day spent on the lovely Sentosa Island. I also rated the Battlebox, and next time I go to Singapore, I want to try to locate a number of the surviving pillboxes that are on the island.
Written September 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

irenemHongKong
Hong Kong, China320 contributions
Couples
The Old Ford Motor Factory was built in 1941. It was Ford's first assembly plant in South East Asia. During the Malayan Campaign, the factory’s assembly equipment was used by the Royal Air Force to build fighter planes.

When the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1942, they set up their headquarters in this building.

After several days of continual bombing at the hands of the Japanese, a delegation of British soldiers marched from their bunker on Fort Canning Hill to the Old Ford Motor Factory to surrender to the Japanese.

Inside the factory, which is now a museum, you can see the actual room where Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival formally surrendered to General Yamashita Tomoyuki on the15th of February 1942.

The British surrendered because the Japanese had cut off their water and food supplies, they were running out of ammunition and their troops were poorly trained and badly equiped. The British did not realize that the Japanese were similarly low on food, water and ammunition.

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, referred to that event as the "worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history". This event marked the end of the British colonization of South East Asia.

Nowadays the Old Ford Motor Factory is a museum with lots of written displays about the war; artefacts from the war such as guns, air-raid sirens; the surrender room and lots of old photos.

There is also a theatre where you can watch a documentary about the war and a war-time garden behind the factory. I liked this as it showed the views of all the different ethnic groups in Singapore.

Entry to the museum costs $3.00.

To get there use MRT and bus as follows:

Bukit Batok MRT:
Board 173 at interchange and alight opposite Memories at bus stop B06

Choa Chu Kang MRT:
Board 67 at interchange and alight opposite Memories at bus stop B06

Clementi MRT:
Board 184 at bus stop B16 and alight at bus stop B09

Opening Hours:

Mondays to Saturdays: 9.00am – 5.30pm
Sundays: 12 noon to 5.30pm
Written November 7, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

baz8perth
Perth, Australia34 contributions
Going by public transport (MRT & bus) is a bit of a slog and barely worth the effort MRT to Clementi then 184 bus. The cost of going by taxi wouuld really make it a waste of time and money. There is a B09 bus stop in Clementi Rd which is still along way from the museum. The nearest stop in Bukit Timah Rd is B06. The displays are only reasonable and have no feeling of connection to the situation. For students of WWII the Battle Box and/or Sentosa give a more interesting insight into the events of 1942
Written May 23, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nikki K
Singapore, Singapore24 contributions
Solo
Positives
- newly renovated, I went on the first day it reopened.
- beautiful 1930s building and interesting to see the room when the Allied Forces surrendered
- elderly staff at reception were very helpful

Negatives
- Foreigners as they call us, have to pay for entry, even if you live in Singapore. Singaporeans have free entry. This sets the agenda and narrative for most of the museum.
- incredibly biased analysis of WWII. Casts Singapore as the victims to firstly the plundering British and secondly the brutal Japanese.
- talks about how the British swanned around Singapore in their cars in 1940s whilst the locals suffered. It doesn't talk about how the British grew Singapore into a prosperous trading port.
- no mention of all the money the British spent rebuilding the country after the war.
- the museum seems to be used as a promotional tool to say how wonderful Singapore is now that Singaporeans run it.
- in the room where General Percival signed the surrender document they display a white flag of surrender. This did not happen in real life, the flag was dropped in the drive way when the surrender party saw all the Photographers.
- details of how the invasion of the Japanese happened are factually incorrect.
- no facilities. If to want a refreshment there are two vending machines.
-No shop to buy any merchandise just a counter with a book.

Apart from the historical building in my view it's not worth the time trekking up to the site. The museum is full of Singaporean propaganda, with a very unbalanced and often incorrect narrative of what happened. You're better off going to the Battle Box museum to find out what really happened.
Written March 4, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melfun1
Melbourne, Australia216 contributions
Couples
Walked 2km in the heat to get there after asking 3 taxis for directions from the Bukit Timah shopping centre. They had no idea what it was, so we asked at the MRT. When we got to the old Ford Factory we discovered it was closed.
Written May 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SOH KIEN PENG
Singapore, Singapore6,369 contributions
Solo
This is my second visit to this exhibition gallery. The first time I came with a group of grassroots leaders on a `Singapore Journey' visit but this time I drove my 80-yr old mother to visit the gallery.

The Old Ford Factory was Ford Motor Company's first Southeast Asian car assembly plant and is situated along Upper Bukit Timah Road. It is today a prominent historical and architectural landmark in Singapore, most remembered as the site where the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. It is gazette as a national monument in 2006. Memories at Old Ford Factory now houses a permanent World War II exhibition gallery and archives repositories.

There was a flight of stairs to climb to reach the entrance of the gallery and my aged mother was too weak to climb the stairs. I approached an Indian security guard at the entrance and he lifted up the barricade pole and allowed me to drive and park at the door entrance. Such a kind, helpful and courteous security guard deserved a great word of thanks from me.

My mother was 7 yrs old during the Japanese occupation. As we walked through the galleries, she saw the `banana notes', the photographs of the massacre, the bronze statue of the General Yamashita, the tapioca, the sweet potatoes, they all raked up her bitter memories and sufferings of the past. She recalled young girls were taken away for sexual gratification by the Japanese soldiers and many were raped and killed. Like other girls in her village and despite her tender age, she had to rub charcoals on her face to make herself ugly and `unappetizing' for fear of ending up as the next victims.

Winston Churchill graded Singapore as the impenetrable fortress of the East but the whole impenetrable defense system failed and collapsed when the Japanese invaded Singapore. The British army surrendered Singapore to the Japanese within 8 days of battle. I have great pride and admiration for martyrs like Lim Bo Seng and the many courageous soldiers of the Force 136, the Malayan People's Anti -Japanese Army who fought bravely and to the extent of sacrificed their lives against the Japanese aggressors.

The Japanese forced the Chinese business community to donate 50 million to them and set up public lottery to further squeeze money out from the locals. Many survived on tapioca, sweet potatoes, pineapples. I wondered who still had that money to gamble and buy lottery.

The Boardroom of surrender in which Lt General Arthur E Percival of the British Force met Lt Gen Yamashita of the Japanese 25th Army was a humiliation and the historical lesson is that we cannot rely on others to decide the fate of our nation. We have to defend our own land and protect our own people. The British colonialists were only interested in plundering our resources to fatten their wealth. As a small nation, we rely on friendly diplomacy to fit into the balance of powers but building our own defense force is equally and critically important as in times of crisis, it is difficult to rely on others to protect us.

As we celebrate our 50th year of independence this year, it is of great significance to relook our past by visiting this gallery. My mother has sung 4 different national anthems during her lifetime: God Save the Queen, the Japanese national anthem, the Malaysia national anthem and Majullah Singapura (the Singapore national anthem. I personally have only sung one national anthem and I hope my children would continue to sing only one Singapore national anthem.

Our nation is just a little red dot but we have survived for the past 50 years under great leadership who brought us from 3rd world to First World. We cannot forget the great struggle and painstaking work of our pioneers. To survive for the next 50 years will very much depend on the foresight, the determination and perseverance of our next generation. We do not want or hope to see a repeat of what happened in 1942 and to sing a different national anthem that is not Singapore.

As I drove out of the gallery, I thanked the security guard for his kindness to permit me to park at the entrance of the gallery. He wished me `Happy National Day'. Yes, Happy National Day for Singapore!
Written August 8, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Richard P
Sydney, Australia8 contributions
Couples
A must to see in Singapore. See the room/furniture and conversation between Japanese and British general Percival at the signing of surrender of Singapore. Seen the bicycles the Japanese troops used, they got originals there. This factory is preserved with a museum and artifacts and original photos as it was. getting there, i got the MRT to Newton Circus, then Bus nos - 71 or 191 to the gate, coming back just cross the road and get the same bus back . [ cheap only couple of $ oh and walk around the building and see the original railway tracks still there.
Written February 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Usuff O
Thornleigh, Australia5 contributions
Couples
This place is a must if you are interested in history and the WWII experience of Singapore. Changi Museum focuses on the experience of the POWs whilst this museum, equally good if not better, focuses on the surrender of the British in 1941 and the POW plus civilian experience. It probably has more interactive and multimedia displays than Changi. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here.

Note :-
* talk at 2pm on Sundays (check website) by knowledgeable historian brings the exhibits alive.
* name of the museum is a bit misleading. When the Japanese took the British surrender in 1941, they designated the newly built Ford factory as where the surrender papers would be signed. So the title of the museum "Memories at Old Ford Factory" doesn't mean much unless you know the background. No, this museum has nothing to do with Ford cars, LOL.
* it's on the left as the taxi goes up the highway; lucky I spotted it before the taxi driver was about to turn right.
* easiest way is taxi there. (Give taxi exact road address when going, as name of museum may be meaningless to them.) Easiest way is taxi back. Ask at the desk for them to book you a taxi. They'll then give you a slip of paper with the taxi reg no. The taxi will show up in a few minutes. There's a booking fee of a few Singaporean dollars. Well worth spending rather than hailing a taxi from the road.
* the Museum is up the slope from the main road. Takes a minute to walk up.
* it has the exact room the British signed the surrender papers. One of the worst performance by a British general in British history - the Japanese were almost out of ammunition when they cajoled the British to surrender after their badly led campaign. (My partner's uncle who was an Australian soldier there said he was in the tent all the time, never fired a shot, then told to surrender.) The price that was paid in blood, misery, agony and death at the hands of the spiritually immature Japanese will always beggar the human imagination.
Written November 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Williamtell2014
Sydney, Australia11 contributions
Couples
Not many local know this one..oddly. Its where the Singapore Surrender took place and the old room has been preserved. Take a taxi!! its easier. The Curator is enthusiastic and knows so much. Spen 2 hrs. Take shots of youself where infamous photos of the surrender group marched up the driveway and entered into the front doors. see the film presentation and artifacts. They will give you a sheet on War history Walks while you are there. Cost S$3. Taxi about S$10-15. Well worth the effort.
Written August 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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