2016 Jon Cooper

Digging at your Doorstep: a Talk by battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper

On 25 January we had the privilege of listening to battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper talk about the World War II battles that took place in the Adam Park and Braddell areas. Mr Cooper, an Englishman, had moved to Singapore in 2009. He observed that many of our war-related tourism sites focused on buildings and structures, and not on areas where fighting actually took place. Hence, he made it his goal to uncover Singapore’s former battlefields and tell their stories.

During his spirited and engaging talk, Mr Cooper described how the Adam Park area is an utterly remarkable archaeological site; some of the most violent WWII battles had taken place there, and after the Japanese claimed Singapore they used the black and white houses—which are still standing today—as a POW camp. These POWs were tasked with building a magnificent Shinto shrine at MacRitchie Reservoir for the Japanese soldiers who had lost their lives in the war.

Most amazingly, some of the most decisive battles were fought in Thomson Village and in the area surrounding our school; the Japanese forces had sought to capture MacRitchie Reservoir as they were running out of water. British troops were stationed on land that is now occupied by the Bishan Library, our school’s swimming pool, Marshall Block, and even Golden Pagoda Hill, which was cleared just two months ago as part of the North-South highway construction project. Fortunately, Mr Cooper and his team managed to explore Golden Pagoda Hill before it was levelled; they found holes that may have been used as trenches during the war.

Even though Golden Pagoda Hill is no longer with us, Mr Cooper pointed out that artefacts and physical remnants of the past can still be found on Hill 105 at MacRitchie. The Japanese may have bombed the Shinto shrine to prevent it from being desecrated, but its ruins still remain.

Find out more on the Adam Park Project Facebook page

Tagged Topics

#History #school happenings #Stories

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