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.