Book Of Adventure 3: Punggol World War II Site

Posted: March 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Captain’s log                            Stardate: 63723.2 (Mar 21st, 2010)

Upon seeing photos of the place been posted by a friend of mine through his Facebook, I became equally interested into it, and began my research right away. What I thought long ago was only a beach, is actually more than just that. Punggol Beach is ultimately one of the three massacre sites that the Japanese troops had done their killings when they occupied the land in Feb 1942. The other two sites were Changi and Sentosa. Seems like I’m a little lacked behind when comes to history. But its never too late to start learning them.

Through extensive research, I came to understand that Punggol (also spelled as Ponggol), which is located on the northeastern part of the island was once a kampong, and was located within the vicinity of the Punggol Jetty. It was believed to have existed 200 years ago, even before Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on the island.

My research =D

In Malay, “Punggol” means hurtling sticks at the branches of fruit trees to bring the fruits down to the ground. Also depict to a place where fruits and forests produce are offered for wholesale. Not bad for first starters if they wanna opened up their first official business. Hee…..=D

Back in those days, the Punggol area used to be a well-established rural district that were dotted with rows of farm houses and structures. All were serviced by roads and dirt tracks. Most of the Chinese villagers were engaged in poultry, pig or fish farming. That includes plantation and farm produce. It was stated, that the last pig farm had closed down in 1990.

The beach itself, which is known to be divided into the white sandy part for picnic-goers and the rocky part for fishers, also brings back horrifying memories when Singapore was under the Japanese Occupation during WWII in 1942. Like the beaches of Changi and Sentosa, Punggol is one of the three unfortunate sites where young Chinese men were massacred during the brutal Sook Ching Massacre. About 400 Chinese civilians were massacred at this point. Also, majority of these civilians were seen to have bore a tattoo on them, where the Japanese had suspected that they belong to a triad group that might have been trained to hunt down against the Japanese. Today, the location has been marked as a National Heritage Site.

Also, a seaside hotel was known to have been constructed at the end of Punggol Track 24, and it was prior to the Japanese invasion. It was suspected to have been the site where Japanese spies whom had disguised themselves as fish dealers had gathered. After the war, the hotel was been demolished. Surprisingly, pieces of Qing pottery and opium shards seem to indicate that the Japanese had been involved in both trade of rare Chinese goods and opium smuggling. That must be one hell worth of treasures been uncovered! =O

So earlier in the morning, I set a course for my next book of adventure by train, which estimated an hour journey towards Punggol. Out from the train station, I had to take bus no.82 from a busstop nearby, as I had found out while researching.

And seriously speaking, I had trouble finding the right busstop which leads the bus towards the place. In other words, the location was right at the end, or according to the bus directory as “Punggol End.”

And after what seems like an eternity, I managed to find the right busstop. While waiting for the bus to appear, I viewed the surrounding vicinity. With few traffic here, empty lands with some been occupied by heavy construction, spacious open fields, I can say that the landscape here was nonetheless peaceful. I mean, if you are being there or lived there. But to be expected in years to come, those open fields, that few of them were been marked as “state land” will be populated by more HDBs. Given the fact that the new Punggol 21 will lived up to its name.

The bus soon appeared, and I’m on my way there.


Within ten minutes by estimation, I finally arrived at my destination. I’m aware there’s construction going on nearby due to the new development. But its quite surprising to see that part of land adjacent to the beach were been dug up. On both sides. What I  believe to be a path that leads to the beach were mostly boarded up and concrete rods lay on all sides. And because of that, I found myself running into a lot of trouble accessing a way in to the beach. Damn!

Nearby, was an Outward Bound Singapore reception center. Maybe there’s a way in from there. So I decided to see if there’s any.

Good! There’s an entry where you need to cut between the bushes and followed the staircase of rocks that leads to the beach.

Need to do a little bashing here =D

Well, here I am. Overlooking this stretch of sand and the calmness of the sea before me. There’s a few people here as well, busy fishing. Looks like they too, had find a way to bash through.

Rocks are just everywhere!

Now, here’s something of a grim news about the beach that I came across doing research. And I believe those who had read about it were well aware of.

Title as Singapore Slaughter Beach, it was describe that a man digging for earthworms to use as a fishing bait ended up finding part of a human skeleton instead. There was a skull with two gold teeth, parts of an arm and leg.

“When I saw the remains, I found that it looked very peaceful as if it was sleeping with one hand tucked under the chin,” he said.

Upon this startling discovery, it was soon found out that the skeletons were believed to be the remains of about 400 Chinese civilians who were gunned down by the Japanese troopers during the Sook Ching Massacre. No doubt about it, as Punggol Beach was one of the three Japanese killing fields.

Eventually, all the remains were handed over to the police. And it appears that regulars at the Punggol Beach were not surprised.

“Every once in a while, someone will picked up some human remains from the beach,” one said.

“After the war, my father and a lot of villagers staying around this area helped dig up the bed in search of human skeleton,” another voiced out.

A regular fisherman at Punggol Jetty said. “It is not unusual for us to fish up a set of teeth belonging to those who had been executed. Most people are usually quite ‘pantang’ (superstitious). So, even if they see any human skeletons lying around, they will pretend not to see it. We too will not dig it up purposely.”

Here I am, viewing at the point of time where those innocent lives were been massacred. Imagine myself go traveling back in time (oh how I wished…), Feb 1942. The calm open sea, and this quiet stretch of beach were shifted as I flashback to the horrifying event that had occurred here.

There, right before my very eyes, seeing hundreds of Chinese civilians been bounded by their hands and feet, and were tied back-to-back in groups of three or four. Forcefully were led towards the surrounding waters. And without a moment to spare, machine guns started blazing. From where I stand, I could almost hear the barrage of firepower from the muzzles. The innocent lives had nowhere to run. Their disembodied scream cuts through the air, and what will be their last scream on Earth.

Just imagine myself at this spot, imagine myself seeing the horrifying event that had taken place, shudders me….

I began to take a stroll along the beach. The calm environment here helps me to ease the mind and I feel relax. What was before, was never a doubt, grim memories that shall be remember for generations to come.

Along the way, I was wondering. Will I also ended up finding human remains? I hope not!

Over the distance, I notice a platform been build at the edge of the sea. How to get across there, I had wondered. I survey the area within, hoping to find a way to get through there.

There, found one! Good thing there is, cause my path was soon been obstructed by a barricade of rocks.

Bashed through here =)

It leads up onto a track. But all seems deserted and one side of the path were been erected with corrugated fences that stretches all the way. Seems like this side too, will be a make over.

Since I’m here, I’ve decided to take a stroll across it. See where it ends to =)

And this is where the story ends….

Seems like the make over for Punggol is sure gonna be a marvelous one that might probably make our eyeballs popped out from the sockets! =D

As that is the end of the show, I traced back to where I had emerged. From where I came in, I walk further down to check on how the other side of the path turns out.

So this is how it turns out. No wonder it was inaccessible…..=(

I’m soon back on the beach. Moving back to where I had first bashed in. Think its time for me to depart from here, since there was nothing else to venture. And its also because due to the construction taking place, that allows me to explore only limited parts of the place. So far, I didn’t managed to see a memorial plague, that has been installed here as a permanent memory of the Chinese civilians who were been massacred during the Japanese Occupation. I’ve seen pictures of it while researching. The other two known Japanese killing fields were also erected with one.

I suspect they were been removed for the meantime, because of the heavy load here. Or I just happened to miss it….

Nevertheless, I’m satisfied that I managed to drag myself here somehow. To learn about the place, and how it lived to tell the tales during those gruesome times. And in years to come, it will be a more brighter and vibrant recreational place that would enhance the lifestyle of the residents living there and those coming to visit the place.

Punggol 21-Plus, here we come! =D


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