Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II

Japanese Surrender Singapore

The Singaporean military has two major events on their calendar. On 15 February, each year, the anniversary of the British surrender of Singapore to the Japanese is commemorated as Total Defence Day. The Japanese Occupation, which spanned three years and seven months, was a time of sadness and suffering for the people of Singapore. On Total Defence Day, schools and community organizations hold events to educate the public about the importance of defence and awareness on all fronts. The Singapore Civil Defence Force will sound sirens across the island at 6:20 p.m.

The Japanese Surrender, which signalled the conclusion of Japan’s occupation of Singapore, is one of the lesser-known events on this list. On September 12, 1945, General Seishiro Itagaki, representing the Imperial Japanese Forces, signed the Instrument of Surrender in the chamber of the Municipal Building (now City Hall), which had previously been known as the Military Chamber. This was the final significant surrender ceremony of World War II, which was attended by 400 people, including commanders and military personnel, Malayan community leaders, and the Sultan of Johore.

Singapore Surrender Signed in HMS Sussex. 4 SEPTEMBER 1945. Source (Imperial War Museums)
Japanese Surrender at Singapore, 12 September 1945. Source (Wikimedia Commons)
Japanese forces led by General Itakgaki Seishiro leaving Municipal Building, Singapore after signing the Instrument of Surrender before Lord Louis Mountbatten on 12 September 1945. Source (Archives Online)

The marines and sailors of the East Indies Fleet, as well as many members of the public, lined up along King’s Road to welcome Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, an Allied representative. Mountbatten would make a public address on the historic steps of the Municipal Building, just as he had during his coronation.

On 27 August 2015, a commemorative event was held at the former Surrender Chamber to commemorate the veterans and survivors of World War II, as well as to pay tribute to Singapore’s postwar nation-building efforts.

War veterans commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Source (The Straits Times)
War veterans commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Source (The Straits Times)

The chamber has been restored to its original condition, with important elements such as the chandeliers, hardwood flooring, and wood wall panelling having been preserved. The mezzanine viewing gallery has also been maintained. Following Singapore’s city designation by King George VI in 1951, the structure was renamed City Hall. It was designated as a national monument with the adjacent former Supreme Court building in 1992.

One need not go further than two historic national monuments (one of which houses the Surrender Chamber) to confirm Singapore’s progress through her post-war nation-building years. The National Art Gallery will reopen in the last quarter of 2015 as the National Gallery Singapore, a visual arts museum that aims to be one of Asia’s most significant art spaces.

Seven nations observe the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Singapore. Source (Tribune India)

The National Heritage Board sponsored a commemorative event in honour of Singapore’s liberators, who endured and contributed to the city’s restoration after the war. It should also serve as an incentive for Singaporeans to never take safety and national security for granted.

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