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Adnan Saidi

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This is a Malay name; the name Saidi is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Adnan.
Adnan Saidi
Born 1915
Sungai Ramal, Kajang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, FMS
Died 13 February 1942 (aged 27)
Pasir Panjang, Singapore
Allegiance Royal Malay Regiment
Years of service 1933 - 1942
Rank 2nd Lieutenant
Unit 7th Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Malay Brigade
Battles/wars Battle of Pasir Panjang
Awards Best recruit in the Malay Regiment
(3 British medals) Star Medal , Defence Medal and War Medal

Adnan bin Saidi, (1915 – 14 February 1942), was a Malayan soldier of the 1st Infantry Brigade which fought the Japanese in the Battle of Singapore. He is regarded by Malaysians and Singaporeans today as a hero for his actions on Bukit Chandu. His name is also the namesake for the Malaysian Infantry Fighting Vehicle (MIFV).

Personal life

Adnan was born at Sungai Ramal near Kajang, Selangor, a Muslim of Minangkabau descent. He was the eldest child in his whole family. His younger brothers, Ahmad Saidi and Amarullah Saidi, were also soldiers. Ahmad was killed in action after his ship, HMS Pelanduk, was sunk by the Japanese on route to Australia. Amarullah survived the war and now resides in Kajang, Selangor.

Adnan was married to Sophia Pakir, an Islamic religious teacher. She died in 1949. They had a daughter, who died soon after birth, and two sons: Mokhtar Adnan, who now lives in Seremban, and Zainudin Adnan, who lives in the state of Johor.

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Battle of Pasir Panjang

Adnan led a 42-strong platoon from the Malay Regiment in the defence of Singapore against the invading Japanese. The soldiers fought at the Battle of Pasir Panjang, at Pasir Panjang Ridge in the Bukit Chandu (Opium Hill) area on 12–14 February 1942.[1] Although heavily outnumbered, Adnan refused to surrender and urged his men to fight on until the end. They held off the Japanese troops for two days amid heavy enemy shelling from artillery guns and tanks and chronic shortages of food, medical supplies and ammunition (on the last day of the battle, Adnan and his men were only left with a few hand grenades and had to fight off the Japanese soldiers with their bayonets and through brutal hand-to-hand combat. Adnan was shot but carried on fighting.

One detail regarding the battle was how he managed to identify Japanese soldiers who were attempting to infiltrate the Regiment's base in disguise as "Punjabi soldiers",[2] who were marching four abreast (the Japanese marching style) instead of three, which was the style of marching preferred by the British troops.[3]

Capture and death

It is widely understood that Adnan had been killed as a casualty of the battle, although exact details surrounding how it happen differed between opposite sides of the war and the actual mode of execution was never officially recorded.

The official version, as recorded by the Japanese Imperial Army, indicated that he was executed and then hung upside down from a cherry tree. (Other accounts say that he might have been tied to the tree first, then repeatedly bayoneted to death.[3][4]) British accounts have confirmed that his corpse was found hung upside down after the surrender and this has been repeated in a number of authoritative texts on the Malayan campaign.

Another version of the death surfaced on a local tabloid magazine, purportedly revealed by Lt Adnan's former aide just before his death. This version however could not be verified.


Adnan is currently considered a national hero by both Malaysians and Singaporeans alike due to his bravery and valiant contributions to the war against the Japanese Army invasion at that time.[5]

War Memorial

A war memorial plaque honouring Adnan and his Malay Brigade was erected in 1995 at Vigilante Drive, Kent Ridge Park.[6]

A colonial era bungalow at Bukit Chandu was converted into Reflections at Bukit Chandu, a World War II interpretative centre[7]. The actions of Lieutenant Adnan and the soldiers from the Malay Regiment are immortalized within the gallery.

The Art in Transit programme of Pasir Panjang MRT Station, titled Lieutenant Adnan by Ho Tzu Nyen features mock posters all around the station and lift shaft for a fictional movie about Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi (played by Singapore actor Aaron Aziz)[8]

Portrayal in Film

Adnan was portrayed by actor Hairie Othman in the 1999 Malaysian film Leftenan Adnan.[9] He was also portrayed by an unknown Malay actor in the 2001 Singaporean TV series A War Diary. Aaron Aziz also portrayed him in an episode of the 2004 historical series Life Story from Mediacorp Channel 5, which also covers his personal life.[10]


  1. ^ The Battle of Pasir Panjang Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi". Singapore Heroes. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi and The Malay Regiment Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ The Royal Malay Regiment
  5. ^ "Adnan bin Saidi". Badass of the Week. Backroom Productions, Inc. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Sahid, Liza. "Biography - Lt. Adnan Saidi". Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Leftenan Adnan Saidi". Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Life Story, Channel 5 12 September 2006. Retrieved on 18 September 2007.

External links