Alexandra Hospital, though protected by the red cross, an international symbol of medical sanctuary, was the location for one of the "largest massacre of British troops in World War II" in the earning morning of 13 February 1942, a day before British's surrender. It was recorded in the history books that many bullets were fired across by 3 platoons from the Japanese company and killed numerous innocent Indian and British soldiers who were protecting Singapore.
Alexandra Hospital during pre-war
The Japanese spared no one in the hospital. Surgical teams in the operating theatres were prevented from treating patients by "a hail of bullets that thudded against the walls" and "dozens of Japanese soldiers setting upon them with bayonets." The rest were taken as hostages.
Meanwhile, another group of Japanese soldiers were assembling a group of surrendered men who tried to escape through a drain tunnel under the railway embankment and those who hide in one of the system of tunnels existing beneath the hospital. Theories of that the tunnels led to Labrador was deemed as far fetched as "it was beyond British's finances and engineering capabilities at that time." It was later found to be a storage compartment for medical equipment.
Entrances of the Tunnels
Entrances of the Tunnels
The guerilla warfare and "communist-led" violence in post-war Singapore meant that the military hospital continued to relevant in provide emergency healthcare services. Furthermore, the wounded or casualty were often ambushed when travelled along the roads. In 1950s, the advent of helicopters and the helipad at Alexandra Hospital made it possible to transport serious cases to Singapore. Then, the hospital was considered as the best equipped in facilities and medical expertise in Singapore and Malaysia.
Vehicles used to transport patients in the 1950s
Another department in Alexandra Hospital which had increased workload in the 1950s is the gynaecology department. The post war baby boom meant that the hospital had to make many deliveries. By the time the hospital was handed over to the Singapore government, more than 35,000 babies had been delivered at the hospital.
Birth Certificate of a child delivered at Alexandra Hospital
In 1971, the British troops announced a decision to pull out from their ex-colonies due to their precarious financial position and the rising costs of maintaining troops overseas. This ended the 33-year military history of the hospital. No longer will the hospital witness an early morning reveille nor the thudding sound from a soldier's boots.
Royal Crest of the Hospital
Watch Alexandra Hospital's transformation into a Civilian Hospital Next Week!
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