In memory of “Cousin Jimmy Brown” who died aged 21. He was a member of the British army defending Singapore from the Japanese occupation during World War Two. My Grandfathers cousin, a man known to us only by name and old family photographs. His final resting place and date of death are unknown. But he is remembered on column 101 of the Singapore Memorial at Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
Kranji War Cemetery is not on most people’s to-do list when visiting Singapore. It’s somewhat out of the way towards the north of the island, and as such isn’t somewhere you happen to just stumble upon. But it’s a place of solemn beauty, and a reminder of the human cost of war here. Wars fought on this tiny island, over this tiny island. The island that we now call home.
The Kranji area of Singapore was used as a prisoner of war camp by the Japanese following the surrender of Singapore by the British on the 15th February 1942. Between the 8th February 1942 and 15th February 1942 was the Battle of Singapore, which ultimately Japan won. Following this tens of thousands of prisoners of war were taken by the Japanese.
In 1946, after the end of the second world war, Kranji was designated to become Singapore’s War Cemetery. The Singapore Memorial, where Jimmy’s name is inscribed, commemorates over 24,000 men. According the the Commonwealth War Graves Commission “Many of these have no known date of death and are accorded within our records the date or period from when they were known to be missing or captured. The land forces commemorated by the memorial died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in subsequent captivity, many of them during the construction of the Burma-Thailand railway, or at sea while being transported into imprisonment elsewhere.”
The last date given for Jimmy’s whereabouts is the 13th February 1942. There is no other information available regarding his death. We moved to Singapore last year without ever considering that we have a direct connection to this island’s history. It’s taken 75 years, but finally Jimmy, we came to find you. Your cousin Len’s granddaughter and great-grandchildren are in Singapore too now. And we live here freely and safely thanks to a sacrifice you made, aged 21, that we cannot truly comprehend.
Scroll down to see some images from our morning spent at Kranji War Cemetery and Singapore Memorial.
Visiting Kranji War Cemetery
We took a taxi, but it can be reached by public transport.
Address: 9, Woodlands Road, Singapore
MRT: Alight at Kranji station, and follow the signs to walk to the cemetery. The walk is approximately 600m and is uphill.
Bus: There are bus stops on the main road outside of the cemetery which can connect you to the city (22km’s away)
The cemetery is on a hillside with step access and grass underfoot. It is not suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs, scooters etc. There is a small amount of shade available at the entrance, and within the Singapore Memorial at the top of the hill. Otherwise it is very hot and (on a sunny day) in direct sunshine. Wear plenty of sun cream and bring plenty of water. However, there are no toilets or other facilities at the site.
The cemetery is open every day from 8am until 6.30pm.
It should go without saying, but this is a cemetery and memorial. Please behave respectfully at all times. Children should be very closely supervised.
There is a memorial register and visitors book available onsite. They can either be found within Singapore Memorial, or to your left as you pass through the entrance gates (looking towards the memorial).