Sentosa fort dating back to 1870s to open for rare public tours to mark Singapore’s fall in WWII

One of three 9.2-inch gun emplacements that were added in the 1930s is among what remains at Fort Connaught. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE – Fort Connaught, a military site on Sentosa that dates back to the 1870s, will for the first time be opened in February to give the public rare access to its history.

Located at the eastern end of Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong Course, the fort saw action during World War II, reportedly firing all its ammunition at Japanese troops who were advancing in the west of mainland Singapore.

The fort’s guns were destroyed by the British before their surrender to the Japanese, and when Sentosa – formerly known as Pulau Blakang Mati – was developed for recreation, much of it was built over.

What remains today includes one of three 9.2-inch gun emplacements that were added in the 1930s, as well as what are believed to be a battery observation post and a power-generation facility, which the public will get to see during the Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour.

The 2½-hour tour, which runs for three weekends from Feb 11 and costs $20, is part of the National Heritage Board’s (NHB) annual Battle for Singapore initiative – a series of programmes to mark Singapore’s fall during World War II on Feb 15, 1942.

A battery observation post at Fort Connaught. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Mr Saifullah Kamaludin, who has worked for Sentosa Development Corporation since 2007 and currently co-leads its cultural and heritage initiatives, said during a preview on Tuesday that the tour will help set some records straight.

For instance, it is not true that Singapore’s guns were pointing the wrong way during the war.

While they did fire at the enemy, this ultimately proved to be ineffective as the forts were equipped with armour-piercing rounds to defend against attacks from the sea, instead of high-explosive rounds which would have helped to neutralise incoming ground troops, said Mr Saifullah.

He added that the tour grants special access to an otherwise restricted site that the public should not attempt to visit on their own, for their safety. A medic will be on standby during the tour.

A ventilation shaft at Fort Connaught. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Other highlights of 2023’s Battle for Singapore include a theatrical tour of Reflections at Bukit Chandu, where tour participants will engage with performers to learn about the Malay Regiment, whose soldiers famously fought a fierce battle in Pasir Panjang during the war.

At the Mint Museum of Toys, a guided tour of a WWII vintage toy collection explores the role of toys in war narratives. It will include a special feature on American General Douglas MacArthur, who presided over Japan’s surrender aboard the USS Missouri on Sept 2, 1945, which brought the war to an end.

Over at Changi Naval Base, the Republic of Singapore Navy will offer a sneak peek of the newly revamped Navy Museum, which is yet to be officially reopened.

NHB director of international and museum relations Gerald Wee said: “The fall of Singapore may have been an event from 81 years ago, but the experiences of our forefathers and the lessons learnt during that tumultuous period continue to have an important role to play in shaping our nation’s identity and charting our course ahead.”

He added that through 2023’s Battle for Singapore, the board hopes that Singaporeans will gain a deeper understanding of the nation’s WWII history and “be inspired by the spirit of resilience and solidarity of our war pioneers”.

The full list of Battle for Singapore 2023’s programmes can be found at

Registration for tours and programmes begins on Wednesday at 10am.

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