Fort Connaught was on the eastern side of Blakang Mati (Sentosa). It began life as Blakang Mati East Battery in 1878. It was armed in similar manner to Fort Siloso with three Mark I 7 Inch RML Guns of 6½ Tons and two 64 Pounder RML Guns of 64 Cwt. By 1886, the two 64 Pounders had been removed and were later replaced by two Mark IV 9·2 Inch BL Guns on Mark I Barbette Carriage. A similar gun was emplaced at Fort Siloso and two more at Fort Pasir Panjang. The 7 Inch RML Guns remained for a few more years.
Following a visit to Singapore by the Duke of Connaught in 1890, the Battery was renamed Fort Connaught in his honour. Two Mark II 6 Inch QF Guns were added to the Fort’s armament and remained there until after the Owen Committee’s report of 1907 when they were transferred to Fort Silingsing on nearby Pulau Brani.
In 1910, a Mark X 9·2-Inch Gun on a Mark V Mounting was added to the Fort’s armament. This was mounted on the central knoll of the Fort. The two Mark IVs remained in service for another two years before being removed. A 1922 plan for a proposed revision to the armament recommend adding a second Mark X 9·2 Inch Gun. This plan was not proceeded with.
During the 1930s, the Fort was disarmed and completely rebuilt and armed with three Mark X 9·2-Inch Guns on 30° Mark VII Mountings. These three guns greatly outranged the gun battery on Mount Imbiah, and the batteries on Mount Serapong. These were retired from service, with the two emplacements atop Mount Serapong filled in. A Battery Observation Post was built at the top of Mount Serapong, and a Battery Plotting Room was built deep underground into the northern side of Mount Serapong. A shaft with ladder led up from the Plotting Room to the Shell Store of the old Serapong 9·2 Inch Battery. Outside the Plotting Room, an Engine Room was built. This provided power for the Plotting Room, and the Battery Observation Post on Mount Serapong.
Fort Connaught is reported to have fired all its ammunition at the advancing Japanese during February 1942. The guns were spiked before the British surrender, rendering them useless to the conquering Japanese forces. Post war aerial photos show the three guns still facing in the general direction of the Japanese line of advance.
LEFT: A 9.2-Inch Gun at Fort Connaught circa 1941.
11.2.42: Connaught Fort (9·2” at 1430 ordered to put down concentrations of fire on to JURONG and ULU PANDAN Villages on JURONG ROAD. (Approx 36 Rds HE expended on these tasks). Enemy had reached line JURONG ROAD
12.2.42: During the afternoon further land targets on the JURONG ROAD and BUKIT TIMAH AREAS were engaged by CONNAUGHT Bty on instructions from CBO Attached III Corps. About 60 Rounds were expended on these targets many of which had been previously registered by Silent Registration.
14.2.42: At 0715 hrs B.C. Connaught destroyed N1 and N2 Guns followed at 0815 hrs by N3 Gun. The Rangefinding Instruments were destroyed at the O.P. later........
There were no events of importance to record until January 18th, when there was a heavy Air Raid on Blakang Mati and a large number of Bombs fell on Serapong Hill and in and around Connaught Fort...... Two Bombs fell very close to the O.P. on SERAPONG HILL, the splinters of one penetrating the Steel Shutters of the O.P. wounding one man inside......
...... Others fell on the roadway behind each gun causing craters, but with the exception of N.2 where two casualties occurred to men in the Gun Turret (1 killed 1 wounded). The only damage to the Guns was one broken oil pipe on N.2.
RIGHT: The wrecked No.1 Gun in 1947. Still facing the Japanese Advance.
In his 1946 report on the condition of Singapore and Penang Coast Artillery, Colonel F.W. Rice recommended the re-arming of Fort Connaught. This recommendation was never acted on. The spiked guns and equipment were removed and Fort Connaught passed into history.
When Sentosa was developed for leisure purposes, most of the Fort was demolished. No remains are left of the early fort or its various gun emplacements, magazines and buildings. They have all vanished, as indeed has most of the WWII Fort.
A lot of the land from what once was the hill on which Fort Connaught was has been removed to create the Tanjong Golf Course.
ABOVE: A 9·2 Inch Coast Artillery Gun on display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England. This particular gun was originally emplaced in Gibraltar, but is the same as those found at Fort Connaught And the Tekong Besar Battery. Centre left in the right-hand photograph is the hydraulic ram. A shell and cartridges would be brought up from the Handling Area below the gun mechanically, and the ram would be swung over to push them into the breech.
There will be a margin of error in the plots for the No.1 and No.3 Guns in the image above. The reason for this is that Google Earth being an aerial photo, does not give a proper plan perspective.