On February 15, 1942, the British surrendered to the Japanese. 6 days later, all male Chinese in Singapore were ordered to concentrate at five assembly points. Truckloads of them were sent to face the machine-firing squad.
My grandfather was lucky, he had a narrow escape. But he was feared by many in the Chinese community. Why was he so lucky? They suspected that he was working for the Japanese as a spy. Friends and neighbours avoided him like the plague. When my grandmother tried to buy food, nobody wanted to sell to her.
My grandparents had to move inland to escape the hostilities of their neighbours. They cleared land to build their own simple hut and to plant their own food. My grandfather couldn't work as a tailor any more. He farmed while my grandmother walked long distances daily, from house to house, to sell their produce.
When Japanese military police (kempeitai) turned to locals to provide information on those who were anti-Japanese, some Chinese men volunteered, in return for food or special treatments.
It created much fear and suspicion in the Chinese community. It set friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour, even family members and relatives against one another. The unscrupulous turned to blackmail while the vindictive had a chance to get even with foes.
The informants wore masks when they identified the suspects from the innocents. They didn't have to utter a word. They just needed to point a finger at one man and he would be severely tortured by the kempeitai before being executed. It was so ridiculous! A life was worth nothing then.
At the end, the spies didn't have a good ending. They were also sent in the backs of lorries to face the machine-firing squad. Some were beaten to death by their countrymen when the Japanese surrendered.
EastCoastLife n LG Contest
On which date was all Chinese males gathered, screened and later faced the machine-gun firing squad?
Relive the horrors of World War II at Memories at Old Ford Factory