12-Pounder at Siloso Point
Malay Gunner leaning on a gun barrel

Malay Gunner
1950s

Japanese POW with an RN OfficerFort Siloso continued to serve the Japanese as a POW Camp until the end of the war. Both military personnel and civilian being incarcerated there.

Following the Japanese surrender, Fort Siloso returned to British occupancy. In September that year, it was initially re-occupied by men of the Royal Navy. Japanese soldiers themselves now found themselves prisoners of war at the Fort (right). Their conditions of imprisonment being a lot more pleasant, and the food being more plentiful, than when they were in charge.

In March 1946, the 1st Malay Coast Battery RA came to Blakang Mati. Undamaged equipment from other gun batteries in Singapore was brought in to re-equip the Fort. This included two Mark VII 6-Inch Guns with Mark II CPM (Centre Pivot Mounting). One of these guns came from Beting Kusah and the other must have come from Labrador. Both of which batteries where the Japanese had repaired 6-Inch Guns. These were installed by August. The Fort was still without essential equipment such as Range Finders and Gun Telescopes. The overhead concrete splinter cover on the emplacement was probably demolished at this time.

Photo of a Twin 6 Pounder at the fortIn October 1947, the Training Wing of 1st Malay Coast Artillery RA came to Fort Siloso, under the command of Major G.L. Brewster. Additional equipment began arriving from elsewhere to continue in the re-equipping of the Fort.

In 1947, a Twin Six Pounder arrived at Siloso. This gun came from the Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) Breakwater. It was mounted at Siloso Point with work being completed in March 1948. The photo on the right was taken at Fort Rodd Hill in Victoria Island, British Columbia, Canada. This gun was originally mounted in Norway. Two other Twin 6-Pounders are known to survive. They overlook the Rio Tejo from the Jardim da Torre de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal.

In March REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) carried out tests of the installed 6-Inch Guns, CAPT. K. Litt, being in charge.

Harold at the gunHarold Dursley was in REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) attached to the Royal Artillery at Fort Siloso from 1947-48 during his National Service. His job at the Fort was assisting a Royal Artillery Warrant Officer (WO). Armament Artificer to carry out special wear checks on the barrel of the installed 6-Inch Guns. He believes the WO condemned a barrel at that time. As Harold says, “Not surprising as I recall that it was made in Woolwich in 1898”.

The photo on the left shows Harold (right) with the WO beside him at a 6-Inch Gun. One gun barrel, Serial No. 1349, was removed and taken to the Drill Mounting behind ‘F’ Block on the Main Square in July 1948. This was returned to Siloso in June the following year as a salvaged 6-Inch Barrel was found to replace it at ‘F’ Block. Barrel No. 1349 is recorded as having been at Beting Kusah pre-war. Map references shown in records along with the serial no. indicate that it was the No.1 Gun at Beting Kusah.

In February 1950 the 6-Inch Battery fired a Proof of Mounting, and the Twin 6 Pounder fired a Calibration. The recoil of the 6-Inch Guns was so violent that CREME (Commander REME) condemned the equipment.

Not long later, two Mark 24 6-Inch Guns with Mark V Shields were brought to Siloso and emplaced. These had been at BOD (Base Ordnance Depot) and had come from Haifa in Israel. A third gun, also from Haifa was mounted behind ‘F’ Block near the Main Square, also for training purposes. Also during 1950, A CA No.2 Mk.1 Radar arrived at Siloso and was temporarily sited alongside the BOP.

Page from Record Book
A Page from the Fort Record Book

The No.2 GunThe No 2 Gun
The No.2 Gun

The photos above, taken sometime during the 1950s, show a Mark 24 6-Inch BL Gun in the No.2 Gun emplacement . The casemates are in the foreground on the bottom photograph. The smoke in front of the gun shows that a practice shoot was in operation.

An Observation Post is shown by the arrow. This and the concrete wall behind it were demolished and the ground levelled sometime after 1954 by the British.

In 1951, Modifications were made to the 6-Inch Battery to give it, a “full role” and the magazine was renovated. A PF Cell was prepared and the engine room was moved underground. A Seawards Defence Headquarters was established at Serapong, using the radar which had been at Siloso.

A 1950s Fort Plan.

Statement on Defence 1956

In February 1956, in his Statement on Defence to Parliament, the Minister of Defence stated:-

“In the light of modern weapon developments it is clear that there is no longer any justification for maintaining Coast Artillery. The seaborne threat can be countered more effectively by the Navy and the Air Force, and other types of artillery can, if needed, be used for seaward defence. The Government has therefore decided that all existing Coast Artillery Units will either be converted to new roles by amalgamation with other units or become inactive. So far as possible, however, it will be the aim to preserve the identity of all Territorial Army Coast Artillery Regiments in some other role.”

Disbandment and After

On the disbandment of the Coastal Artillery by the British Army in May 1956, The guns were sold to local scrap dealers. Gurkha detachments manned the Fort until its return to the Singapore authorities in 1967. In that year, with the withdrawal of the British from the island, Blakang Mati was occupied by the Maritime Command of the Singapore Armed Forces. In 1972 Fort Siloso became a historical site when the Government of Singapore decided to develop Blakang Mati which was renamed as Sentosa (Island of Tranquility) for recreational purposes.

Elsewhere on Sentosa, most of Fort Connaught has been demolished with a Coralarium and later a golf course being built on the site. The Coralarium itself has vanished and the site has been extended by land reclamation which has taken in a nearby small island, the area now being called Sentosa Cove. Nearby is a Ground Satellite Station. The No. 3 Gun Emplacement and a Fire Control Tower are hidden in trees above Allenbrooke Road. Its Magazine is still accessible. The No. 1 and No. 2 Gun Emplacements can still be seen as large mounds on the golf course with a rest area having been built on the No.1 Emplacement. The Magazines for the No.1 Gun are still accessible with a little difficulty.

Berhala Reping is now no longer an island and is attached to another golf course on reclaimed land. The Director Towers and the emplacements for the two Twin 6 Pounder Quick-firing Guns still stand there. In the days after the Japanese victory, many bodies of Chinese inhabitants of Singapore were washed up near here following some of the many ‘Sook Ching’ murders perpetrated by occupying forces. On Mount Serapong can be found remains of the 8-Inch, 9.2-Inch and 6-Inch Batteries.

Substantial remains of the Mount Imbiah Battery are easily accessible, although there is no access to the magazine.