Cenotaph (13)

In the middle of Esplanade Park is a 10 meter high granite block that, despite the huge skyscrapers nearby, does not go unnoticed. At its base you will find a text written in Singapore’s 4 languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil) that reads "they died for us to live."

You are facing the Cenotaph of Singapore, erected in memory of the 124 British soldiers born or living in Singapore who gave their lives in World War I from 1914 to 1918. The names of these national martyrs are etched on a metal plate buried beneath the first stone laid here on 15 November 1920 by Sir Lawrence Nunns Guillemard, Governor of the Southeast Asian British States or Straits Settlements.

The structure was designed by Denis Santry of the Swan and Maclaren company, known for building the Raffles Hotel. It is a military memorial that is more impressive for its emotional impact than for its sculptural beauty. The steps show the years of World War I and, crowning the structure, above 8 small columns, there is a sarcophagus with 4 bronze lions as handles, 2 per side, symbolizing the fallen. A little lower down, above the words "Our Glorious Dead," the Crown’s victory is represented by a crown surrounded by laurel leaves. The names of famous battles are written on the pylons on either side of the structure.

The monument was completed in 1922 and was officially inaugurated on 31 March of that year by Prince Edward of Wales, later the Duke of Windsor, and King Edward VIII while on a trip through Asia. At the ceremony, a chaplain blessed the Cenotaph and governor Guillemard himself awarded medals of valour to those who served in the war.

Travelling with Prince Edward was Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander of Southeast Asia, who, after the end of World War II, returned to Singapore to accept the Japanese surrender at City Hall on 12 September, 1945.

After the Japanese occupation, The Cenotaph also became a memorial to the fallen of World War II from 1941 to 1945, but this time no more names were added.

One last tip: as well as taking pictures of the details back up and take a nice photo of the cenotaph with the Great Durian in the background. A particularly good time for this is at sunset, when the buildings start to light up.

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