Fort Serapong was built by the British army in 1879, atop a hillock called Mount Serapong on Pulau Blakang Mati (now resort island of Sentosa). It was modernised a few times, the last being in the 1930s. Serapong is a huge network of batteries, tunnels, underground rooms, lookout posts, supporting buildings and even its own water collection system. Essentially a self supporting defence post.
Two gun batteries were built on the top of Mount Serapong, but there was a military presence here years before a coast battery was constructed. The hill was then an infantry redoubt. The first Battery, in 1885 consisted of two Mark VII 8-Inch BL Guns. These were replaced in 1913 by two Mark X 9·2-Inch BL Guns. Some remains of the 8-Inch Battery still exist, including the Casemates and Magazine. These were later modified and used for the 9.2-Inch Battery, of which substantial remains exist.
All over the site, you can see danger signs telling you to keep out as the structures and ground is unstable. We watched our footing carefully as we explored the area. We managed to spot many abandoned structures and gun placements / turrets. Most of the fort seems to have been reclaimed by nature.
During WWII, Serapong saw little action. Serapong was used to fire on ships in the harbour only a few times, before itself, along with other forts and batteries were shelled and damaged by the Japanese. Here are some examples of underground structures, rooms, and bathrooms that once seerviced the soldiers during WWII.
A third Mark X 9·2-Inch BL Gun was emplaced on The Spur of Mount Serapong in 1913. This location is the first you reach when going up Serapong Hill Road. The surface area of this Battery was later much modified for a 6-Inch BL Gun, but parts of it remain on the surface. The magazine still exists and this was later used for the 6-Inch Gun. Two Mark VII 6-Inch Guns. The emplacement was built on Serapong Spur with the No.2 Gun being sited in the old Serapong Spur 9·2-Inch Emplacement. The No. 1. Gun was sited a little further up hill. Substantial remains still exist.
When the British forces surrendered, all the batteries were abandoned. Some of the guns were destroyed by the British just before they withdrew. But what happened to the batteries during Japanese Occupation I believe isn’t clear. Now Serapong is like a ruin, complete forgotten, save for some people who know of it’s existance.
The role of Fort Serapong was to protect the Singapore Port. As we reached the summit of the hill, we were greeted by a beautiful view of Singapore’s city skyline and PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) from Mount Serapong. A great day out for the four of us – thanks Adrian and Joel for the fantastic company!
For a detailed thesis on Fort Serapong, click here.