Aerial photo 1950
Unknown item

A fitting in the wall of the gun pit.

The No.1 Emplacement in 2006
The No.1 Emplacement during the 2006 Archaeological Survey.

Major-General F.W. Barron visited Singapore in 1935 to report on the defences of the island. He first held a meeting, on 26th February, at Fort Canning with senior officers, including the GOC, Major-General E.O. Lewin. At this meeting he outlined the objects of his visit. These included; “Whether the siting of the fixed defences produces the maximum of efficiency.” and “Additional fixed defences required for the 2nd Stage (of the upgrade of defences) and where they should be sited”. On the 11th March he reported to the GOC and senior officers. His report included a recommendation for two additional 6-Inch Close Defence Batteries to be constructed in the Keppel Harbour Area. One of these should be at Pasir Panjang (Labrador) and, “One 6” Battery on SERAPONG Spur, making use of the old 9.2” emplacements and magazines”. The 9.2-Inch BL Spur Battery was to be converted for a 6-Inch BL Gun making use of the old magazines. This was to become the No.1 Gun. The No.2 6-Inch BL Gun Emplacement and Magazine would be built 50 yards (46 meters) north-west of the Spur position. The 9.2-Inch Battery Command Post for the Spur Battery which was 50 yards north west of the new No.2 Gun would be converted to make the 6-Inch Battery Command Post.

Serapong Battery in 1939LEFT: The Serapong 6-Inch Battery in 1939. The photo was taken from a roof of a building between the No.2 Gun and the Battery Observation Post.

An edict issued in 1937 stated that all eighteen 6-Inch BL Guns and six 9.2-Inch BL Guns in Singapore were to have all round traverse. This is how the new Serapong Battery with its Mark VII 6-Inch BL Guns with their Mark II 15° Centre Pivot Mountings was built. Some time later, as with most other 6-Inch Batteries, overhead semi-circular concrete splinter protection was constructed at the Serapong Emplacements.

When war came to Singapore and Malaya in 1942, the Serapong and all other coastal batteries stood ready for a seaborne attack which would never come.

On the 18th January 1942, The Serapong Battery was bombed with the No. 2 Gun and its concrete splinter cover being damaged. The gun itself was replaced. Other bombs fell elsewhere on Mount Serapong and on Fort Connaught. There is no record of the Serapong Guns firing on the advancing Japanese. The location of the battery would have prevented it firing on the Japanese advancing from the west from Pasir Panjang and Kent Ridge, but it would have been possible for it to fire eastwards towards the Kallang area. Even if the guns had taken part in the war, there is little they could have done to repel the Japanese. The ammunition, being mainly AP was totally unsuitable for counter-battery and anti-personnel fire. Mount Serapong 1950The guns however, did fire shots across the bows of ships which were inadvertently heading into the minefield protecting the harbour. At least one ship sank after straying into the minefield.

The spiked No.1 GunLEFT: The Spiked No.1 Gun in 1946.The Breech has been blown off and a piece of the barrel with it, thus rendering the gun completely useless. Blast damage to a concrete cover support can be seen on the right.

On the 14th of February 1942, came the order to destroy the guns for Mount Serapong. The No. 2 Gun destroyed first, being spiked with a gelignite charge at 1200hrs. Later, at 1700hrs its magazine was also spiked, blowing up completely, leaving a large crater and severely damaging the emplacement above and to the left of it. Five men were injured in the blast.

The No. 1 Gun remained available for action until the morning of the 15th when it,in turn, was spiked. All equipment in the Battery Command Post was also destroyed.

Underground area post-warNo.1 emplacement post-war
ABOVE LEFT: The underground area post-war.    ABOVE RIGHT: The No.1 Emplacement post-war.

The gun well before clearingThe Gun Well
ABOVE LEFT: The Gun Well before cleaning.    ABOVE RIGHT: The Gun Well after cleaning out the debris of over 60 years.

Front view of the emplacementPart of the overhead cover
ABOVE LEFT: The No. 1 Emplacement in 2006.    ABOVE RIGHT: Part of the concrete Splinter Cover.

Part of the overhead cover has collapsed and the emplacement is in a dangerous condition. If you stood in front of the Emplacement in 1942, you would have been able to see the No.2 Gun and Battery Observation Post up the hill. Some of the large stones on the glacis still retain traces of camouflage paint.

In the gun well would have been 24 long bolts buried in the concrete floor. These were used to secure the Centre Pivot Mounting of the gun assembly.

Part of the overhead cover
The Concrete Splinter Cover showing how it has deteriorated.

Other Batteries
& Defences