Cenotaph



The Cenotaph, located at Esplanade Park along Connaught Drive, is a war memorial which commemorates the sacrifice of men who perished during World War I and II.1 It was first unveiled on 31 March 1922 by the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor and King Edward VIII).2 The war memorial was gazetted as a national monument on 28 December 2010, together with two other structures at Esplanade Park – the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and Tan Kim Seng Fountain.3

History
The Cenotaph was first erected as a memorial in honour of the 124 men from Singapore who died in action during World War I.4 It was designed by architect Denis Santry of Swan & Maclaren, and modelled after the Whitehall Cenotaph in London, England.5

The foundation stone was laid on 15 November 1920 by Laurence Nunns Guillemard (Sir), then governor of the Straits Settlements, in the presence of then premier of France, M. Georges Clemenceau, as well as D. H. Ridout (Major-General, Sir), the general officer commanding the troops, Straits Settlements.6 The memorial was unveiled on 31 March 1922 in a solemn ceremony by the Prince of Wales during his tour of Malaya, India, Australia and New Zealand.7

In 1950, the government approved an extension to the base of the structure to commemorate those who died during World War II.8 The extension was completed in 1951.9

Description
The Cenotaph is made of local granite and nearly 18 m high. Bronze tablets on the memorial bear the names of the men who perished in World War I. Each of the original five steps leading up to the monument bears the war years 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918. Crowning the structure is a sarcophagus with bronze lion’s head handles. Beneath it is a bronze medallion, which consists of a laurel wreath of victory enclosing a crown to which these men had rallied and is also a symbol of the crown colony. Lower down is the inscription “The Glorious Dead”, and below the inscription are the dates 1914 to 1918.10

On the reverse side, though no names are listed to commemorate the World War II casualties, the phrase “They died that we might live” is inscribed in the four official languages: English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. The extended steps added in 1951 bear the war years 1939 to 1943 in succession, leaving the remaining years of the war, “1944” and “1945”, to be inscribed on the base of the monument.11

There are 14 pylons on both sides of the stone structure showing the names of famous World War I battles, with each battle surmounted by a laurel wreath.12

Overall, the Cenotaph is a simple but stately granite structure, wrought with just a hammer and chisel.13



Authors
Zubaidah Mohamed & Valerie Chew



References
1. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
2. At the war memorial. (1922, March 31). Malaya Tribune, p. 6; The war memorial. (1922, April 1). Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
3. Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Subsidiary legislation supplement. (2010, December 28). The Preservation of Monuments Order 2010 (S 798/2010, pp. 3651–3653). Singapore: [s.n.]. (Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS); Yen, F. (2010, December 28). S’pore Conference Hall a national monument. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Our glorious dead. (1922, April 1). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
5. Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
6. Singapore war memorial. (1920, November 16). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
7. At the war memorial. (1922, March 31). Malaya Tribune, p. 6; The war memorial. (1922, April 1). Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 374. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
8. Cenotaph plan approved. (1950, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved NewspaperSG.
9. Work completed on cenotaph. (1951, April 29). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Singapore’s war memorial to the glorious dead. (1920, November 11). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ramachandra, S. (1953, November 8). Lest we forget... The Straits Times, p. 6; Singapore monuments. (1988, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. The war memorial. (1922, March 18). The Straits Times, p. 8; Arrival of the prince. (1922, March 31). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Arrival of the prince. (1922, March 31). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
War memorials--Singapore
Monuments--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Monuments
Arts>>Architecture>>Architectural structure
National monuments
Singapore--History--1867-1942