ABOVE: A Plan of the 8-Inch Battery Overlaid on a 1950 Aerial Photo of Mount Serapong.The white rectangle where the No.2 Gun is shown was a saluting battery of four 25-Pounders. A photo of this battery in action is in the Serapong 9·2-Inch Battery section.
The first military presence on Mount Serapong was an Infantry Redoubt. Sir William Drummond Jervois, Governor of the Straits Settlements 1875-1877, recommended its construction in 1876. Sir William had been with the Department of Fortifications at the War Office in England before becoming Governor. He pointed out to the British Government that there was some 70,000 tons of coal in Singapore and precious little coastal defence to protect it. In order to create the Redoubt, much of the primary jungle on Mount Serapong had to be cleared. This was done by using prisoners from India as the work force.
In 1885 Plans were drawn up to install a new two gun 8-Inch BL Gun Battery on the top of Mount Serapong. Fort Tanjong Katong was also to be up rated from its three 7-Inch RML Guns to two 8-Inch BL Guns. The 8-Inch BL Gun was not a standard British coastal artillery gun, and these four guns were to be the only 8-Inch BL land based guns in the British Empire. Due to delays with fittings, it was to be 1887 before the guns were ready for service and the Serapong Battery came into service.
On 5th February 1887, the Governor, Sir Frederick Weld, wrote in a memorandum to a secret report to the Colonial Office in London,“.....moreover Serapong fort is now strong enough to resist any but a very determined attack”.
At nearby Berhala Reping, two 6-Pounder Rapid Firing Gun emplacements were constructed. The photograph on the right shows one of the two surviving 8 Inch Gun Barrels. This one belongs to the Royal Artillery Museum in London. The other is on Display at Fort Siloso.
LEFT: The Casemates in 2005.
RIGHT: The Staircase on the left of the Casemates. The Lamp Room is at the foot of the stairs.
LEFT: The Casemates as planned. The Lamp Room was where all the oil lamps used in the Casemates and Magazine were kept and maintained. The staircase on the right led to the No.1 Gun Emplacement. This and the path on the gun side were cleared during the 2006 archaeological survey and dig in the area.
The Magazine (Cartridge and Shell Stores) as seen today differ from the plans shown on the left at the top of the page. There were only two storage rooms, not four as shown in the plan. It would seem that the the plans were altered before construction as a later Provisional Record Plan for the Battery, shows only two rooms, with the nearest to the Casemates being the Shell Store. A Section C.R.A. (Commander Royal Artillery) area had also been added at the end of the Cartridge Store. By comparing these plans and what is seen today, The Section C.R.A. area was destroyed when the Shell Store for the later 9.2-Inch Battery was constructed.
LEFT: Inside a Casemate chamber. The ventilation shaft at the top was probably a 1930s addition.
RIGHT: Looking out chamber. Outside are members of the 2006 archaeological survey team.
LEFT: Centre left, outlined is the original entrance, believed to have been bricked up post-war.
RIGHT: The steel stuttered hatch at floor level was made for the 9.2-Inch Battery.
The Magazine was further altered for the later 9.2-Inch Battery, so it is different to the original one.
Each gun emplacement had its own Expense Ammunition Store. This was used to store shells and cartridges close to the guns to be readily accessible.
LEFT: The archaeology team digging on the No.2 Expense Ammunition Store. The Shell Store is left.
RIGHT: The Cartridge Store.
A brilliant drawing of the 8-Inch Emplacement by Aaron Keo.
The No.1 Gun is on the right and Expense Ammunition Stores are by each gun. Two Infantry Redoubts are to the left and the top left, and a wire fence surrounds the Battery. Just above the Casemates and to the right is a Signalling Post. Here a Heliograph would have sent messages to other places on Blakang Mati. My father served in India during the 1930s. They still used Heliographs there. He said that a signal could be sent across India within half-an-hour