Lieutenant-General Yamashita’s sword was last seen in Singapore in 1942.

After the Japanese surrendered to allied forces in 1945, the steel Samurai sword went to the United States, where it has been kept in the museum of the military academy in West Point ever since.

Now, 75 years later, visitors to the National Museum of Singapore will be able to see this sword on Singapore soil once again, in the museum’s newest exhibition about World War II, titled Witness To War: Remembering 1942.

The exhibition, which is taking place 75 years after the fall of Singapore in 1942, opens on Sept 23 and runs till March 25, 2018.

It features more than 130 artefacts on loan from 10 overseas museums such as the Australian War Memorial and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, as well as from private donors and Singapore’s National Collection.

The exhibition looks at how the fall of Singapore 75 years ago fits into the historic narrative of the larger Pacific region.

Exhibition curator Priscilla Chua says that the inclusion of international partners puts the fall of Singapore in context of what was happening in the larger Pacific region.

For example, the British surrender in Singapore made Australia and New Zealand feel more vulnerable in the face of the Japanese imperial army.

“Context is very important. When we are focused on a particular event, we tend to forget the bigger picture. This exhibition provides more international perspective to the event,” she said.

There are also stories and interviews from everyday Singaporeans and individuals about the war, that give a more personal look at what life was like back then.

The fall of Singapore took place on Feb 15, 1942, when the British surrendered to Japanese forces after about a week of intense battle.

Besides Yamashita’s sword, a number of other artefacts are on display for the first time in South-East Asia.

These includes a recent museum acquisition, a 25-pounder field gun, which was used by British and Commonwealth troops in Singapore and Malaya during the war.

This film camera belonged to the Japan Motion Picture Company (Nippon Eigasha), which produced newsreels about Japan’s military campaigns for a domestic and international audience.

It will be accompanied by a light and sound installation that recreates the sounds of battle.

The exhibition also features video interviews with war survivors and veterans, conducted by secondary school students from various schools.

Guided tours of the exhibition will be conducted daily. There will also be related programmes such as meals made using wartime recipes by restaurant Food For Thought, which is located within the museum, as well as storytelling sessions for children. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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