|click for more photos of steps built by Australian POWs|
For this blog, its wartime history is what is fascinating. This history was included, unlike in Japan's UNESCO application, in Singapore's description of the site and its application.
Kwan Koriba, Botany Professor from the Imperial University of Kyoto, became Director in December 1942. With a background in the relations between plant behavior and climate, Koriba immersed himself in research on the growth habits of selected Malayan trees using both the Garden’s Rain Forest and the Nature Reserves and produced a scientific paper entitled “Periodicity of Tree-growth in the Tropics”.
During the war, a set of brick steps down to the Plant House were built by Australian POWs. In August 1995, upon the 50th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities, a group of veteran POWs from Australia came to the Gardens to examine the steps they had built with bricks marked with arrows. The POWs had made bricks at a brickworks in Changi Prison.
|Marks of defiance|
The Japanese were likely not aware of the meaning of the arrows, and if discovered, the prisoners would probably have been punished severely. Today, the arrows serve as a reminder of their bravery at a time of great hardship.