PICTURES

Over 1,000 attend war memorial service for civilian victims of Japanese Occupation

Mr Teo Hong Mong, 73, and his 40-year-old son Mr Teo Yu Ming (left) look at the flowers they brought to pay their respects to the senior Teo's father. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mr Teo Hong Mong, 73, and his 40-year-old son Mr Teo Yu Ming (left) look at the flowers they brought to pay their respects to the senior Teo's father. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mr Yap Boon Pin burn incense papers in front of the Civilian War Memorial together with his aunt Madam Yap Soh Kek as they pay respects to Madam Yap's father. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mr Yap Boon Pin burn incense papers in front of the Civilian War Memorial together with his aunt Madam Yap Soh Kek as they pay respects to Madam Yap's father. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Guest-of-honour Mr Lawrence Wong and other guests watch as representatives from the National Cadet Corps prepare to lay the wreath and lay their respects.  -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Guest-of-honour Mr Lawrence Wong and other guests watch as representatives from the National Cadet Corps prepare to lay the wreath and lay their respects.  -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
An emotional Mr Loh Weng Kee (extreme left), 73, breaks down while paying respects to his father at the Civilian War Memorial. He was a month old when his father was taken away by the Japanese. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
An emotional Mr Loh Weng Kee (extreme left), 73, breaks down while paying respects to his father at the Civilian War Memorial. He was a month old when his father was taken away by the Japanese. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014.
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Members of the public, students and families of victims take photographs during the wreath laying ceremony during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Be
Members of the public, students and families of victims take photographs during the wreath laying ceremony during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014.
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014.
Families of the victims pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial during the 47th War Memorial Service in commemoration of the civilian victims of the Japanese Occupation held at the War Memorial Park along Beach Road on Feb 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Representatives from various religious organisations lay the wreath and pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Representatives from various religious organisations lay the wreath and pay their respects in front of the Civilian War Memorial. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Mr Teo Hong Mong lost his father when he was just one year old. His father, then a 26-year-old volunteer fighter with Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, was rounded up by the Japanese soldiers, driven off on a lorry and brought to Changi to be shot.

"I grew up not knowing my father and not experiencing the love of a father," wrote Mr Teo, 73, on a wreath he placed near the memorial column. "I pray that such cruelty and slaughter of civilian victims will never happen again," said the former engineer, who also handed over his dad's certificate of commendation for serving the country during the Japanese Occupation to a war historian at the service.

Mr Teo was among the more than 1,000 people who attended the 47th War Memorial Service, organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday morning, to remember civilian victims who died during the Japanese Occupation. Held at the War Memorial Park in Beach Road, representatives - including those from schools and religious organisations - took turns to lay wreaths at the foot of the 67m high war memorial. Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong was the guest-of-honour at the service.

Singapore fell to the Japanese on Feb 15, 1942. Built 25 years later, the memorial has four vertical pillars symbolising the shared war experiences of the four races here. Underneath the structure lay the remains of unknown war victims. The Japanese occupied Singapore for more than three years before surrendering to the Allied forces and returning Singapore to British control in 1945.

On Saturday, which is also Total Defence Day, the ceremony began when the Singapore Civil Defence Force sounded the "all clear" signal from the Public Warning System. The signal is used in an emergency to inform the public that danger is over and life can return to normal. Participants then said prayers, observed a minute of silence, and paid their respects to the dead at the memorial.

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