Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies is a World War II exhibition presented by the National Archives of Singapore at the historic Former Ford Factory. This is the place where British forces surrendered to the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942. The exhibition presents the events and memories surrounding the British surrender, the Japanese Occupation and the legacies of the war.

The start of the exhibition tells the history of the Former Ford Factory and sets the scene on life for people in pre-war Singapore. Visitors will learn how the building evolved from its start as the Ford Motor Company’s first car assembly plant in Southeast Asia in 1941 to a gazetted national monument in 2006.

Fall Of Singapore
Interior of a screening exhibition within Former Ford Factory.

Photo by National Archives of Singapore

The exhibition showcases fresh perspectives on the fall of Singapore. These are presented through three intertwining narratives on Japanese aggression, British defences and how civilians in Singapore were caught up in the larger forces of imperial struggle and war.

Visitors will have the unique experience of being able to walk into the very boardroom where the surrender took place on 15 February 1942.

Becoming Syonan
Interior of a walking exhibition within Former Ford Factory.

Photo by National Archives of Singapore

After the British surrender, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to, or ‘Light-of-the South’. Learn about acts of atrocity such as “Sook Ching” where there was mass screening of Chinese men and those suspected of being anti-Japanese were mercilessly killed. Discover other harrowing experiences and the different ways people responded to severe challenges and suffering through the display of personal items from that time and the oral history interviews of eye witnesses to actual events.

Legacies Of War And Occupation

On 5 September 1945, the Japanese surrendered and the British returned to Singapore. The wartime experience and the British Military Administration’s shortcomings left the people with a less than rosy view of the returning colonial rulers. The legacies of the war are presented on various levels: British grand plans for decolonisation; the social challenges of post-war reconstruction; and the people’s political awakening. The exhibition ends on a contemplative note on how we remember the war and its enduring legacies.

For The Complete Experience

Free learning resources

For those with children, enrich your visit with the learning resources that help you explore and uncover a wealth of knowledge as a family. For the enriching experience, download the Former Ford Factory’s Activity Guide for children or the Challenge Worksheet for secondary students.

Free guided tours

Join the walk-in tours led by experienced volunteer guides to discover more stories behind the rich collections on display. There are 20 places available daily (except for public holidays). Tour schedules are subject to change, so to avoid disappointment, do check the website for details.