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Kranji War Memorial - Cover

Kranji War Memorial – Serene Cemetery You Can Visit To Pay Respects To SG Presidents & WW2 Heroes

Kranji War Memorial

For many of us, WW2 remains a collection of stories we’ve read within the pages of our textbooks during our schooling days. It’s tough to comprehend the stark reality of war when we haven’t experienced it firsthand.

However, by visiting some of these historical sites IRL, we can bridge that gap and gain a deeper understanding of the lives and experiences of those who lived through those tumultuous times. One such destination is the Kranji War Memorial.

A dedicated burial site

Kranji War Memorial - Wide Shot of Site
Image credit: Paul Welsh via Google Maps

Tucked away in the northern region of Singapore, the Kranji War Memorial is a solemn resting ground for soldiers who perished during WW2. 

Besides that, there is also a dedicated area for historical figures who played pivotal roles in Singapore’s early days to find their final resting place.

Kranji War Memorial - Rememberance Day
Image credit: Akira Miyazaki via Google Maps

In addition to serving as a burial site, a significant annual tradition is also held here. A memorial service takes place on the Sunday nearest to Remembrance Day every year which falls on 11th November. This gathering – graced by the presence of the British community, surviving veterans, and religious and grassroots leaders – stands as a heartfelt tribute to the heroes.

The ceremony is open to the public to attend but note that seats are limited.

Kranji War Cemetery

While we may have learnt that troops from all corners of the globe made their way into Singapore to join the battle of WW2, did you know that there’s a cemetery dedicated to these soldiers? 

In fact, over 4,400 fallen soldiers from countries like Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and New Zealand are buried at the Kranji War Cemetry.

Kranji War Memorial - Gravestones
The gravestones align in orderly rows along a gentle uphill slope.
Image credit: Patrick Ng via Google Maps

If you cast your gaze further uphill, you’ll spot a grand cross that stands tall. Fun fact: this cross was built strategically to watch over the fallen soldiers from the hilltop.

Kranji War Memorial - Cross
Image credit: @misslokey via Instagram

Positioned behind the cross stands the Singapore Memorial – a 24m-tall concrete monument with a star at its top.

Kranji War Memorial - Singapore Memorial
What’s cool about the structure is that it actually replicates the silhouette of a WW2 fighter plane.
Image credit: Brian Luck via Google Maps

You’ll encounter 12 walls adorned with the names of more than 24,000 Allied soldiers whose bodies were, unfortunately, missing. 

Kranji War Memorial - Walls with Names
Image credit: Marvin Alvarez via Google Maps

Singapore State Cemetery

Within the expansive compound, you will also discover additional cemeteries dedicated to individuals that are deemed to be a significant part of Singapore’s development.

Kranji War Memorial - Presidents GraveGrave of Encik Yusof Bin Ishak and Dr. Benjamin Henry Sheares.
Image adapted from: LY LAU & Howsy via Google Maps

Nearest to the entrance is the Singapore State Cemetery, encompassing just 2 graves as of now. Within this revered ground rest the mortal remains of Singapore’s inaugural presidents – Encik Yusof Bin Ishak and Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares.

Kranji Military Cemetery

Kranji War Memorial - Kranji Military Cemetery
Image credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Before the Downtown Line at Pasir Panjang and schools like Henry Park Primary School at Ulu Pandan emerged, these neighbourhoods were cemeteries.

As Singapore progressed and embraced urbanisation, a decision was made to relocate these hallowed sites to Kranj in 1975. Today, you’ll find 1,422 burials at Kranji Military Cemetery.

Visit Kranji War Memorial

Kranji War Memorial - Site
Image credit: Adam Lee via Google Maps

While the Kranji War Memorial may not be specifically designated as a hiking spot, it can serve as a meaningful pit stop along the Rail Corridor North trail. This serene site welcomes visitors who wish to pay their respects to the unsung heroes of the early days.

However, do maintain a respectful demeanour during your visit. Refrain from climbing or even resting on the structures, and avoid taking photographs of the graves. You are, however, encouraged to peruse the inscriptions on the walls and gravestones to gain insights into the individuals who passed such as their names and ages.

Getting there: To get to Kranji War Memorial, you can take buses 160, 178, 960 or 961 from Kranji MRT. The memorial is a 6-minute walk from the bus stop.

Admission: Free
Address: 9 Woodlands Road, Singapore 738656
Opening hours: 7am-6.30pm, Daily

For more WW2-related content:

Cover image adapted from: LY LAU & Paul Welsh via Google Maps