Changi in 1967. The location of the Beting Kusah Battery is arrowed.
The first reference I have found concerning Beting Kusah as a location for a gun battery is in the C.R.A’s (Commander Royal Artillery) report, “Singapore - Coast Defence Reconnaissance - Eastern Area” dated 15th November 1924. Lt. Colonel Brackner, the C.R.A. noted, “Good arc of view, including P. TEKONG BESAR (part), KUALA SANTI (In Johor beyond P. Tekong), JOHORE POINT and HILL, and some of the Dutch islands, but useless for light guns for close defence of Eastern Strait as such guns would require to use Auto-Sights, and these necessitate height”. The location seems to have been ignored on General Sir Webb Gillman’s ‘Report of the Singapore Commission’ in 1927.
LEFT: A 1920s map of the Beting Kusah area.
In 1936, Major General Barron, in his report noted, “The only other possible sites for a 6” 15° battery are at PENGERANG and BETING KUSAH, and I have decided that, on tactical grounds, the latter, although involving more expense - the purchase of 40 acres of land - must be accepted”.
The Appendix of the report said, “As regards Beting Kusah, a battery at this point with approved D.E.Ls. (Defence Electric Lights) , could take its part in the defence of the main channel ..........”. He also suggested that as the battery would be at such a low level, two Depression Range Finders, one for each gun could be provided, “on top of a tower to be built in rear of the battery”.
RIGHT: Map of the Changi area in 1941, showing the location of the coast batteries.
When constructed, the Beting Kusah Battery was armed with the 6-Inch Guns recommended by General Barron. These were mounted on Mark II Centre Pivot Mounts. With the Battery being practically at sea level, the gun Trunnion Level being 18 Feet (5·5 metres) and the Battery Observation Post 78 Feet (23.75 metres), the Magazines were constructed above ground. No overhead protection for the gunners was provided at this time. By 1941 concrete overhead cover was added to the emplacement, as it was to most 6-Inch Batteries in Singapore. The effect of the cover was to severely restrict the arc of fire of the battery. In addition, locally made steel plate extensions were added to the mounting to improve protection for the gunners.
There is no evidence in War Diaries that Beting Kusah took part in the defence of Singapore in 1942. The concrete canopies did not allow the guns to turn on the invading Japanese Forces. On the orders of the G.O.C., Lt. General Percival on 12th February, demolition work was carried out on the Battery. The CASLs, Range Finders and some other equipment were destroyed by hand, and a Captain Griffiths arrived to spike the guns. 50lb Gelignite charges were used on the guns. Shells from the No.1 Gun and the No.1 Magazine were placed round the N0.2 Gun and charges set. The men withdrew 300yards up the road The War Diary records that, “To the best of their knowledge both guns “went up””. The gunners were then withdrawn to Singapore town. Unfortunately, Captain Griffiths was not as thorough as he would have wished to be with his demolition work. The No.1 Gun was repaired by the Japanese. However, it was never used in action by them. Post-war examination showed that the No.1 Emplacement was in good condition. The No. 2 Emplacement had had the overhead cover and blast walls demolished, but the emplacement could be repaired. After the war, the No.1 Gun was moved to Fort Siloso to re-arm the Battery there. Beting Kusah was never re-armed, although it was recommended that it should be.
With the reclamation of land at Changi, the site of the Beting Kusah Battery has vanished under Changi Airport.
LEFT: The No.1 Gun. The Mk II Gun Shield has been modified by the addition of steel plate for added protection.
RIGHT: An unusual Battery Observation Post, on a metal tower.
The only other Battery Observation Post like this in Malaya was at the Cornwallis 6-Inch Battery at Georgetown, Penang.
LEFT: Demolition of the No.2 Emplacement photographed after the war.
RIGHT: A 1957 aerial photo of Beting Kusah. Remains of overhead cover are behind the No.2 Emplacement.
Location of Beting Kusah on Google Earth