Singapore Pillbox Series – Sime Road

The pillbox on Sime Road is on the left of the road just before the security barrier of Singapore Island Country Club just after Sime Hill Road and is probably one of the few that’s not located along the coastline of Singapore. This is one of my favourites as it’s set in a natural jungle surrounding and is unsealed, therefore you can enter the actual pillbox. It was nice to explore the surprisingly clean interior of the pillbox, allowing us to see and feel what it was like when it was used back in 1942.

This pillbox was supposedly built sometime before 1941 as part of the overall British defence strategy of Singapore. It was most probably part of a network of pillboxes that provided overlapping and interlocking fields of fire to defend the Combined Operations Headquarters of the British Army and Air Force at Sime Road during the Japanese Invasion of Malaysia in 1942. During the war, frequent meetings of the far East War Council, which was formed in December 1941, were held at the Headquarters.

There has been much controversy in recent years as to the location of the Combined Operations Headquarters at Sime Road. A plaque was set up by the National Heritage Board next to the pillbox to mark the site saying “The gun shelter, built sometime before 1941, defended Flagstaff House, the operational Headquarters of the British Army and Airforce during the Malayan Campaign”.

Many have criticised the authorities for putting up the plaque, as they say Flagstaff House was never in Sime Road and therefore the pillbox could not have been built before 1941 to defend the Combined Headquarters which was set up only in December 1941. The criticisms have been leveled because the history and location of the Combined Operations Headquarters were shrouded in secrecy in 1941 and with most of its occupants dead during the war, a proper account of its use has never been given. The mystery still continues to haunt researchers as a majority of documents relating to the combined headquarters were destroyed in the fall of Singapore.

Other posts in this series:

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