As February comes, an important date comes to mind. The fall of Singapore 81 years ago on 15 February 1942 is marked by the annual Battle for Singapore commemorative events. New heritage sites are open to the public every year and the exclusive tours are highly popular. This year, participants will get to explore the grounds of Fort Connaught through a special access tour – the first-ever since its existence in 1878.
History of Fort Connaught
Fort Connaught is one of three Forts in Sentosa built to protect the straits from pirate attacks. The other fortifications include Fort Siloso, Fort Serapong and Imbiah Battery. It used to be known as Blakang Mati East Battery and was armed with 9.2 inch guns, the second largest in Singapore.
Fort Connaught was named following the Duke of Connaught’s visit to Singapore in 1890. The fort was further enhanced in 1930s with three 9.2inch guns placed.
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What to Expect at Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour
Participants will be trekking into jungle hidden away from the eyes of the public where Fort Connaught is silently tucked away. As it is located on a hillside, the terrain is uphill and uneven. There are also many mosquitos guarding the fort.
One might be familiar with its more prominent counterpart just across the road – Fort Serapong. Both are just next to the Sentosa Golf Course and remain restricted to the public because of safety concerns.
Folks from Sentosa Development Corporation have installed ropes along the hill to ensure participants can hold them while trekking up and downhill. Danger signs have also been included for the tour to be conducted in the safest manner with a route to be followed.
Our guide – Saifullah led us on a very enriching tour on Fort Connaught with many pictures to share and myths to debunk.
A few recognisable structures remain at Fort Connaught – the battery observation post, one concrete emplacement where the gun was and the stairs leading to the underground magazine.
Battery Observation Post
The battery observation post, clearly battered from the forces of nature and time, overlooks the Eastern coast of Singapore. It has largely been left alone except for a short duration when SAF held military exercises as the walls of the battery observation post suggest.
While one might not see the fort in its original glory, you can imagine the British troops running uphill loading the 170kg ammunition onto the gun and heading into the tunnels while bombs rained around the area.
All that is left from where the huge gun was – is an empty concrete depression in the ground.
Signs of the storage spaces, bolts are littered around. We also saw huge spiders who have made their webs in the abandoned spaces. 80 years ago, this was where a last ditch attempt was made with guns pointed inland firing at the advancing Japanese troops.
As the British military retreated, they destroyed the guns at the forts adhering to the scorched earth policy.
Relive the Stories of the War Eight Decades Ago at the Battle for Singapore 2023 Tours and Events
Apart from Fort Connaught tours, embark on talks and tours of sites like Bukit Brown, Fort Canning Hill, MINT Museum of Toys, Navy Museum, Eurasian Heritage Centre, National Museum of Singapore, Changi Chapel Museum and Reflections at Bukit Chandu. More than 30 unique programmes and over 100 tour runs await!
Registrations begin at 8 February, 10 am. Response is expected to be overwhelming so do book your spots early. Sign up here.