Tigers in the Park
Funk Holes in Singapore
Adams Park Area
It would appear from the contemporary maps of Sime Road completed after the surrender in 1945 that at least nine tunnels were under construction in or around the camp. Notably a map drawn up by the planter, Harold Mackenzie, shows the location of the tunnel entrances including two built into the northern slopes of the Adam Park estate. They appear to be located at the bottom of the front gardens of No’s 13 and 14 Adam Park, the houses recently returned to the military authorities3.
(Click on Map to Enlarge)
The Mackenzie map showing the location of tunnels in and around the Sime Road Camp area. The tunnels marked in the lower right of the image appear to be in Adam Park estate.
(Courtesy of the Changi Museum Collection)
Among the Australian POWs assigned to the Adam Road work party was Cpl Charles Thrale from the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshires. Thrale had been attached to the 55th Brigade HQ with the Intelligence Unit and had not seen any of the fighting at Adam Park. By 1945 Thrale had already survived the Thai Burma Railway and found himself back in Changi as the war ended. He was assigned to the Adam Road tunnelling party; a unit supposedly drawn from the dwindling cadre of experienced tunnellers and miners, despite having no background in the work. In his catalogue to his post war exhibition of his work Thrale notes:
“All the prisoners not working on the aerodrome construction were sent to various camps to dig tunnels and gun emplacements in the hillsides. The main job at Adam Park was ‘funk holes’ and mine pits. There was a curious loosening of moral rigour, for we were allowed to look for food to bring back to the camp to supplement the evening meal. All kinds of things were scrounged, and our bags usually consisted of snakes, frogs, roots, weeds and sometimes fruit. Snake if nicely selected and cooked can be very appealing to a starch filled tummy” (Courtesy of the IWM)
The Australians, British and Dutch were posted into the remains of the RASC camp or ‘The Indian Camp’, so named because of the nationality of the corpses that had been found in the area after the battle. The Dutch were nominally in charge of the camp having provided most of the inmates
The accommodation had been left standing since the occupation of the POWs in 1942 and many of the huts were in urgent need of repair. The hillside was also dotted with graves of the Cambridgeshires and Suffolks; killed in the final days fighting. Burnt patches of turf and charred remains of huts paid testament to the fire that had swept the area on the last day of the battle.
Adam Park Aerial View
An aerial view of the Adam Road Camp annotated to show the allocation of the accommodation by nationality
(Authors Collection )
Korporal Jacobus Muller, a dutch soldier of the 3rd AAA battalion DEI described the camp layout as such4:
“The barracks were built against the base of a hill, supported on concrete poles. A wooden ladder was used to climb into the barracks. On the lower part of the hill the Dutch POWs had their barracks. Not far above the Dutch barracks was a general wash area. To the left of the wash area, the British POWs had their barracks, and to the left of that was a barbed wire fence. On the other side of the fence was the Japanese barracks. Behind the Japanese were the Australian POW barracks. If you wanted to go to the other barracks, you had to cross the Japanese area5.”
3 There are some unexplained concrete platforms in the front garden of No.13 Adam Park. In recent years sink holes have appeared in the garden at No.12 Adam Park.
4 Jacobus Muller was part of General Van Der Overakker' force in Sumatra, DEI. They fought on after the official surrender date of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army. Muller was a member of the 3rd AAA Battalion, based at Pakan Baroe Airfield in Sumatra. Once captured, he was sent first via Singapore onto Thailand before returning to Singapore for the final months. There he was sent back to River Valley Road Camp, spent some time at the Ford Works along the Upper Bukit Timah road before going into the Adam Road Camp
5 Email dated 15 May 2015 Jack Muller /Jon Cooper