Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Ford Motor factory - Japanese Occupation 1942-1945.

    Though this is not directly related to Hillview nor Princess Elizabeth Estate, since both were created only after the surrender of the Japanese Army in 1945, the Ford Motor factory has featured prominently every time discussions about Hillview or Princess Elizabeth Estate arise.

Of course, we all are aware of the fact that the Ford Motor factory became infamous as the place where the unconditional surrender of Singapore took place on 15th February 1942.  GOC Lt-Gen Arthur Percival surrendered all Commonwealth forces in Singapore over to Lt-Gen Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army at the boardroom of the old Ford Motor factory.

The Ford Motor factory was completed and began operation in October 1941. This was just three months before the Japanese Army invaded Malaya. By 10th Feb 1942, the Japanese Army had already invaded Singapore and overran the Ford Factory in their quest to conquer Bukit Timah. It then became the field Headquarters for Lt-Gen Yamashita throughout the Battle of Singapore.

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, from 1942 to 1945, the former Ford Motor factory was handed over to Nissan Motor Company and converted for the building and maintenance of military trucks for use in the Japanese war effort. 

In 1944, the Japanese military government conducted a census of population and required all citizens to be registered. The Ford factory was the registration centre for people living in the rural Jurong, Upper Bukit Timah, Chua Chu Kang and Woodlands areas.

This photo was published by the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbum in a report of the census of 1944. It is also one of the earliest known photos of the building taken during the Occupation period.

The newly completed Ford Motor factory in 1941.
It was built on the western side of Bukit Batok hill.

A Japanese shrine, the Syonan Chureito, was built on the summit of Bukit Batok hill
to honour the war dead of the Japanese war campaign.

The famous picture of the Surrender taking place at the Ford Motors Board Room on 15 Feb 1942.
Lt-Gen Arthur Percival faces his nemesis, Lt-Gen Yamashita.

Group photo for posterity.
The victor and vanquished pose for a group photo after the surrender.

The Ford Motor factory was returned to the owners, the Ford Motor Company of Canada, in 1947.
Above photo is of the factory in 1958.