Friday, September 05, 2014

Aerial view of Bukit Brown in 1948 - Kheam Hock Village

In an article dated 1949, it was stated there are about 250 huts along Kheam Hock road. Fast forward to 2014, this village no longer exist except in people's memories and in the rare pictures you find either online on in the former residents private picture collection.

Kheam Hock Village

Chin Chung School, Jalan Berahi, off Kheam Hock 

source: Map of Singapore City, 1954. Survey Department of the Federation of Malaya

Battlefield Kheam Hock
Kheam Hock Village was the scene of an intense battle that took place in the final days before the fall of Singapore. Jon Cooper, a battlefield archaeologist involved in the Adam Park digs shared during his presentation and also during walks that was organised by him,  interesting insights about the battle that took place in the area of Bukit Brown. On February 14, 1941, the Japanese of the 11th Regiment, 3rd Battalion launched an assault in force supported by tanks on the defending British soldiers of 4th Suffolk positions across Adam and Lornie Road and finally Bukit Brown. The soldiers were slowly driven back from their positions and finally took up defensive positions along the western edge of the Bukit Brown cemetery. This hasty regroup, meant that a new line of positions had to be prepared in quick time amongst the tombstones of Bukit Brown cemtery. The reinforcement company congregated in the small kampong on the Kheam Hock Road. Among this reinforcing troops which included Indian soldiers of Royal Deccan Horse regiments,  was a sole Indian Pattern Vickers tank and two universal carriers of the late Major Jack Alford’s 100th Light Tank Squadron. While having lunch, the Japanese attacked again in numbers. A fierce battle ensued and the remaining survivors retreated further towards Mount Pleasant were another battle took place before the final surrender.

Reverend Cordingly was the Regimental Clergy who was tasked as Prisoner of War with leading burial parties across the battlefield in the days immediately after the surrender of the island. In his diary he recalled the carnage aftermath of that battle with many bodies lying sprawled across the road. It was from his diary and the completion of Burial Returns forms that Jon Cooper shared with us this story of many war dead which included British, Indian and Japanese soldiers. Some bodies of soldiers were not found but were just marked as co-ordinates based on their last fallen location.

Fast forward to 1955, where an article mentioned of bones being found off Kheam Hock. Was this the remains of one the missing soldiers ?
NewspaperSG (August 1955)
The end of Kheam Hock Village
Parts of Kheam Hock, and Lorong Halwa were affected as a result of the construction of the Pan Island Highway (PIE) in the 1960s-1970s.

In 1984, the government announced that the residents living along the biggest spread of cemeteries from Kheam Hock and Jalan Halwa will be cleared for development with notices send to them. It's residents were given 4 to 5 years to vacate pending new places for the residents to move to. Today, you can make out remnants of the village if you look hard enough.

Aerial photo of Bukit Brown (taken at exhibition) 

Kampong Conditions a Menance. (1949, April 26). The Straits Times
Bones in the lallang. (1955, August 27). The Straits Times
Advertisements. (1971, August 16). The Straits Times
Land with the biggest cemeteries to be cleared. (1984, June 4). Singapore Monitor
Missing: Fallen Soldiers. [website] All things Bukit Brown

Aerial view of Ong Sam Leong in 1948, posted on July 21, 2014
Aerial view of Bukit Brown in 1948-roundabout, posted on July 20, 2014

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