SINGAPORE, Sept 13 — An air raid siren blares away in the distance while a 25-pounder artillery weapon sits with the lingering smell of gunpowder and surrender leaflets strewn on the floor.
The National Museum of Singapore’s upcoming blockbuster exhibition, Witness to War: Remembering 1942, will attempt to provide visitors with an interactive and immersive experience 75 years after the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces.
Director of the National Museum of Singapore, Angelita Teo, said: “We have adopted a fresh approach — to look at the events that led to this watershed event, explore the shared memories of World War Two in the region, and hear from ordinary people who lived through those extraordinary times. This is the first time that the National Museum has collected war stories on such a large scale.”
The personal diary of Major-General Lim Bo Seng and its contents will be among the stories shared with the public for the first time. It has also been transcribed, in its entirety, to be read in an audio-visual kiosk while excerpts are narrated by a voice actor on screen.
Interviews with as well as personal artefacts from war survivors, including that of 82-year-old Ahmad Kassim who still lives in Pulau Ubin after fleeing from Japanese troops in Johor, and Major-General Lim’s two children, Madam Leow Oon Geok and Dr Lim Whye Geok, will be on show.
The exhibition will feature more than 130 artefacts from 10 overseas museums and institutions, including the Australian War Memorial and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. These include the samurai sword of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, a 17th-century relic on display outside the United States for the first time since the war ended in 1945, a Japanese Army bugle and an Enfield No. 2. Mk. 1 revolver.
A recent museum acquisition — one of the star artefacts on show — is a 25-pounder field gun, which is a standard field artillery weapon of the British and Commonwealth armies during WWII, and was designed to replace the 18-pounder and 4.5 howitzer that were used in the first world war. The weapon will be accompanied by a two-and-a-half minute light and sound installation that replicates the wartime atmosphere.
Held from Sept 23 to March 25 next year, there will be free guided tours conducted by museum volunteer guides available daily on a first-come, first-serve basis. — TODAY