Fort Siloso in Singapore
Fort Siloso (Chinese: 西乐索炮台) is the sole restored coastal gun battery from the twelve such batteries which made up "Fortress Singapore" at the start of World War II. Siloso comes from the word Seloso, a Filipino word meaning jealous person.
The Fort is situated on the resort island of Sentosa, restored as a military museum, and open for public visit.
The word Siloso is derived from a Malayan word meaning rock ( Sanskrit root : Sila ). There was a huge rock at the mouth of Singapore's harbour which was very dangerous to shipping. With trade flourishing in Singapore due to the Suez Canal in 1869, it was necessary to protect Singapore's port. Based on the report by Major Edward Lake of the Madras Engineers, a fort was built at Blakang Mati (Sentosa) in 1874. As part of the fortification, Mount Siloso's top was blown off to flatten it for a gun platform. By the 1880s, gun batteries were installed on Mount Siloso and Mount Serapong on Sentosa.
By the 1880s, Fort Siloso had 7-inch RML guns and two 64-pounders. In the 1890s, five 10-inch guns were installed. These guns were operated electrically from the a underground power-house. In the 1930s, a twin 6-pounder, quick-firing anti-torpedo boat guns, five searchlights, an Operational Tower, two machine-guns and two twin Lewis anti-aircraft machine guns were added due to reports of impending war. The Fort was manned by the British Royal Artillery and the Singapore Artillery Corps.
World War II
As the artillery was built to defend the land against sea invasion from the south, during World War II, the Fort's guns were turned 180 degrees inland to defend against land invasion by the Japanese Army in the west. The Fort's guns were fired at Japanese positions and troops who were advancing toward the city from Tengah Airfield. However, British and local troops, retreating from the overrun Pasir Laba Battery who were heading back to British lines via sea, were also fired upon as they were mistaken as the enemy. This building is now known as the Surrender Chambers and has a vivid portrayal of the scenes of British and Japanese surrender with actual footage of the war being played interactively. This is on the upper storey, the ground floor has been turned into a souvenir shop. During the Japanese Occupation, the Fort was used as a prisoner-of-war camp.
Post World War II
After the Japanese surrendered, the Royal Navy occupied the Fort in 1946, and its guns were manned by the 1st Malay Coast Battery and the Royal Artillery. Gurkha Detachments took over manning the guns when the Royal Artillery were withdrawn and the 1st Malay Coast Battery were disbanded. Fort Siloso was manned by the 10th Gurkha Rifles to prevent Indonesian saboteurs from landing on Sentosa and Keppel Harbour during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation between 1963 - 1965, when Singapore was part of Malaysia.
Later, Fort Siloso became a Catholic Retreat centre for British forces until Sentosa was handed over to the Singapore Government with the withdrawal of British forces in 1967. Fort Siloso then came under the command of the Singapore Armed Forces.
Fort Siloso has been converted into a military museum in 1974, displaying its history and guns. Other coastal guns from different parts of Singapore have been brought here for display. It had previously held the display of the British Surrender.