The Singapore General Hospital War Memorial – A Tragedy Seventy Years Ago

There are several major war memorials in Singapore, located at Kranji, Bukit Batok, City Hall and the Esplanade Park. Not many are aware that there is actually a small war memorial at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), located along College Road and opposite the College of Medicine Building (present-day Ministry of Health). The SGH war memorial was set up in remembrance of the eleven medical students from the King Edward VII College of Medicine, who were brutally killed during the Second World War.

sgh in memoriam 2015

On 14 February 1942, a medical student Yoong Tatt Sin, also the general secretary of the Medical College Union, was killed while on duty when the Japanese invaders bombed Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Later that evening, his grieving friends and colleagues, a group of 25 medical students, brought his body to the General Hospital at Outram Road (present-day Singapore General Hospital) to give him a proper burial.

Five trenches facing the College of Medicine Building had been dug for air raid purposes. As there was little time in preparation, one of the trenches was converted to a grave for Yoong Tatt Sin. During the funeral procession, the Japanese arrived and began intensive shelling at the students. Ten students were killed; others were wounded while fleeing and taking cover at the nearby buildings and the trenches. One of the causalities was Hera Singh, a prominent sportsman, school prefect and the captain of the V.I. Cricket in the late 1930s.

sgh in memoriam4 2015

Singapore surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. The next morning, the eleven dead students were hastily buried at the trenches where most of them fell and died during the shelling, along with some other military casualties during the battles.

Between 1942 and 1945, the General Hospital was used as the main surgical hospital for the Japanese forces stationed at Southeast Asia. The College of Medical Building was converted into a department of bacteriology and serology used by the Japanese Army Medical Corps. In 1943, the Japanese established the Syonan Medical College (called Marei Ika Daigaku in Japanese) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which was later moved to Malacca until the end of the Second World War.

sgh in memoriam2 2015

sgh in memoriam3 2015

After the war, the British colonial government erected a memorial along College Road, made up of a red cross with a granite base, in remembrance of the British soldiers and civilians who had perished during the occupation. In 1948, Dr G. V. Allen, the principal of King Edward VI College of Medicine between 1939 and 1942, unveiled a war memorial plaque inscribed with the names of the eleven dead students (Yoong Tatt Sin, Mabel Luther, N.P. Sarathee, E. Baptist, H.E. Oorjithan, Ling Ding Ee, Hera Singh Bul, Chan Kok Loon, Chen Kok Kuang, Teoh Tiaw Teong and Abdul Hamid Bin Mohd Yusoff).

The plaque was first hung at the Harrower Hall. It was later relocated twice before settled at the College of Medicine Building, where it remains today.

sgh war memorial 2007

Published: 12 April 2015

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One Response to The Singapore General Hospital War Memorial – A Tragedy Seventy Years Ago

  1. 15th of February was the fall of Singapore 74 years ago

    It’s also Singapore’s Total Defence Day to commemorate the anniversary of the surrender of the British to the Japanese on February 15, 1942, precursoring 3 years and 6 months of Japanese Occupation… Total Defence Day also aims to educate the citizens the importance of national defence

    日据时期遭杀害 11医学生葬中央医院外

    15/02/2016

    74年前的情人节,也是英军投降前一天,我国11名医学生遭日军残忍杀害,如今纪念他们的牌匾静静挂在中央医院角落,两次搬家后,落户“限制区”。记者走访超过10名医护人员与公众,却发现没人听过这段历史。  

    每年2月15日是全面防卫日(Total Defence Day),纪念当时保卫我国的英军向日本投降,并向国人灌输捍卫国土的重要。

    1942年2月14日清晨,英军投降前一天,七州府医科大学的爱德华七世医学院(国大医学院前身)一名医学生值班时遇日军轰炸,弹壳穿肝而死。

    当晚10名同学扛尸安葬他,途中遭日本炮兵开炮,虽躲进战壕仍不幸被炸死。

    去年4月,博客RemSG介绍了这段鲜为人知的历史。

    记者根据线索,在学院路旁找到标示这批医学生埋葬地点的指示牌“In Memoriam”。

    至于刻上11名医学生名字的纪念牌匾,则是从二战结束后的1948年开始悬挂在医学院的Harrower Hall内。过后搬家两次,目前安置在医学院大厦(目前的卫生部大厦)里。

    中央医院博物馆馆长黄素文通过电邮受访时说:“纪念牌匾之所以默默无闻,可能是因为已搬家两次,不在原有位置,目前在卫生部办公楼的限制区。”

    记者走访中央医院,发现10多名受访医护人员和公众都完全不知道这段历史。

    在中央医院工作11年的佘女士(43岁,接待员)说,她也不清楚牌匾背后的故事,只知道牌匾的位置。

    “在医院工作十分忙碌,病患或家属也进进出出,没有人有时间停下脚步,去了解这样的一段历史。”

    历史背景

    1942年2月14日清晨,医学生杨达信(译音,Yoong Tatt Sin)在陈笃生医院值班,却遇到日军轰炸,弹壳穿肝脏而死。

    当天傍晚,他的25名医学系好友,悲愤扛尸到旧欧南路中央医院(目前的中央医院),想好好安葬他,却不幸遇上日本炮兵朝他们开炮,导致10人死亡。

    扛尸仪仗队之一的医学生阿都瓦哈布(Dato Paduka Abdul Wahab)忆述当年惨案,仍历历在目。

    在著作“Medical Student during the Japanese invasion of Singapore, 1941-1942”中,这名幸存者忆述:“当时虽危机四伏,但医学系学生仍值守岗位,为受伤人民服务。”

    他也说,他们当时躲进战壕,但无情炮弹不停抛了来,他目睹同学一个接一个受重伤而断气。

    包括杨达信在内的11名学生的尸体当天无法安葬,直到两天后,英军投降一天后,才在中央医院外安葬。

    黄素文说,在传统战争中,医院和医务人员是神圣不可侵犯的。但这群医学生遭无情袭击,加深了当时医学生的悲愤。 

    举行纪念仪式多年 无奈传统没延续

    医学生举行纪念仪式多年,但这传统已被遗忘。

    黄素文说,当时大学医学生有如凤毛麟角,他们来自周边邻国,都住校园宿舍,感情深厚。

    “10名同学在为同学举行葬礼时惨遭杀害,血气方刚的青年医学生必定悲愤不已。”

    黄馆长也引用魏雅聆医生在1960年演讲的话说:“战争年代没有足够的殡葬业者,为好好安葬往生的好友,他们亲力亲为,最后赔上性命。他们的牺牲体现当时医学生的精神。”

    因此,学校在1948年制作纪念牌匾,并悬挂在医学院内。当医学院大楼还是大学校园时,校方每年2月15日都为这群学生举行纪念仪式。

    但此传统没有延续至今,纪念牌匾也没在1984年搬到国大肯特岗新校舍。

    陈言森医生盼传承历史

    毕业32年的“开心医生”陈言森和在籍医学生受访时,都同意这段历史应传承下去。

    曾为2000多个病人动心脏手术的“开心医生”陈言森(鹰阁医药专科中心心脏血管、胸肺外科高级顾问医生)是1984年国大医学院毕业生,但他受询时表示完全没听过这段历史,得知后深感惋惜。

    “过了那么久,隔了几代人,我们现在已置身事外。前辈受的苦,我们无法感同身受。后辈看这段历史已麻木,只像看一则悲惨的故事。”

    虽然如此,他认为后代应记取历史教训,不让悲剧重演。

    就读国大医学院一年级的刘嘉敏(20岁)说,这还是她第一次听到这段历史。

    “他们的高尚行为,体现了当时医学生的精神,我感慨自己没有更早知道这段史实。”

    侧记:寂寞的牌匾

    寻寻觅觅了两天,我终于在冷清的小角落找到牌匾。

    到中央医院前,我做足功课,心中满是期待,想亲自看看牌匾,向11名医学生致敬。

    意外的是,无论公众、医护人员或柜台接待员,居然只有一个人知道牌匾的确切位置,但没人知道牌匾背后的故事。

    有人甚至说,牌匾是为了纪念二战牺牲的新西兰士兵……

    当时天气闷热,我心里却感到一阵凄凉。

    隔天,我再度寻觅。最后才在卫生部办公大楼发现,刻上11名医学生名字的牌匾正悬挂在门边的墙上。

    还来不及欢喜,身后就来了一名保安员。

    我问,能不能让我拍张照片。他说:“不能在政府大楼里乱拍照。”

    我追问保安大哥,知不知道牌匾背后的故事。他摇摇头,礼貌地请我离开。

    踏出大门前,我再看牌匾一眼,感受到它无比的寂寞。

    我黯然离开,但内心深切希望,更多人能知道这群医学生在二战牺牲的事迹。

    因为,这11人的故事,也是“我们的故事”。

    http://www.wanbao.com.sg/local/story20160215-75265#local

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