Commemorating the Battle of Pasir Panjang

This first appeared on my old blog on 4th October 2005:

The 14th February is a day of significance. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Pasir Panjang Ridge (now Kent Ridge) in 1942, during which 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 much details at the time. In 2002, I decided to setup a webpage about Kent Ridge, and in searching for sources, Idiscovered a thesis by an NUS history student, Dol Ramli, nestled all this while in NUS’ Central Library!

Dol Ramli Overall Malay Regiment Front, 12 -15 Feb 1942
Dol Ramli, 1965: “Overall Malay Regiment Front Feb 12th to 15th, 1942.”

Dol Ramli’s published his honours thesis as the History of the Malay Regiment 1933-1942 in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1965.

A very nicely written condensed version by Lim Kay Tong was lost when the site it was on was retired. Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I retrieved the article and hosted it on Habitatnews.

Today you can get an overview of the Battle of Singapore and Passer Panjang at the Reflections at Bukit Chandu, an interpretive centre opened 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.

This Saturday, 9th February 2013, is Chinese New Year’s eve. It was also the eve in 1942 when the battle ended on Pasr Panjang Ridge. We will commemorate the battle with a walk from the University Cultural Centre to the Reflections at Bukit Chandu.

Details at Habitatnews.