Johore 15 Inch BL Battery - Page 4

Despite the intelligence report of 1944, the effectiveness of the demolition work carried at the the Johore Battery on 12th February 1942 remained much of a mystery until the return of British forces in September 1945.

In the Johore Battery section of his report, ‘Singapore and Penang Coast Artillery’ of February 1946, Colonel F.W. Rice noted:-

No.s 1 and 3 pieces cut into a number of sections, No.2 piece is intact but very rusted and without breech mechanism. May be worth relining.
No.1 Mounting – Old, forward pivot type with only 180° traverse. The mounting up to the roller paths could probably be made serviceable locally.
No.2 Mounting – completely wrecked by explosion.
No.3 Mounting – removed and cut to pieces.

No.1 GunNo.2 GunNo.3 Emplacement
The No.s 1, 2 & 3 Emplacements in 1946

Aerial photoLEFT: A May 1946 aerial photo of the remains of the Johore Battery. The railway track had been removed by the Japanese for scrap, but the path can still be followed. The POW had been forced to built new roadways. Birdwood Camp is by the No.1 Emplacement.

A massive clearing operation was required as the whole of the Changi area had live ammunition and propellant charges left in magazines and emplacements, untouched since since February 1942. It was to be however, several years before all of the 15 inch ammunition was finally cleared from the Johore Battery. The Johore Battery was never rebuilt. The guns were scrapped, but the Magazines, stripped of their machinery were left intact. The Changi area was handed over to the RAF in 1946. They were well able to make use of the airfield the Japanese constructed using POW labour. The RAF even used Japanese POW to carry out maintenance and improvement work on the airfield. The tables were turned.

The Johore 15 Inch Emplacements remained as a visible reminder of the reason for Changi’s militarisation for some considerable time, decades in some cases. There are still some remains to this day.

The No.1 Emplacement disappeared from sight in the early 1950s, when married quarters were being built for the RAF. The Magazine was sealed, the Gun Well was capped, and housing built in the area, with the access roads being named Cosford Road and Abingdon Road after RAF Stations in England. The RAF also renamed other roads in the Changi Cantonment after RAF Stations in England and Scotland. Names such as Battery Hill Road and Quarry Road vanished into history. Barrack blocks became numbered instead of being identified by letters. The past was being erased.

Aerial photo

ABOVE: The No.3 Emplacement and Magazine in 1957. The Cartridge Store has been demolished to allow for a perimeter track to be laid to the west of the airfield’s runway.

No. 2 EmplacementLEFT: The No.2 Emplacement in 1957. Signs of the railway tracks are still visible to the front and right of the emplacement as you look at the photo. The small white patch between the Gun Well and the bottom of the photo could be the loading shaft for the Shell Store.

The Emplacement was capped and covered over a few years later. The only visible remains of the Johore Battery left then was the No.3 Emplacement by the perimeter track. The battery was, to all intents and purposes, forgotten about.

When the British left Singapore in 1971, RAF Changi was handed over to the Singapore Air Force. A few years later, the No.3 Emplacement would also vanish from sight, permanently.

Batteries & Defences