Did you know that Labrador Nature Reserve contains many historical relics from World War II and earlier, left behind by the British? Fort Pasir Panjang is a former defence battery located within the Labrador Park Nature Reserve, constructed to defend the western entrance to Keppel Harbour. It was one of the eleven coastal artillery forts built by the British in the 19th century to defend Singapore’s waters.
Between 1864 and 1878, concrete bunkers, underground tunnels, gun batteries, two gun emplacements each mounted with a 7 inch muzzle loading gun, a landing site, a gateway with portcullis and a road connecting the two gun emplacements were built and embedded on the coastal cliffside.
These are a couple of the last remaining World War II pillboxes in Singapore. Pillboxes are small concrete fortified structures built as machine gun placements. The existing pillboxes at Labrador Nature Reserve were two of several built to protect the 12 pounder guns located on the nearby hilltop, all facing south. Within the these gun posts were search lights and barbed wires to provide protection for the soldiers manning them. Although the two guns have been removed, their positions are still visible by the two large dome-shaped cemented areas.
The Wall of Brick Cutting at Fort Pasir Panjang refers to the remains of the wall of the old fort. Constructed in 1886, the stone-faced sea wall served as the entrance to Fort Pasir Panjang where ammunition and garrison supplies were transported to the fort from a nearby landing pier at Berlayer Point. It is over 6 feet high and had 9-foot iron gate spanning the two brick walls. Beyond this gate was a 15-foot deep moat that could only be crossed via a 10-foot drawbridge. This gate was the only way to get into the fort.
Built in 1886, the tunnel connects the underground ammunition storerooms to the Gun Emplacement located directly above it. The tunnel features an enlarged chamber allowing two way human traffic before splitting into two. One leads to the cartridge store room and hoist area and the other leads to the shell store room and hoist area.
A casemate is typically a protective concrete structure inside which a gun is mounted and it shelters the gun from enemy fire. Interestingly, this particular casemate was not constructed to protect any gun. Instead it served as an ammunition store. It also acted as a shelter for the gunners and infantry stationed at the Fort. The Casemate has four rooms and one of the rooms led to a tunnel to the underground store room.
It is a common belief that the guns were pointing in the wrong direction during the war and saw little action. Apparently this was not true as all the guns at Fort Pasir Panjang can be traversed. During the war the 6” QF Gun could be traversed 270⁰ and were used on many occasions. On February 12th 1942, these guns fired on and sank a Japanese ammunition ship near St Johns Island. These guns also destroyed the oil tanks at P. Bukom to prevent them falling into enemy hands. And last but not least, they were used to assist the 1st Malay Brigade fighting the Japanese 18th Div at the Battle of Pasir Panjang.