A rare glimpse of Sentosa’s hidden World War II military facility Fort Connaught

The guided tours for the public were fully booked within 10 minutes of its release.

Sherlyn Sim

Considers knowing how to use a rice cooker an achievement.

Published: 8 February 2023, 4:08 PM

Fort Connaught, one of three forts involved in the battle of Singapore during World War II, will be open for guided tours from Feb 10 to Mar 5. This is the first time the fort is open to the public since it was built in 1878. 

The Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour is among over 30 programmes offered as part of the National Heritage Board’s (NHB) Battle for Singapore initiative to mark the 81st anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.

While the $20 tickets for the tour were quickly snapped up within 10 minutes of release, here are some glimpses from our visit to the hidden fort.

Our visit started off with a 10-minute upslope walk into the forest close to Sentosa Cove, where we got our first glimpse of half-buried stairs, hinting at the historic ruins that lay ahead.  

The guide explained that Fort Connaught was constructed on the eastern side of Sentosa to defend Keppel Harbour, a crucial ship-building and repair facility in Singapore.

It was demolished by the British in February 1942 shortly before the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, but some of its structures remain till today.

Continuing through the forest, we reached the observation post, which was still relatively intact despite being overgrown by roots and vines. 

As the site has been relatively untouched since the end of World War II, the remaining structures bear the scars of the Battle of Singapore.


Our guide pointed out the holes from enemy fire that were still visible on the fort’s structures. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


About two minutes away from the observation post was a deep underground chamber that was once used to store ammunition for the fort’s guns.


If you’re having trouble imagining how deep the chamber is, the branches at the top of this photo are on ground level. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


As the stairs here are unstable, the underground chamber is off-limits to the public.


Throughout the tour, there are black and yellow ropes that cordon off areas that are hazardous and off-limits. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


After another 10 minutes of trekking through the vegetation, the tour came to its final stop at the fort wall and gun emplacements. This is where Fort Connaught’s 9.2 inch guns used to be located, the largest guns on Sentosa at the time.

In this part of the tour, our guide shared more about the myth that Singapore’s guns were facing the wrong way when the Japanese attacked.

Although Fort Connaught was built to defend against maritime threats with its guns pointed out towards the sea, they were rotated to fire against the Japanese invading by land during the Battle of Singapore.


The guns in these emplacements had to be manually operated during the Battle of Singapore as the power cables were not long enough to supply electricity to the rotated guns. PHOTO CREDIT: SENTOSA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION


As the tour was off the beaten track, I was glad I was wearing comfortable clothing and a good pair of shoes. There were also many mosquitoes in the area, so insect repellent is highly recommended for those heading on similar walking tours.


Keep your eyes peeled while walking through the fort, or the Singaporean wildlife, including red weaver ants and golden orb spiders, may catch you off guard. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


Although the Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour is currently sold out, NHB is also offering other Battle of Singapore tours including the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown tour. Guides will share stories of World War II heroes at heritage landmarks, such as the Jacob Ballas Garden and old Raffles College. 

The tour will end in Bukit Brown, where participants will learn about the battle that took place between British and Indian soldiers and the Japanese.


Bukit Brown cemetery was closed for burials in 1973. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD


There will also be talks and webinars including a series called Archives Invites. One of these talks by Dr Will Butler, head of military records at The National Archives, United Kingdom, will trace the British defence and fall of Singapore using a range of material produced by politicians and military leaders before, during, and after the conflict.

The full list of tours and programmes can be found on NHB’s website. Those interested in the programmes can purchase tickets for them on Peatix.

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