WWII – Near where I am living in Singapore (Where is Singapore?) is Fort Canning Hill. It is not a very tall hill, less than 160′ in height. A fort was completed on top of the hill in 1861 to defend the harbor. In the early 1900s, the fort was torn down and a 30-room bunker system dug into the hill. The bunker complex was completed in 1938. The bunker served as the headquarters for the British during the defense of Singapore. After the British surrendered to the Japanese, they used the bunker system as well.
Today, Fort Canning Hill has become Fort Canning Park and the bunker system opened in 1992 as the tourist attraction, “The Battlebox”. About the only things left from the old fort are the entrance and one of the old cannons.
As it turns out, the park is a short walk from our apartment in Singapore. I walked over there a short time ago and purchased tickets for the Battlebox tour and spent a little time wandering around the park. The park is 180,000 square meters (a little less than 0.07 square miles).
There are several walking trails through the park and as with everything in Singapore, it is very green.
While walking through the park makes you feel like you are outside the city, you are in the center of southern Singapore.
My original reason for going to Fort Canning Park was to check out The Battlebox. The Battlebox is located at 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622 inside of Fort Canning Park. The tours last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets are $18 and $9 for children 7-12 (those rates are in Singapore dollars). The Battlebox is considered to be one of the top museum destinations in Singapore.
I have to say that I enjoyed the tour. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos inside the bunker itself. Above are two of the entrances to the Battlebox complex. As you might expect, the bunker was much cooler than the outside air. Temperatures in Singapore during the day typically range 80-90F. The humidity though is usually around 60% or higher. It was a pleasant relief to enter the bunker.
While I could not take photos, I did find that were photos of the Battlebox without restrictions for use via Google search. I am including some of those above to show what the bunker currently looks like. Several manikins are in place in uniforms of 1942. Several are made up to closely represent the officers that were present just before Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese.
The surrender of Singapore to the Japanese so early in World War II (February 15, 1942) was a great blow to the British. With the surrender, 120,000 men – the largest capitulation in British military history – became prisoners of war.
If you are ever in Singapore and have a couple of hours to spare, I recommend taking the Battlebox tour.
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If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.
See my other Food & Locations articles