70th Anniversary of Operation Jaywick

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Yesterday, HE Antony Phillipson made a speech at the Kranji War Memorial to commemorate those who have fought for our freedoms.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to start by offering sincere thanks to Jeya and his team at Changi Museum for arranging this event, we would not be here without their efforts over the last week or so.

I have visited Kranji many times in my time here in Singapore as High Commissioner.

We hold our annual Remembrance Sunday service here. My Australian and New Zealand colleagues arrange their annual ANZAC Day services here. Visiting Ministers and senior officials from the Ministry of Defence make a point of coming here to pay their respects.

As did Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a year ago, when they laid a wreath on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Phillip during their official visit to Singapore.

My most recent visit was with my Uncle just last Sunday. He came to find the last resting place of four of his battalion who died in Sarawak in April 1965 helping to defend what was then the Federated States of Malaysia from Indonesian efforts to destabilise that young country, just a few months before Singapore became wholly independent.

The popular memory of events in this theatre during World War II are unsurprisingly dominated by the catastrophe of the Fall of Singapore in February 1942. What is known to some but not enough is we fought on here in SE Asia.

On occasion we did so with success. As you’ve just heard from Philip Operation Jaywick, 70 years ago today, was one such occasion.

Operation Rimau just over a year later was an attempt to repeat that success but with tragic consequences. 13 died in the action itself including LTC Ivan Lyon, leader of Z force while 10 were captured and put on trial for espionage, found guilty and beheaded just months before the Japanese surrender in September 1945. They are buried here, as is Ivan Lyon.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is not actually so important whether we gather to remember the success of Jaywick or the failure of Rimau.

What is important is why we gather on these occasions…why we come together for Remembrance Sunday, ANZAC Day or the more personal visits that I mentioned earlier.

We gather to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of our liberty.

We gather to pay tribute to those whose lives were affected, even destroyed, by the loss of loved ones who fell….

And to those who were wounded, physically and mentally, and paid an ongoing cost for their bravery and service…

And, of course, to those who were not combatants but who suffered retribution, such as the civilian victims of the Double Tenth incident and countless other atrocities here and elsewhere during World War II and so many places down the ages.

And ultimately we gather to ensure that memory of all their sacrifice does not fade with time.

Jaywick was 70 years ago today. Next year sees the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1. The following year sees the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

I could go on endlessly listing similar anniversaries. But the simple fact is that we owe our present liberty to the sacrifice and service of those who came before us.

And we will remember them.