During a 1923 survey for potential sites for fixed armaments, direct fire and indirect fire, to protect the planned Naval Base, the Changi area was one of several areas of Singapore surveyed. From being a quiet corner in the north-east of Singapore, Changi was to change out of all recognition.
Report No.2 Coast Defence Reconnaissance.
By Lt. Colonel Brackner C.R.A. (Commander Royal Artillery), 24th August 1923.
Natural clearing W. of BEDOK Road. Might do for heavy concealed battery, but very low and probably too wet ........
(CHANGI Road - about 9½ milestone). Fair concealed positions for heavy - 15" batteries here just off the main road. Ground pretty high and firm.
¾ mile inland. Concealed from sea by low crests and trees. Air cover not too good. Ground gives no protection against hostile fire.
Psns “c ”and “d”. (Location unknown)
More rather “open field” positions, rather similar to “b”........
Fair indirect fire position, general line of fire S.E. High ridge, just south of TAMPINES Road about 12¾ mile stone.
Concealed from the sea by a good crest (CHANGI Rd.) ........ Plenty of room for two 15" guns, well apart ........ Rather far inland - about 1½ miles - with consequent loss of range.
Good “reverse slope” position astride of road. (TAMPINES Rd. About 13th milestone)........ Well concealed. 1¼ mile inland.
Other areas looked at for Indirect Fire positions, were Pasir Ris, Pasir Ris Road and the Tampines areas.
On the 18th September 1924, Lt. Colonel Brackner Reported:-
Sites for 15 inch guns East coast.
I fully agree with C.R.E. (Commander Royal Engineers) that tactical and technical qualities be equal - it is obviously desirable to interfere as little as possible with the colonies of seaside bungalows along the coast ...... As regards the positions suggested by C.R.E. -
“300 yards south-east of the 10th milestone” (CHANGI Road).
This more or less coincides with the area indicated by my positions “b” and “c” in my original report. I therefore agree ....... I think the best position for the guns would be 200 yards or 300 yards behind positions given by CRE on gentle reverse slope, giving slightly better flash cover and the close to existing main road. There is “not much in it”.
“Just South of 13th milestone” (CHANGI ROAD).
Compared with my position “c”, in my original report:-
Position chosen by C.R.E. is rather high, as marked on the map, and flash cover from screen of trees is not so good to S.E., as position “e”. More clearing is required.
I think best positions for guns would be further back, on reverse slope ........ I see no necessity for siting the emplacements on the absolute crest, with “anti-bombardment” guns of this type, so long as the ground is firm.
With this proviso, I am inclined to accept C.R.E.’s position, as an alternative to “e”.
“Just East of AYER GEMEROH”
This position - chosen by C.R.E. as his third position, if such is required - is a forward slope ........ In rubber. Road connecting to CHANGI ROAD poorish , but could easily be improved.
Has one advantage a gain of range (to S.E.) of 1500 yards, as compared with my position “g” (vide original report), and about 700 yards - scarcely worth considering - as compared with “b”, “c”, “e”, etc. A Chinese house at (WING LOONG) would be untenable.
On October 5, 1925, Lt. Colonel Brancker wrote.
I have carried out further reconnaissance and have selected an additional site for one 15” gun as under.
1. SEMBAWANG position. (one gun)
About 100 yards due S. of 12½ milestone CHANGI Road. High, firm ground, close to main road. In rubber on gentle reverse slope screen from sea by trees about ¾ of a mile inland.
2. In the event of four 15” guns having to be sited singly in the eastern area, I suggest the following positions:-
(1) One gun, BEE HOE position:- towards Northern extremity of this position, about 100 yards S.E. of 13th milestone.
(2) One gun, SEMBAWANG position-about 100 yards S of 12½ milestone
(3) One gun, WING LOONG position - towards Northern extremity of this position, on reverse slope, about 300 yards N.W. of Ayer GEMEROH and 150 yards S of WING LOONG ROAD
4. One gun, MATA IKAN position:- towards Southern extremity of this position, on reverse slope, about 100 yards south-east of 9¾ milestone.
(Above positions would be about 1600 yards apart)........
3. It would be advisable - if this has not already been done - to ascertain definitely from W.O. the minimum elevation at which the 15” guns are liable to be called upon to fire.
This depends, of course, on two factors:- (1) The minimum range at which the 15” are expected to engage targets.
(2) The employment, or otherwise, of reduced charges. (Reduced charges are, I believe , being considered, but I do not know whether a decision has been reached).........
15" Positions - Eastern Area.
(As proposed by G.S.O., C.R.A., C.R.E., in conference).
1. BEE HOE position.
(Just South of 13th milestone; CHANGI ROAD).
Good, firm, high ground close to main CHANGI ROAD, mostly rubber, some cocoanut. TELOK BHARU ROAD runs past proposed position ........ No difficulty in finding suitable emplacements for two 15 inch guns, well apart. Indirect fire.
Much on a par with position “e”, and preferred to it as less likely to interfere less with Bungalow settlement at TELOK PAKU and BETING KUSAH, from blast when firing.
2. MATA IKAN position.
(S.E., of 10th Milestone; CHANGI ROAD).
Again firm, high Road of main CHANGI ROAD. In cocoanut groves. About ½ a mile inland. Screened from sea by trees. Ground slopes gently down to road in rear. Track from main road past position. Much on a par with positions “b” and “c” in original report. Plenty of room for two 15” guns. Indirect Fire.
3. WING LOONG position.
Behind crest, on gentle reverse slope. In rubber. Screened from sea by crest and trees. South of WING LOONG ROAD - poor road but could easily be improved. No difficulty in finding room for two 15” guns; Indirect Fire. About half a mile inland. No difficulty in finding room for two 15 inch guns. Indirect fire. WING LOONG’S HOUSE and another house on crest would be untenable. Some of bungalows at TANAH MERAH BESAR would suffer from blast, if firing carried out to N. or N.E., but firing in this direction might be avoidable in peace time. Much on a par with position “g” in original report except that bungalows at TANAH MERAH BESAR might suffer less when firing S.E. (a likely direction) than in the case of g, and then there is a gain of range to S.E. of about ¾ of a mile. No gain of range when firing due E. This position is on the whole, preferable to “g”, for the above reasons.
C.R.E. does not anticipate any difficulty with railway approaches to the positions.