War Tales From The Battlebox

No Question of Surrender

LIVING in fear, as sirens wailed and the dark spectre of another invasion loomed, how did those directly affected in the battle for Singapore react?

Was there a sense of optimism in the perceived superiority of the Allied forces? Or was there uncertainty as the invading Japanese made inroads?

These are situations we are not used to, even if we watch the troubles in the world unfolding on our screens.

But going back a few generations, the stories of the Japanese occupation and the atrocities that took place are still recalled with a shudder or a sigh.

Many of these narratives are slowly fading as the WWII generation fades into the background. 

No Question of Surrender

But a few monuments still stand, as testimony to what transpired. One of them being the Battlebox in Fort Canning Park.

The Battlebox is Singapore’s only World War II bunker. Constructed between 1936 and 1939, the historic site was where the defending Allied forces planned and strategised against the invading Japanese army during the final months of the Malayan Campaign — 8 December 1941 to 15 Feb 1942. It was to be one of the greatest defeats of the British army and would mark the beginning of more than 3 years under another oppressor, the Japanese.

The Battlebox is a historic site filled with information for those who are curious about what took place there during WWII.

It also serves as an event venue for the facility’s new operator Global Cultural Alliance.

War Stories

Testing its viability as such, the first production, NO QUESTION OF SURRENDER: Three Days Before the Fall, is an immersive theatrical production that is cleverly written and directed by Jonathan Lim, as part of the National Heritage Board’s Battle for Singapore 2024 programme. 

The show involves a small audience of 45 as members of a volunteer corps who are briefed on the status of the war three days before Singapore’s eventual fall.

No Question of Surrender

The cast of four takes different groups through the narrative; part instructional, part reflective, and engaging for the facts that are shared about the Malayan Campaign. There’s enough snark and bark within the dialogue to hold your attention, along with details that may otherwise have required much scouring of many textbooks to piece together.

It’s a two-hour history lesson on a spectacular failure by the Allied forces, who misread the capabilities of the Japanese and had to meekly surrender.

NO QUESTION OF SURRENDER: Three Days Before the Fall will run over two weekends from 23 Feb to 3 Mar 2024. Click HERE for ticketing information.

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