Tan Kim Cheok Neo

Tan Kim Cheok Neo (Dolly Tan)

民國卅二年四月初五日吉 (1943 May 8)
ドーリータン Dolly Tan
陳金雀娘之墓 Tomb of Tan Kim Cheok Neo
孝女 Daughters
鳳娘 Hong Neo 
珠娘 Choo Neo
施主 (Sponsor)
本村克己  Katsumi Motomura or Katsumi Hommura 
友人 (Friend)
濱野宏行 Hamano Hiroyuki


Burial Entry
Date of Burial
9 May 1943
Date of Death 
8 May 1943
Dolly Tan Kim Cheok 
Blk 2 F, Plot No P29


Among the deceased buried during the Japanese occupation of Singapore, there stand a unique mysterious lady tomb inscribed with the Japanese Imperial Year  皇紀二六〇三 (Kōki 2603) 
This corresponds to the year 1943 in the Gregorian calendar. The term "Kōki" (皇紀) refers to the Japanese imperial year system, which was used in Japan from 1873 to 1945. This system counted years from the legendary founding of Japan by Emperor Jimmu in 660 BCE. To convert a Kōki year to a Gregorian year, simply subtract 660 from the Kōki year. In this case: 2603 - 660 = 1943 So, 皇紀二六〇三 (Kōki 2603) is the year 1943 CE in the Gregorian calendar. 

Her name was Tan Kim Cheok Neo, likely a nonya because her Chinese name bears 4 characters 
陳金雀娘.  Besides her name is also inscribed Dolly Tan in Katakana.

Also mysterious and strange about this tomb is that it she doesn't carry her husband surname,  and her tomb was erected by two Japanese gentlemen as follows:
施主 (Patron Sponsor)
本村克己  Katsumi Motomura (or Katsumi Hommura) 
友人 (Friend)
濱野宏行 Hamano Hiroyuki

She died of sickness in hospital at the tender age of 29, leaving behind two young daughters Hong Neo and Choo Neo.  It is difficult to determine the surname of the daughters since her husband family name was not inscribed.

Who were these two Japanese gentleman who erected such a nice tomb during war time.  

A check on Katsumi Motomura yields the same name of a solder (army corporal) from a memorial pillar found in Saga City, Kyushu.  

Taken from Saga City Archives

This Katsumi Motomura died in 1944 (Show 19) while fighting in Yunnan on Sep 14, 1944, leaving behind a brother. He has a corporal rank . Another brother was also killed in action in Kagoshima in 1945.

We know the 25th Army under command of General Yamashita consists of the Imperial Guards, 5th Infantry Division and 18th Infantry Division and 3rd Air Division

We read that the 18th Infantry was later sent to Burma / Yunnan, and more than half of the soldiers later died in action there. 

It is highly possible that this is the same solder Katsumi Motomura who erected this tomb for Dolly Tan Cheok Neo, came with the 18th infantry division during the invasion,  somehow get to know Dolly, took a pity on this lady with two young children who died tragically at a young age of sickness and erected a tomb for her.
He would be killed in action the following year in Yunnan, following the date of the 18th infantry division.

It could be a beautiful wartime love story awaiting to be told ...

The story continues ...

Appendix (taken from wikipedia)

The 56th Division (第56師団, Dai-gojūroku Shidan) was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Dragon Division (龍兵団, Tatsu Heidan). It was formed on 10 July 1940 in Kurume, simultaneously with the 51st, 52nd, 54th, 55th, and 57th Divisions. The formation nucleus was the headquarters of the 12th Division. Its manpower came primarily from Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. The 56th Division was initially assigned to the Kurume Mobilization District, under the command of the Western District Army.

From May 1942, the 56th Division mostly performed garrison duties on the Yunnan border. The 113th Infantry Regiment was mostly in Yunnan, except for the 3rd Battalion. which was stationed in Longling County. The 148th Infantry Regiment was stationed in Tengchong. The heavy fighting resumed in January 1944 with the Battle of Lashio, as part of Battle of Northern Burma and Western Yunnan campaign in 1944. During the campaign, the division's 114th Infantry Regiment, borrowed from the 18th Division, was credited with shattering Merrill's Marauders in the Siege of Myitkyina in May–August 1944 and in delaying the 15:1 superior Chinese forces and inflicting heavy Chinese casualties during the Battle of Mount Song. Faced with numerically and better equipped enemy in an attrition battle, the 56th Division suffered heavy losses. The remnants of the division were removed from the front line in October 1944, and on the day of the surrender of Japan, 15 August 1945, on the border between South Burma and Thailand.

The 18th Division (第18師団, Dai-jūhachi Shidan) was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Chrysanthemum Division (菊兵團, Kiku heidan). The 18th Division was one of two infantry divisions newly raised by the Imperial Japanese Army immediately after the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) as part of the post war expansion of the standing Japanese military. The division received its colors on 13 November 1907. Its original headquarters was in a suburb of the city of Kurume in Fukuoka Prefecture.

From 6 November 1941 the division came under the command of Lieutenant-General Renya Mutaguchi and was reassigned to the IJA 25th Army (which was under the command of General Yamashita Tomoyuki). It participated in the invasion of Malaya and Singapore. The 124th Infantry Regiment and some other units of the 18th Division took part in the Battle of Borneo from 16 December 1941 on. Following the conquest of Singapore, the division was transferred to the IJA 15th Army for the invasion of Burma, where it suffered over 3000 casualties, primarily from malnutrition and malaria in securing control of the Ledo Road. The supply situation was so bad that some elements of the division stole rations and weapons from the stores of 53rd division, in Tanai Township earning for themselves the nickname of "thief troopers".

In 1942, the division's Kawaguchi Detachment (the 35th Infantry Brigade and 124th Infantry Regiment) was detached and sent to Sarawak, the Philippines and finally to Guadalcanal. There, it took heavy losses in the battles of Edson's Ridge and Henderson Field. After the detachment, the main body of the division was converted to the triangular division format in 1943, while the detachment became the 31st division.

Late in 1943, Mutaguchi was promoted and replaced as commander of the division by Lieutenant-General Shinichi Tanaka. Transferred to the IJA 33rd Army, and operations in northern Burma, the 18th Division fought against the American-led Chinese divisions advancing on Mogaung and Myitkyina, and against the British Chindits operating behind their lines. Although suffering heavy losses, the division nevertheless inflicted many casualties and imposed severe delays on the Allies. Especially hit was the 114th infantry regiment which suffered about 2000 combat casualties while holding an important rail and road hub of Myitkyina in 1944 while under command of the 56th division.

The 18th division ended the war in southern Burma. Of the 31,444 men of the division sent to Burma, more than 20,000 did not make it home to Japan.