Tracing footsteps of the brave

13 February 2017 | Community
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A plaque at NUS' Entrance D along Kent Ridge Road commemorates a visit by the Duchess and Duke of Kent, which led to the ridge being renamed from Pasir Panjang Ridge to Kent Ridge in 1954

NUS Toddycats, a volunteer group with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS, together with 86 participants, went on a five-hour walk on 12 February to commemorate the historic Battle of Pasir Panjang 75 years ago.

On 13 February 1942, the Malay Regiment, led by Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi, put up a fierce battle against the advancing Japanese force along Pasir Panjang. Despite being outnumbered, the small platoon of 42 men held their ground for nearly two days and ultimately, fought to their death. On 15 February 1942, Singapore fell into the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army and the occupation would last more than three years. The Battle of Pasir Panjang Walk is an annual event organised by NUS Toddycats to honour the bravery of the Malay Regiment, and to share stories about the geography, and social and natural history of the area.

The walk started off at the NUS University Cultural Centre at 7am, with participants waking up bright and early to join in a day of reflection and learning. The five-kilometre walk brought them across sections of the NUS campus that were built on part of the old battleground, including a 1930s military outpost in the forest, and the wooded areas along Kent Ridge — which was renamed from Pasir Panjang Ridge in 1954 — before ending at Reflections at Bukit Chandu, a World War II memorial museum.

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An outpost built in the 1930s, nestled in the forest within the NUS Kent Ridge campus

Participants were also joined by Malaysian friends from the Kelab Peminant Sejara Militer, a group of military history enthusiasts, who donned accurate reproduction of the Malay Regiment uniforms in memory of the men’s sacrifice, as well as friends from the Australian War Memorial.

Mr N Sivasothi, Senior Lecturer at NUS Biological Sciences and coordinator for NUS Toddycats, shared the origins of the annual walk. “When we began in 2001, the story of the Malay Regiment was not well known, so we gradually conducted a variety of walks three to four times a year. Now the story is taught in schools in Singapore, so we gather once a year to remember the sacrifice of the Malay Regiment.”

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Two military history enthusiasts from Malaysia dressed in accurate reproduction of the Malay Regiment uniform, at Reflections at Bukit Chandu