Siloso Mark VII 6-Inch Battery circa 1938
The Mark VII 6-Inch BL Battery was the third gun battery to be built on its location. The first battery being the single 9.2-Inch BL Gun. This was removed and the replacement remodelled for two Mark II 6-Inch QF Guns which were in place by 1911. The QF Battery was replaced by a Mark VII 6-inch BL Battery during the 1930s. It was these guns that went in to action in February 1942.
The Mark VII Guns had Mark IV Gun Shields. The guns could elevate to 14°, and depress by 10° and had all-round traverse. They had a range of 14,100 yards (12,893 metres) and fired a 100lb (45.4 Kilos) shell. A well trained gun crew could fire seven rounds per minute. Sometime after 1939, concrete overhead splinter protection was constructed over the guns. This had the effect of reducing the traverse and thus the arc of fire to 202° - 338°. There is some anecdotal evidence that part of the Splinter Cover was demolished to increase the arc of fire of the guns to enable them to fire on the advancing Japanese as they closed on Singapore Town. As yet, I have no firm evidence that this happened. There is good evidence that this happened at Labrador.
RIGHT: The No. 2 Emplacement and splinter cover photographed in 1946. Damage caused by spiking in February 1942 is visible in the rear walls.
In August 1946, The 1st Malay Coast Battery RA occupied Blakang Mati. In the same year, the guns spiked on 14th February 1942 were removed and replaced during August with similar Mark VII guns which the Japanese had managed to put back in working order at Labrador and Beting Kusah.
There was however, no essential equipment for the guns, such as a rangefinder, transmitting and receiving dials, or gun telescopes. It was probably about this time that the overhead covers were completely removed from the guns.
LEFT: On 10th October 1947, the CA Training Wing of 1st Malay Coast Battery RA under Major G.L. Brewster RA occupied Fort Siloso. Major L.W. Hall, RA was in Command of the Fort and was in charge of Coast Artillery training.
Also in 1947, a Fire Direction Table arrived from Ceylon and was installed in the underground War Reserve Accommodation by WOII Kelley of REME. Training of Malay Gunners from 1st Malay Coast Artillery then began. It was to be 1950 before the eastward firing range was authorised. It was then in February that a proof firing resulting in the guns being condemned took place.
Mark 24 Guns with Mark 5/6 Shields were then emplaced at Siloso. These guns could elevate to 45°, and had a range of 24,500 yards (22,403 metres). As the emplacements had been built for the Mark II CPM Mounting, there was a need for some modification to mount the guns and allow a limited arc of traverse.
Also arriving in 1950 was CA No.2 Mk.1 radar equipment. This was temporarily sited alongside the Battery Observation Post. In 1951, a Seawards Defence Headquarters was established on Mount serapong and this used the radar which had been established at Siloso. There was still a lack of equipment and some had to be manufactured locally in order to make the guns operational, albeit at a much reduced range. During the year, the battery carried out several practice shoots. From then until the disbanding of coast artillery abroad on 25th May 1956, the guns carried out several more practice shoots.
LEFT: Malay Gunner at a Mark VII 6-Inch BL Gun
CENTRE: Officer outside a Mark 24 6-Inch BL Gun
RIGHT: Officer inside a Mark 24 6-Inch BL Gun
ABOVE LEFT: The No. 2 Gun. On the right of this photo can be seen the OP (Observation Post) which was mid-way between the emplacements. Smoke can be seen in the photo, indicating that it was taken during a practice shoot.
ABOVE RIGHT: An aerial photograph dated November 1952.
ABOVE LEFT: Undated photograph of the No.1 Gun. Remains of the concrete splinter cover which once covered both guns can be seen in the photo.
ABOVE RIGHT: A view from Mount Siloso. The Observation Post between the guns had been removed by the time the photo was taken.
After the disbandment of coast artillery, all of the guns at Fort Siloso were sold for scrap and, as an artillery fort, Siloso passed in to history, although fortunately, not into oblivion.