7 Inch RML and 6 Pounder QF Batteries

Extract from records

Proposal from Sir A. Clark, Inspector General of Fortifications
From ‘Defence of Coaling Stations 1894’

An early recommendation for the Fort Passeir Panjang was for it to have been armed with two 64 pounder RML guns of 64Cwt. This was later changed to two 7 inch RML guns. It was with the 7 inch RML guns that the fort became operational.

Plan for 6 Pounder emplacementMuch of the 7 Inch battery has been destroyed or modified for other weaponry. However, there is still some evidence of its existence remaining today. This is where the No.4 gun once was. The No.3 gun emplacement was destroyed and replaced by the later 6 inch QF battery.

It should be noted that the plan shown right, differs slightly from the final construction of the first 6 pounder emplacement. This 6 pounder gun was designated as the No.5 gun of the Passeir Panjang Battery.

Extract from correspondenceLEFT: An extract from ‘Correspondence Relating to the Incidence of Cost of Improved Defence Works at Singapore’, August 1896. After many complaints about the 7 inch RML guns, it had finally been decided to remove them and replace them with much more effective armament.

Approved Armaments listDespite the decision, the wheels of the War Office rotated exceedingly slowly. On the right is an extract from the List of Approved Armaments of January 1898. The sole 7 inch RML was still mounted. Two 6 inch QF Guns were to be introduced as additions to the battery, and the remaining 7 inch RML was to be removed. The 6 pounder QF gun wasn't listed, but it was still there. It was to be 1900 before the 6 inch QF guns were listed as being mounted. By that time, the superior Mark VII 6 inch BL gun had entered service with the Royal Artillery.

In the last half of 1899, plans were drawn up to modify the the No.4 7 inch emplacement for a second 6 pounder QF gun. The plans were actioned, and the emplacement was modified into what can be seen today. The 6 pounder shows as being mounted in Approved Armaments of 1902. This gun was moved from Batu Berlayar. All that remains on the 7 inch emplacement are the magazine and two ammunition recesses. These are the two at each end of the emplacement.

There were recommendations that the two 6 Pounder QF Guns be replaced by the more effective 12 pounder QF gun. I can find no confirmation that this was actually done. 12 pounders do not appear on any list of Approved or Mounted Armaments up to 1914. None are listed as even being in Singapore.

A Bit of a Mystery

Plan of the passage and chamberLEFT: Close to where the No.3 gun of the Passeir Panjang Battery (the right hand 7 inch RML gun) was, is a short tunnel with a small chamber at its end. It is situated close to the left side of the later 6 inch QF battery emplacement. The chamber has not as yet been investigated as access is not allowed, so its purpose can only be guessed at. Fortunately, the gated entrance was left open at one time, and a person was able to enter and take some photos.

Left side of the 6 inch emplacementABOVE: The passage leads to a point under the left-hand side of the 6 inch emplacement and to the right of the light coloured patch on the wall.

The entrance passageLooking backSealed Doorway?
ABOVE LEFT: The entrance to the passage.
ABOVE CENTRE: Looking back towards the entrance.
ABOVE RIGHT: The end of the passage with the chamber to the left. An ammunition hatch is in the wall of the chamber.

At the end of the passage, just past the ammunition hatch, there is what may be a sealed doorway. If it is a sealed doorway, did this lead to the 7 inch RML Emplacement? The ammunition hatch in the wall of the chamber would be ideally situated to pass cartridges out to men servicing the gun. The hatch is numbered ‘50’. A rather large number for the size of the Passeir Panjang Battery.

Entrance to the chamberThe chamberVentilation shaft
ABOVE LEFT: The entrance to the chamber is on the right.
ABOVE CENTRE: Inside the chamber. The ammunition hatch in the far wall leads out to the passage.
ABOVE RIGHT: Ventilation or Hoist shaft.

The chamber is very small and certainly would not hold very much. With its hatches in the walls, and not at floor level, it is reminiscent of a small cartridge store. A shell store would almost certainly have a hatch at floor level.

The vertical shaft at the top right of the passage seems rather large for a ventilation shaft, but a good size for a hoist shaft. If it was a ventilation shaft, why have it off a little side passage? Why not from the roof of the main passage? The short passage would make a working area for men servicing a hoist. I believe that this makes a good case for it being a hoist shaft and not a ventilator.

If it was a hoist shaft, did it go to a 7 inch RML emplacement, or to the later 6 inch QF emplacement? I favour the 7 inch emplacement. The shaft in the passage is to the left of the left-hand 6 inch gun well, placing it well beyond the extent of the magazine. The most recent plans that I have for the 6 inch magazine, show it to be similar to the 6 inch QF magazine on Mount Siloso, and 6 inch QF magazines that I've seen in England. The plans do however, show an additional underground chamber to the right of the emplacement. The purpose of this, I do not know. All in all, another little mystery to solve.

Batteries & Defences