Fort Siloso, Sentosa Island
Located on Sentosa Island (originally known as Pulau Blakang Mati), Fort Siloso is the last remaining inactive coastal gun battery in Singapore. During the late 1800s, trade in Singapore began to boom and as a result it was deemed necessary that the port be defended in case of incoming attacks. Subsequently, in 1878, Fort Siloso was constructed and over the coming decades was fitted out with a number of guns, anti-torpedo boat guns, searchlights and an operational tower.
In the lead up to World War II, senior military leaders were certain that if Singapore was to be attacked, it would be from the south, by sea. Thus, the forts along the south coast, including Fort Siloso, were heavily armed with weapons and men from the British Royal Artillery and the Singapore Artillery Corps. When the Japanese did invade Singapore in February 1942 they in fact came from the north, a position that left large portions of the country unprotected. To assist, the guns at Fort Siloso were turned 180 degrees inland to attack the approaching Japanese. Unfortunately, amongst the confusion of war local and British troops retreating from the frontline were also accidently fired upon from Fort Siloso.
After the occupation, the Japanese used Fort Siloso as a Prisoner of War Camp for the remainder of the war. When the Japanese were forced to surrender three years later, they instead were imprisoned at Fort Siloso by the Allied forces. Over time, the fort was once again repaired and re-equipped with materials from various other forts around the Southeast Asian region and reinstated as a military defence post. In 1956 the British Army disbanded the Coastal Artillery unit and a number of the guns were removed and sold on. For 11 years after, Gurkha detachments operated at the fort, including during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation where there was a threat of attack from Indonesian saboteurs. In 1967, Fort Siloso was returned to the Singapore Armed Forces after independence was established.
With less threat of invasion or attack, Fort Siloso was converted into a military museum in 1974. Visitors could walk around the grounds of the fort and observe the remaining guns, some which had been brought in from other parts of coastal Singapore for display purposes. Nowadays, after further restoration and upgrading, Fort Siloso showcases the largest collection of World War II memorabilia in Singapore.
As well as touring the tunnels, structures and mounted guns that make up the fort grounds, interactive exhibitions document Fort Siloso’s past, its role in the occupation of Singapore, how soldiers spent their time there and what POWs endured while imprisoned within the fort. Films, multimedia shows (‘the booming 6-inch gun’), photographs and life-size models depicting important historical moments enable visitors to fully immerse themselves in the narrative of the fort and reflect upon its significance as a military heritage site.