Authority for the commencement of the work on Fort Silingsing was given in a War Office Letter of 2nd September 1897. The List of Approved Armaments for the Straits Settlements, corrected to 1st January 1898, stated there were no armaments at Silingsing, but two 12 Pounder 12 cwt QF Guns were noted under ‘Alterations approved or proposed’. The two guns were manufactured at the Armstrong Works, Elswick in 1895 & 1997 respectively.
The 1st January 1899 List showed that the two 12 Pounders at Silingsing Battery were at the emplacement, but also stated that they were, “Dismounted in R.A. care”. By this, I think we can take it that the emplacements were complete with perhaps the pivot mounting in place, but the guns themselves were in store. The date of completion of the Emplacement was 8th July 1899. The cost of building the emplacement was given as £1,266.
The Shell Store held 1000 Common Pointed Shells with 1,000 Fuzes Percussion. That is to say, the shells would explode on impact. In the Cartridge Store were 1,000 Cartridges.
In 1907, the Committee on the Armaments of Defended Ports Abroad, presided over by General Sir J.F. Owen, recommended the emplacement of two Mark VII 6 Inch BL Guns at Silingsing on the site of the 12 Pounder Battery. Similar guns would go to Siloso. In the end, both Batteries only got the older Mark II 6 Inch QF Guns. By September 1907, the 12 Pounders would seem to have been removed, and two Mark II 6 Inch QF Guns on Mark I Mountings were noted as being additions to the Battery. These two guns were to be transferred from Fort Connaught which was also undergoing change. The 6 Inch QF Guns became operational between August 1910 and July 1911.
In his report of August 1924, Lt. Colonel Brackner C.R.A. does not refer to the Silingsing guns, only the searchlights, saying, “The Searchlights at SILOSO and SILINGSING, whilst retaining their present positions, will it is hoped, be replaced by more powerful lights of later pattern”.
General Sir Webb Gillman in his report of 1927, mentions that:
......on Pulao (sic) Brani, The existing armament consists of a pair of 6-inch guns on 15° mountings at Siling Sling (sic), and two defence electric lights”.
He recommended that the left-hand Battery Commander’s Post be removed as it prevented the guns from firing into the harbour. He also suggested that a surplus PF Cell on Blakang Mati might be remodelled to use for the Silingsing Battery. The left-hand BC Post was demolished in 1929.
In a meeting at Fort Canning on 26th February 1935, Major General F.W. Barron observed that there were, “2 -6” 15° and D.E.Ls. at SILINGSING”. The Mark of gun at that time is not known, but they most likely were the two QF Guns mounted around 1910/11.
LEFT: The No.1 Emplacement post war.
The photo shows that the emplacement was not completely rebuilt during the 1930s. The old QF Magazine is below the ventilators. The overhead splinter cover on the emplacements will have been added during 1941.
There is evidence that Fort Silingsing went to war with two Mark VII 6 Inch BL Guns on Mark II CPMs. Presumably the Fort was up rated along with the rest of the Keppel Harbour defences during the 1930s.
Evidence I have indicates that the battery still used Ladder and Band Hoists to raise ammunition from the Magazine. If so, it is almost certain that the mechanism will have been updated to electric motors.
An Operational Instruction dated 3rd September 1939 stated:
“Owing to the present international situation, War may be expected to be declared against Germany very shortly. No information is available as to the proximity of the potential enemy forces” ...... “50% of gun floor recesses will be filled”.
On 8th December 1942 Faber War Diary records at 0200 from HQ Fixed Defences:
“Japanese are now attempting to land at KOTA BAHRU and are being engaged by our forces”.
Faber Command Operations War Diary records that Silingsing was neither bombed or shelled. It also records that, no sea targets appeared in the batteries zone. In addition it states the no ammunition was expended on land targets. The Battery was spiked at 1815 on the 14th February 1942 after false reports of Japanese forces landing at Teregah.
I know of no remains of the battery on the surface, but the magazine may remain underground. Access to the area is not possible.
Fort Silingsing on Google Earth.