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18 hours ago, ellie1145 said:

 

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I'm Aussie, but when i travel, i like to eat what the locals do and have tasted some of the most amazing foods in Singapore - I hope you tried some of the local delicacies.  When i saw this pic, I thought "WOO HOO - Ikan-bilis for breakfast!"  (fried peanuts and anchovies ~ yum!), presumably as a condiment for Nasi-Lemak, even better!  My fave Singapore breakfast is Kaya Toast, do try it if you get the chance, soft boiled eggs with toast and coconut jam - you dip the coconut jam covered toast into the soft eggs, oh my, I'm salivating just thinking about it! And cheap too - my family of 3 can get (each) 2 eggs + kaya toast + Singaporean Kopi (strong coffee with sweet condensed milk) for about S$12-14 total for the 3 of us.  
 

 

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3 hours ago, mtn_couple said:

 

I'm Aussie, but when i travel, i like to eat what the locals do and have tasted some of the most amazing foods in Singapore - I hope you tried some of the local delicacies.  When i saw this pic, I thought "WOO HOO - Ikan-bilis for breakfast!"  (fried peanuts and anchovies ~ yum!), presumably as a condiment for Nasi-Lemak, even better!  My fave Singapore breakfast is Kaya Toast, do try it if you get the chance, soft boiled eggs with toast and coconut jam - you dip the coconut jam covered toast into the soft eggs, oh my, I'm salivating just thinking about it! And cheap too - my family of 3 can get (each) 2 eggs + kaya toast + Singaporean Kopi (strong coffee with sweet condensed milk) for about S$12-14 total for the 3 of us.  
 

 

 

 

Good morning, mtncouple, or perhaps I should say ‘g’day‘ as I think its evening with you.  Good to hear from you.

 

We did find that, due to the heat and our very hectic schedule, we were not as hungry as usual, and often skipped lunch altogether, having had a very good breakfast, but we did eat a couple of times at the food court near to our hotel, (a bit like the Hawker Market food) where there were all manner of places selling local cuisine, freshly cooked in front of you, and amazingly good value.

 

We did find a Kaya Toast, which we had researched, and which sounded interesting, but as we had breakfast at the hotel we did not actually experience the boiled eggs and toast, but your description has me salivating, too! It is actually one of the free food offerings with the Singapore Explorer Pass. 

 

Individual Breakfast Deals

Choice of 1 out of 3 meal sets: 
1. Ya Kun Kaya Toast 
2. Nonya Kueh Set 
3. Komala's Breakfast Set 

Individual Dining Deals

Choice of 1 out of 4 meal sets:
1. Violet Oon Satay Bar and Grill  
2. Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice Set
3. Founders and Bak Kut Teh
4. Komala's Meal Set

 

I think you have given me another reason to go back to Singapore! So thank you! 

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The Battlebox Tour

I hope you are all refreshed after our interlude at the National Museum, and that you are not too ‘historied’ out. We have a fascinating afternoon ahead, as our next port of call is the tour of the Battle Box.

 

But before we hop into a taxi I will give you a brief explanation about the Fort itself, and its relevance to the Fall of Singapore.

 

 

Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside the actual building, but if our trip today whets your appetite, there are many good photos on the internet which will show you the fascinating inside. 

 

During World War II Singapore was strategically very important, and we had a well equipped Naval Base, airfields, and a large British military presence on the island.

 

We are going to visit Fort Canning, popularly known as the Battle Box, which was the Headquarters Malaya Command Operations Bunker. It was constructed under Fort Canning Hill and provided an emergency bomb-proof command centre. It is now a fascinating museum.

 

Canning Hill, a small hill in the centre of Singapore Island, once housed a residence owned by Sir Stamford Raffles. A fort was build on the hill in 1867, and later, in 1936, the Fort Canning Bunker was built 30ft beneath the hill. Once completed it had up to 29 rooms, and was constructed with one metre (3ft) thick reinforced concrete walls, which could withstand a direct hit from bombs and shells.

 

Within the fort there was a telephone exchange which connected to all military and most civilian switchboards in Malaya, operations (and which was to prove totally inadequate at the height of the battle), signals rooms, sleeping quarters, and the usual latrines. It was the HQ of Major General Frank Keith Simmons, who was the man responsible for the defence of Singapore Island. When the battle began, Lieutenant-General Percival moved his Sime Road HQ to the Fort Canning Bunker, together with around 500 men and officers.

 

It was here, in the Anti-Aircraft Defence Room, on February 15th, 1942, that the decision was made by Lieutenant General Percival and his fellow officers, to surrender to the Japanese. They really had no other choice as, not only were water supplies diminishing, but they had no viable options for launching a counter attack.The surrender took place at the nearby Ford Factory. 

 

Before the Japanese took over Fort Canning, the rooms were stripped and all items burned. After the war it was bricked up. It wasn’t until 1988 that it was rediscovered, although it took until 1997, to be reopened as a museum, after a $3 million restoration.

 

So, are you ready? Then off we go again.

 

It's blisteringly hot, so although the fort is close by we call for a taxi and wait outside the museum for a couple of minutes. We drive the short distance to the site of the tour, and we emerge from the taxi the intense heat hits us. We make our way swiftly to the Information Centre, which is cooler. 

 

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0295B636-A23D-40A2-8E19-C079BF083AE5.thumb.jpeg.b6f66a61ff826eefd07312c7829300e6.jpegWe enter the gift shop and browse while we wait for our tour to begin. I have brought copies of some original artefacts which my FIL brought back. They offer a fascinating glimpse into life in the camps. With true British grit the prisoners kept themselves amused by planning concerts and he kept the programmes they produced. There are also pencil drawings by fellow prisoners which are stark reminders of life in POW camps. I speak to one of the people on the check in desk and leave a package with them in hopes that they might be of some use.

 

Our time slot arrives and a lovely lady appears who is to be our guide. There are about 12 people as well as us, all ages including some children, which is nice to see. We are offered a bottle of water which we will be most grateful for later, and we set off at a brisk trot up a shady pathway. 

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At the top of the incline we have to stop and wait as a convoy of police outriders zoom up the hill and deposit an important looking contingency in front of us, at an imposing looking building.

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Our tour starts with Fort Canning Park. Our guide, who speaks perfect English, is a mine of information and although it is very hot it is a brilliant tour.

 

 

Fort Canning Hill was originally known as Bukit Larangan, or Forbidden Hill in Malay. It has been an important landmark since the earliest days of Singpaore’s history. Local settlers were, apparently, afraid to climb the hill as they believed it was the site of palaces built by their ancestral kings, and contained burial grounds.

 

Many of Singapore’s rulers lived on this hill, including the Majapahit kings, who built palatial residences here. As I mentioned before, Sir Stamford Raffles built a 100ft x 50ft wooden bungalow on this hill, and as we walk round the hill it is easy to see why this location was so attractive. Being the highest elevation, at just over 60 m high, it would have provided some small relief from the intense heat and humidity of Singapore, as it would have captured any breezes, and the trees and plants would have provided a green and stunning view.

 

It was here that the Sir Stamford Raffles, together with Nathaniel Wallich, both keen botanists, established Singapore’s first  Botanic Gardens, and planting included both nutmegs and cloves.

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We pause by this canon so that our guide can give us some information. At this point she suggests that if we have mosquito repellant, we use it! She hands round a small container of repellant which we gratefully spray on our arms and legs. 

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Should you visit this historic area be sure to remember mozzie spray, unfortunately we didn’t! It is also quite a hilly tour, with many steps up and down to negotiate, so you do need a certain level of fitness.

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Our guide takes us along leafy paths with many beautiful plants and trees, to our first stop, the Keramat Iskandar Shah.

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The Keramat Iskandar Shah, at the foot of the hill, is believed to have been the resting place of the last Malay king of the island, and is revered by Muslims, Chinese, and Hindus. It is, apparently, maintained by a particular Moslem family and their descendants, and today we see a gentleman reverently sweeping leaves away.

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After a brief stop our guide escorts us down leafy paths, through tropical gardens, which are beautiful. 

 

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Fort Canning Park - continued

 

The gardens are really beautiful and offer some welcome shade, as its very hot.

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We reach an area of excavations which is very interesting.It is well set out and very informative.

 

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View of the city from the gardens. 

 

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We climb up some steps and pass a wall in which there are some poignant reminders of how tough life must have been for the early British settlers. The heat and humidity which would have faced them on their arrival must have been very difficult to bear.

 

Set in the wall are numerous tombstones of little children who, sadly, did not survive the brutal conditions in those days. They would have succumbed to disease and many did not survive early childhood.

 

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I stop to read the inscriptions, one after another, little children often only a few months old are remembered here. It is very emotional to see so many lost children. 

 

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Fort Canning Hill is used for many concerts and cultural events, and today they are preparing for one such event. 

 

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After a short wait we are on our way again, ready for our appointed time in the Battle Box.

 

 

 

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Finally, we enter the almost hidden doorway set in the hillside which leads into the fort itself. The fall of Singapore is very sad, and a catalogue of errors and misjudgment, but the final capitulation was designed to save lives.

 

It’s cool inside as we make our way down into the heart of the fort. It is easy to imagine how claustrophobic it must have been for the 500 men who were crammed into this small space. Although there was a ventilation system, and an engine room provided enough electricity to allow fresh air to enter the bunker, it must have been extremely uncomfortable to have worked there. 

 

It’s all too easy to look back and say what should have happened, but in their defence, the war was being fought on many fronts, and the allies  were badly overstretched. Singapore seemed invincible, but it ended with an embarrassing capitulation by the British forces, and the horrors of captivity by so many men.

 

In fact the Japanese had only a third of the armed forces that we had here, and yet they marched in with little resistance. They had excellent strategies, and marched through Thailand and Burma, en route to Singapore, which was the major British military base and strategically vital, but in just a week the Japanese achieved a decisive victory, and the largest British surrender in history. Churchill called it ‘the worst disaster’ in British Military History.

 

The Japanese took two months to advance down the Malayan Peninsula and brought lots of light tanks with them - the British had none, and they also provided the troops with bicycles, either imported or stolen from villages on the way. This enabled them to move really fast and catch the British unawares.

 

When it was clear that the Japanese would invade, we sent just 2 warships from the UK to Singapore, which took over 40 days to get there, and when they sailed up the coast the Japanese sank them immediately. We definitely did not support Singapore adequately, but we had so many fronts to fight on its not surprising (Europe, Russia, Africa, The Mediterranean).

 

We had the most antiquated planes, including really heavy World War 1 biplanes which were no match for the Japanese fast new fighter planes built by Mitsubishi. They bombed Singapore first in preparation for the invasion, and we lost most of our planes, so our troops had no air cover.

 

My FIL used to tell us that when the airfield at Changi was bombed he jumped into a trench, and was then called over to a neighbouring trench by his superior officer,  which had a roof on it. Thank goodness he did, as the original trench took a direct hit and he would have been killed. 

 

The Japanese marched in swiftly and overran the area, despite desperate attempts to hold them back. He, of course, was swiftly taken prisoner and thus began his incredibly hard life under the Japanese.

 

We are taken along the subterranean corridors through the various rooms, and into the heart of the communications rooms in the fort. The rooms are set up with wax mannequins, representing the main players of the drama which was to unfold, and which add to the atmosphere.

 

We enter the Surrender Conference Room, which is where the final decision was made. There are 12 mannequins here, gathered round a large table, and you can almost feel the tension as they discussed their hopeless position. We see the man whose final decision it was, Lieutenant General Percival, and his fellow officers. 

 

We are also shown the Communications Room, which was the hub of information,  received and sent.  Communications would have been incredibly difficult at this time. The only way they could get information about where the Japanese were was by observers in different places phoning in to tell them. They had no direct military line to Kuala Lumpur and had to use civilian lines, which were blocked by people trying to contact relatives so it took them 45 minutes to get information, by which time it was too late.

 

We are shown the living quarters, the latrines, and the engine room and fire escape. It cannot have been a very comfortable way of life for those operating here.

 

There were 150,000 allied troops in Singapore when it fell, and all of them were taken captive. Many were put in Changi, like my FIL, then moved out, up country to build the Burma Railway, thousands dying on the way, even before they reached camps in the jungle.

 

The tour is at an end and we thank our wonderful guide for so vividly describing the events surrounding the fall of Singapore.

 

We’ve had a fascinating afternoon, and one which has been so informative.

 

Now we decide to get a taxi to Clarke Quay where we grab something to eat before taking a riverboat trip, which, after our hectic afternoon, is very relaxing.

 

So, dear cruising adventurers (and history buffs), I hope that you haven’t been too bored, but you can now look forward to a gentle trip down the river to recharge your batteries.  

 

I suggest you grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants and eateries at Clarke Quay, and we will regroup at the river boat office very soon to collect our tickets.

 

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Amazing how much we are learning about this. 
 

I had to put a harness on so that this group can be sure that I’m following up.  If not just drag me along. Just be sure to slow down so we can admire the photos. 
 

it is a wonderful tour I’m in no hurry to get back home soon. 
 
Crazy Irving 🇨🇦 

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7 hours ago, rmf11699 said:

Even though we live in different countries we were allies and I thank your FIL for being part of the greatest generation.

 

Thank you for your wonderful comment, indeed they were an amazing generation, who fought so hard and gave their lives so that we would have the freedoms which, sometimes, it seems so many take for granted.

 

And those that were lucky enough to return from war, wherever that took place, had to simply put their experiences behind them and try to make a new life for themselves. 

 

We were allies, as you say, and long may that remain so.

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7 hours ago, CrazyIrving said:

Amazing how much we are learning about this. 
 

I had to put a harness on so that this group can be sure that I’m following up.  If not just drag me along. Just be sure to slow down so we can admire the photos. 
 

it is a wonderful tour I’m in no hurry to get back home soon. 
 
Crazy Irving 🇨🇦 

 

Welcome, Crazy Irving!

 

We will certainly make sure you don’t get left behind. This is a virtual tour, so we can do anything!

 

There’s much more to come, but first we will take a relaxing sail down the river. 

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36 minutes ago, curlybelle2 said:

Following along and learning so much. Thank You!

 

So wonderful to have you with us!

 

I am so excited to see people from so many different places looking in. 

 

Hope you enjoy the rest of the trip.

 

Sit back and relax as we drift down the Singapore River.

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3 hours ago, Duffysmom said:

I’m being transported out of my isolation and learning so much, thank you..

 

Glad you are enjoying it, Duffysmom!

 

There’s a lot more to come, but for now, sit back and relax on our boat trip.🙂 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

Yay; thank you for doing a cruise blog for us!

 

Welcome onboard, Cruisequeen4ever!

 

Glad to have you with us. Lots more to come!

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What a fantastic read - really interesting from my perspective as my mum's cousin was also a POW on the Burma Railway and ended up in a Japanese camp. We never heard the detail of his experiences in person before he passed away and I could only find out which camps he was moved to from online research. We wanted to go to Changi Chapel and Museum too if we got to Singapore so am waiting patiently for it to re-open.  Also, can't wait to read about your impression of Majestic Princess - she is one of our favourite ships ever since we went on her first 2 voyages in the Med. 😃

 

Sandra

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Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river......

 

 

Our taxi drops us at Clarke Quay and we grab a bite to eat before walking down to where the riverboats are docked. 

 

We show our Explorer Passes and are soon given tickets for the next boat. There are lots of people waiting to board, so we join the queue. 

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The riverboat trip takes us down the river towards the Marina Bay Sands area. And back again, under numerous bridges, past the famous Merlion and in front of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. 

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These cruises are run by the Singapore River Cruise company, which has 24 boats. They utilise ‘bum boats’ which, originally, were small boats used to ferry supplies to ships moored offshore, as well as transporting cargo and goods upstream to warehouses at Clarke Quay. 

 

They are now small water taxis which primarily take tourists on short cruises up and down the river. Originally they were sailboats, then diesel, which was polluting. Now they are electric and both silent and environmentally friendly.

 

The boats are brightly painted and have eyes and faces painted on their bows. We sit right at the back of the boat, in the open air as I want to take photos. It’s actually quite a small river, and in no way comparable to our River Thames, but its an interesting trip. We pass many other little boats, some of which are restaurants, and as we leave Clarke Quay we see numerous hotels which line the riverbank.

 

We glide silently down the river. The sun is beginning to set, and its definitely cooler thank goodness. 

 

So sit back and enjoy the view. 

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Along the riverbank there are also numerous restaurants, with people enjoying a meal in the open. There are also two by boats which are moored, and which have been restored to house a cocktail bar and a dining area.

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We pass under several bridges, as we sail quietly and serenely down the river. There is very little other traffic, unlike the River Thames.

 

I’ll stop waffling and let you enjoy the sights as we sail slowly down the river.

 

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The sky is still bright and there is the promise of a beautiful sunset.

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We pass under several bridges.

 

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10 minutes ago, dides said:

What a fantastic read - really interesting from my perspective as my mum's cousin was also a POW on the Burma Railway and ended up in a Japanese camp. We never heard the detail of his experiences in person before he passed away and I could only find out which camps he was moved to from online research. We wanted to go to Changi Chapel and Museum too if we got to Singapore so am waiting patiently for it to re-open.  Also, can't wait to read about your impression of Majestic Princess - she is one of our favourite ships ever since we went on her first 2 voyages in the Med. 😃

 

Sandra

 

Good evening, Sandra! Nice to have a fellow Brit alongside too! 

 

Our greatest sadness is that we never asked my FIL more about his experiences. Much of what I’ve learned about the infamous Burma railway has been gleaned from some of the amazing books written by former prisoners. I’m afraid that his wife did not like him to talk about his time as a POW, and like most men of his generation he just got on with life. 

 

I’m interested to hear that you, too, had a relative who was a POW. I’d love to know how you managed to find out what camps he was in.

 

The chapel is very moving. We lit a candle for my FIL and my DH left a message, like many before him. The museum was also very interesting and atmospheric, but in dire need of a revamp. We, too, can’t wait for it to reopen, and hope that, pandemic permitting, we will once again get the chance to visit Singapore.

 

We loved Majestic Princess, as you will see later on.........

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Posted (edited)

Hope you are relaxing, and enjoying the scenery. There is something quite magnetic about skyscrapers set against an evening sky. They fascinate me. 

191E52FD-C1E1-49CB-B7A9-9DC2EF389586.thumb.jpeg.eb7c4cbcd416b401baa8020699c7cf60.jpeg

 

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We pass people eating at riverside restaurants.

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We pass colonial buildings on our left hand side.

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The Marina Bay Sands ship looks as if it is sailing over the top of the roof of the famous Fullerton Hotel.

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We pass the famous Fullerton Hotel, which is a grand neoclassical landmark built in 1928. It was once home to the General Post Office, and is a beautiful building. At one time it housed the highly exclusive Singapore Club, which was accessible to top European tycoons and British Civil Servants.

 

During the invasion of the Japanese it was used as a hospital, but later became the HQ of the Japanese Military Administration in Singapore, so it has a long and varied history.

 

Singapore’s transition from colonial status to sovereign nation took place at Fullerton Square. Finally, in 1997, it was sold and converted into a luxury 400 bed hotel, opened by the Prime Minister in 2001, and containing, amongst other things, a 25 metre outdoor infinity swimming pool.

 

The building itself is made of grey Aberdeen granite and once held a lighthouse, the Fullerton Light, which was mounted on the roof of the building and could be seen by ships 29km (16 nautical miles) away.

 

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We catch a glimpse of this sculpture, and at first glance the children look so real I catch my breath as they jump into the river.

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Edited by ellie1145
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I am definitely along for the ride. How wonderful to get the chance to see where your ancestors have served. I felt so emotional on a cruise to the Panama canal where my father was stationed during WWII.

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I hope you haven’t been lulled to sleep......my favourite building is just around the corner.......

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That ship gets everywhere!

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The sun is sinking low as we reach Marina Bay.

 

As we get nearer the bay we pass the Merlion, which is the official mascot of Singapore, and used everywhere as a logo on many tourist board approved souvenirs. It is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish.

FDF79D07-B7B7-41BC-8429-310801F6B1C2.thumb.jpeg.3fdf89305d47bec7971b02fa7c3603a7.jpegThe lion’s head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, meaning ‘lion city.’ It is 8.6 metres tall, weighs 70 tons, and has a fountain spilling out of its mouth. It can be seen in the movie, ‘Filthy Rich Asians.’

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The sun is beginning to set lower in the sky as we approach the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and its an awesome sight.

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To our left we can see the Singapore Flyer, which I have to say was a of a disappointment last time, as to be honest, there isn’t a lot to see, especially compared to the London Eye.

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2 minutes ago, katisdale said:

I am definitely along for the ride. How wonderful to get the chance to see where your ancestors have served. I felt so emotional on a cruise to the Panama canal where my father was stationed during WWII.

 

Great to see you joining us! 

 

So glad you had the opportunity to visit the part of the world where your father was stationed.  It is a truly emotional time and one to treasure.

 

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27 minutes ago, ellie1145 said:

 

I’m interested to hear that you, too, had a relative who was a POW. I’d love to know how you managed to find out what camps he was in.

 

 

There are quite a lot of Prisoner of War records held on Ancestry, also ForcesWarRecords and  FindmyPast   

They all want your money so be careful what you sign up for but the initial search is usually free. It helps if you have unique names of course!

 

Sandra

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