On the 4th Nov 1937, in a final approval for the A.M.T.B. defences of Singapore, two Twin 6 Pounder Batteries on Pulau Tekong Besar were listed. They were a two gun battery on the East of Tekong Besar and a one gun battery on the West coast. These became Calder Harbour and Ladang Batteries respectively.
At Ladang there was to be:-
One Twin 6-Pounder Gun Emplacement, a Gun Director Tower, a Magazine, a Stores and Shelter block, two 30° fixed D.E.Ls., An Engine Room and an Engine Room Stores Block.
The works were due to be completed within nine months of 1st November 1938. The building works may have been completed on time, but no armament was forthcoming for Ladang. The looming European war (which broke out on 3rd September 1939), meant that priority for coast defence weapons was given to British Home Defences and places such as Malta.
A cipher from the War Office in London to the G.O.C. Malaya on 28th August 1940, stated:
“Owing to necessary diversion of 6-pdr. twin equipments to Home requirements impossible forecast date of provision for Singapore. But installation of 6-pdrs. at Home will release 12-pdrs. four of which should become available for shipment to Singapore by end of October for installation in the interim. Cable Map references and trunnion heights of selected sites for their installation”.
The G.O.C. Malaya on 30th September 1940 sent to the War Office, “Sites selected for 12 pounders are Twin 6s, one Ladang, two Berhala one Labrador south”. On 30th January 1941 the War Office sent by cipher to G.O.C. to Malaya, “One 12-Pounder to be mounted at Ladang, 2 Changi outer, 1 Labrador”.
By March 1941, the Emplacement at Ladang must have been modified for the 12 Pounder. On the 5th March 1941, a cipher from G.O.C. Malaya to the War Office included the moving around of Twin 6 Pounders and 12 Pounders. Two 12 Pounders were to be displaced from Berhala to allow two Twin 6 Pounders be mounted there. The 12 Pounders were to be moved, one to Labrador and one to Siloso. “This leaves Ladang with one 12-pdr equipment which is considered sufficient for the moment”. with the 12 Pounder Ladang went to war.
Ladang sees action.
On the 5th February 1942, the War Diary HQ Fixed Defences reported that around four bombs were dropped near Ladang. No damage was reported. At 2100 on 13 Feb 42, the Ladang 12 Pounder and the 6 Inch Sphinx Battery opened fire on the Japanese on Pulau Ubin. Ladang was the only A.M.T.B. Battery to see action against the Japanese.
As often happens in war, there were humorous moments. From the Changi Fire Command War Diary:
12-12-41 0056 LAD (Ladang) report sentry fired one round S.A.A. (small arms ammunition) having observed a body moving on the beach. SARJ (Sejahat) reports hearing shot. Patrols sent out from LAD. Large dog probably cause of trouble.
Demolitions were carried out at Ladang during late afternoon on 14th February and the gun was spiked. The gun was left in the emplacement during the war, but was beyond repair. The gunners remained at Ladang until the Japanese finally arrived on Pulau Tekong on 22nd February 1942.
In 1946, the Rice Report found that the Magazine had been completely destroyed, the Gun Emplacement was only superficially damaged, the Director Tower had severe damage to the lower two floors, and the Engine Room was structural sound but without fittings. War accommodation was reported as being intact but without fittings. The Searchlight Emplacements were intact, but without any fittings. The Searchlights were in pieces and badly weathered. They were considered not to be of any value.
Ladang was never re-armed, and passed into history.
Ladang on Google Earth. Ladang is today on MINDEF land and is not accessible to the general public.