The cemetery is constructed on
a hill with the means of access being via three flights of steps, rising
over four metres from the road level.
Before 1939 the Kranji area was a military camp and at the time of the
Japanese invasion of Malaya, it was the site of a large ammunition
magazine. On 8 February 1942, the Japanese crossed the Johore Straits in
strength, landing at the mouth of the Kranji River within two miles of
the place where the war cemetery now stands. On the evening of 9
February, they launched an attack between the river and the causeway.
During the next few days fierce fighting ensued, in many cases hand to
hand, until their greatly superior numbers and air strength necessitated
After the fall of the island, the
Japanese established a prisoner of war camp at Kranji and eventually a
hospital was organised nearby at Woodlands. After the reoccupation of
Singapore, the small cemetery started by the prisoners at Kranji was
developed into a permanent war cemetery by the Army Graves Service when
it became evident that a larger cemetery at Changi could not remain
Changi had been the site of the main
prisoner of war camp in Singapore and a large hospital had been set up
there by the Australian Imperial Force. In 1946, the graves were moved
from Changi to Kranji, as were those from the Buona
Vista prisoner of war camp. Many
other graves from all parts of the island were transferred to Kranji
together with all Second World War graves from Saigon Military Cemetery
in French Indo-China (now Vietnam), another site where permanent
maintenance could not be assured. The Commission later brought in graves
of both World Wars from Bidadari
Christian Cemetery, Singapore,
where again permanent maintenance was not possible.
There are now 4,458 Commonwealth
casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated at
WAR CEMETERY. More than 850 of the
burials are unidentified. The Chinese Memorial in Plot 44 marks a
collective grave for 69 Chinese servicemen, all members of the
Commonwealth forces, who were killed by the Japanese during the
occupation in February 1942. First World War burials and commemorations
number 64, including special memorials to three casualties known to have
been buried in civil cemeteries in Saigon and Singapore, but whose
graves could not be located. Within Kranji War Cemetery stands the
SINGAPORE MEMORIAL, bearing the
names of over 24,000 casualties of the Commonwealth land and air forces
who have no known grave.
The land forces commemorated by the
memorial died during the campaigns in Malaya and Indonesia or in
subsequent captivity, many of them during the construction of the
Burma-Thailand railway, or at sea while being transported into
imprisonment elsewhere. The memorial also commemorates airmen who died
during operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and the
surrounding seas and oceans.
which stands at the western end of the Singapore Memorial, commemorates
more than 250 casualties who died in campaigns in Singapore and Malaya,
whose known graves in civil cemeteries could not be assured maintenance
and on religious grounds could not be moved to a war cemetery.
CREMATION MEMORIAL, which stands
immediately behind the Singapore Memorial, commemorates almost 800
casualties, mostly of the Indian forces, whose remains were cremated in
accordance with their religious beliefs.
CIVIL HOSPITAL GRAVE MEMORIAL
stands at the eastern end of the Singapore Memorial. During the last
hours of the Battle of Singapore, wounded civilians and servicemen taken
prisoner by the Japanese were brought to the hospital in their hundreds.
The number of fatalities was such that burial in the normal manner was
impossible. Before the war, an emergency water tank had been dug in the
grounds of the hospital and this was used as a grave for more than 400
civilians and Commonwealth servicemen.
After the war, it was decided that as
individual identification of the dead would be impossible, the grave
should be left undisturbed. The grave was suitably enclosed, consecrated
by the Bishop of Singapore, and a cross in memory of all of those buried
there was erected over it by the military authorities. The 107
Commonwealth casualties buried in the grave are commemorated on the
Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial. Kranji War Cemetery and the
Singapore Memorial were designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.
Adjoining Kranji War Cemetery is KRANJI
MILITARY CEMETERY, a substantial
non-world war site of 1,378 burials, created in 1975 when it was found
necessary to remove the graves of servicemen and their families from
Pasir Panjang and Ulu Pandan cemeteries.