Fort Siloso

Image (C) AZphotograohy Zanie

Grim reminder to Singaporeans of the need for total defence of Singapore - lack of this brought the greatest military disaster in the history of the British Empire in 1942. Blakang Mati was the old name of


,  south of Singapore. 

After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869


In the 1880s there were 7 inch RML guns and two 64 pounders; electromagnetic mines were also laid across the narrow Straits and the electricity for them was supplied by an underground power house. In the 1890s five 10 inch guns were installed and the power house was extended to provide electricity to operate these guns. During the 1930s further additions were made; these included a twin 6 pounder, quick-firing anti-torpedo boat guns, five search-lights , a Director Tower, an Operational Tower, two machine-guns and two twin Lewis anti-aircraft machine-guns.

Close to the Tower is the site form where a powerful searchlight beamed across the Straits at the besieged house (in Alexandra) of the British Commander of the mutinous 5th Light Infantry on 15th and 16th February 1915. The search-light prevented the mutineer from attacking the house under cover darkness.

The Fort based in Sentosa was manned by the Singapore Artillery Corps and the British Royal Artillery.

The Japanese Imperial Army began its invasion of Malaya on 8th December 1941 and by 31 January, 1942 the entire Malay Peninsula had fallen into their hands. The invasion of Singapore began on 8 February 1942 and Fort Siloso also came under Japanese attack. A Japanese supply ship was sunk by the Fort's guns in February 1942. The heavy caliber guns were swung 180 degrees to fire over the island on Japanese positions and against the Japanese when they advanced on the city from Tengah Airfield. The guns were also used to demolish the oil tanks in Pulau Bukom and Pulai Sebarok when the fall of Singapore was imminent.

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942-1945)

- Fort Siloso was used as a prisoners-of-war camp.

When the British returned to Singapore after the Japanese Surrender in September 1945,

 - Fort Siloso was occupied by the Royal Navy in 1946 and its guns were manned the 1st Malaya Coast Battery and the Royal Artillery which was eventually disbanded and the Gurkha Detachment took over.

During the undeclared war by Indonesia against Malaysia and Singapore was part of it (1963-1965) Fort Siloso was used by the 10th Gurkha Rifles to prevent Indonesian saboteurs landing on Blakang Mati and Keppel Harbour.

- Fort Siloso became a Catholic retreat for British forces until the island was given up by the British in 1967 and taken over by the Singapore Armed Forces.

Today Fort Siloso has become the repository for the various guns of Singapore,  a gun museum and a permanent exhibition of its history.

- Fort Siloso is a grim reminder to Singapore of the fall of Singapore to the Japanese and the need for the Republic of Singapore to have a strong and viable Singapore Armed Forces and Civil Defence.