The wrecked No.2 Gun
Pieces of a gun barrel

Pieces of the barrel of the No.1 Gun.

Johore Battery Page 4

Changi and Selarang became POW Camps for the tens of thousands of British and Australian POW. The 30,000 British in Roberts Barracks, and the 15,000 Australians in Selarang. It only took the Japanese a short while to make use of the prisoners as slave labour, and many men were moved out to other camps in Singapore, and on the the hell that was the Burma railway. In may 1943, the Japanese made a decision that was to change Changi again. They would use POW labour to build an airfield there. The POW were moved from Changi and later from Selarang to Changi Prison, and the civilians in the prison were moved to areas such as Sime Road. The first aircraft flew from the new airfield in late 1944.

Despite the intelligence report of 1944, the effectiveness of the demolition work carried at the the Johore Battery on 12th February 1942 remained much of a mystery until the return of British forces in September 1945.

In his report, ‘Singapore and Penang Coast Artillery’ of February 1946, Colonel F.W. Rice noted:-

No.s 1 and 3 pieces cut into a number of sections, No.2 piece is intact but very rusted and without breech mechanism. May be worth relining.
No.1 Mounting – Old, forward pivot type with only 180° traverse. The mounting up to the roller paths could probably be made serviceable locally.
No.2 Mounting – completely wrecked by explosion.
No.3 Mounting – removed and cut to pieces.

No.1 Emplacement 1946No.2 Emplacement 1946No.2 Emplacement 1946
The No.s 1, 2 & 3 Emplacements in 1946

1946 Aerial viewLEFT: A 1946 aerial photo of the remains of the Johore Battery. The railway track had been removed by the Japanese for scrap and the POW had built new roadways.

A massive clearing operation was required as the whole of the Changi area had live ammunition and propellant charges left in magazines and emplacements, untouched since since February 1942. The Johore Battery was never rebuilt. The guns were scrapped, but the Magazines, stripped of their machinery were left intact. The Changi area was handed over to the RAF in 1946. They were well able to make use of the airfield constructed by POW labour.

The Johore 15-Inch Emplacements remained as a visible reminder of the reason for Changi’s militarisation for some considerable time, decades in some cases. There are still some remains to this day.

The No.1 Emplacement disappeared from site in the early 1950s, when married accommodation was being built for RAF personnel. The Magazine was sealed and the Gun Well was capped, and housing built in the area, with the access roads being named Cosford Road and Abingdon Road after RAF Stations in England. The RAF also renamed other roads in the Changi Cantonment after RAF Stations in England and Scotland.

No.3 Emplacement in 1957

ABOVE: The No.3 Emplacement and Magazine in 1957. The earth in front of it has been removed to allow for a perimeter track to be laid to the west of the airfield’s runway.

No.2 Emplacement in 1957 LEFT: The No.2 Emplacement in 1957. Signs of the railway tracks are still visible to the front and right of the emplacement as you look at the photo. The Emplacement was capped and covered over a few years later. The only visible remains of the Johore Battery were then the No.3 Emplacement by the perimeter track. The battery was, to all intents and purposes, forgotten about.

When the British left Singapore in 1971, RAF Changi was handed over to the Singapore Air Force. A few years later, the No.3 Emplacement would also vanish from sight, permanently.