29 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (20) - Yet Another Old Cannon - Answers

Peter Stubbs got all the answers correct although it is quite obvious that both YG and Icemoon knew the answers too.

From Peter Stubb's detailed and informative comments, you could tell that he is an expert on the subject of guns, batteries and cannons used in World War II.

British gunners cleaning the gun barrel (IWM)
Publicity photo from WWII British War Office, showing off impressive size of Monster Guns (IWM)

The replica at Cosford Road, minus the "publicity models"
Here are the answers to the quiz:

Q1. The cannon in the above photo is a replica. Where is it sited? (Give the road name.)
A1. Cosford Road

Q2. How many such guns were there orginally near this location and what were they collectively called?
A2. Three guns and they were called the Johore Battery.

Q3. How many such guns were there in Singapore at that time?
A3. Five.

Q4. What was the diameter of the shell (in inches) that the gun fired?
A4. 15 inches.

The passage below is reproduced from the National Heritage Board's marker at the Cosford Road site.

Johore Battery

A close-up view of one of the "monster guns", 14 November 1941
A close-up view of the replica 69 years later - 15 November 2010
The Johore Battery comprised three guns. They were part of a group of twenty nine large coastal guns installed in Singapore in the 1930s.

The Johore Battery's three weapons were among Singapore's largest coastal guns. They were known as 15-inch guns, because 15 inches (38 cm) was the diameter of the shell they fired. Their gun barrels were 16.5 metres long and the shells stood 1.5 metres high. The guns were capable of hurling these shells at battleships over twenty miles away.

[From left to right]: General Sir Archibald Wavell accompanying the C.F.D. Brigadier Curtis and the General Officer Commanding Singapore Fortress, Major-General Keith Simmons, touring Singapore's defences, c. 1941
They were originally called "monster guns" when tested in England in 1934, before being sent to Singapore. When World War II started, there were only seven of these defending the coasts of the British Empire. Two were near Dover in England, and five in Singapore. Besides the Johore Battery, Singapore also had two 15-inch guns at Buona Vista Battery. They were located at the junction of Ulu Pandan and Clementi Roads, in the West of the island.

Gunners "pulling through" the barrel of a "monster gun" after firing, c. 1941
Each of Johore's Battery's guns had its own ammunition bunker. These were about 500 metres apart, arranged in a line that stretched from the present site onto what are now the runways of Changi Airport. Though these guns were originally intended to stop an attack from the sea, two of Johore Battery's guns could turn around and fire to the rear, towards Johor Bahru. The third, the one located at this site, could only fire out to sea.

One of the "monster guns" ready to "roar", 15 November 1941
From 5th to 12th February 1942, the two guns of the Johore Battery that could turn around fired landward in Singapore's defence. They shelled Japanese infantry positions from Johor Bahru, just across the Causeway, eastwards to the area North of Tanjong Punggol. They also joined in the battles for Bukit Timah Road and Pasir Panjang. The guns of Johore Battery fired 194 rounds before their demolition by the British on the night of 12th February. This demolition, and the postwar upgrading of Changi aerodrome, means all the remains are the underground tunnels on this site, which once housed ammunition and power plants.

22 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (20) - Yet Another Old Cannon

For the past month, I stumbled upon quite a few old cannons without actually aiming to look for them. Luckily, they were not aiming at me either. So it looks like the next few blog posts will still be about old cannons. Sorry, if this is not your cannonball game.

1. The cannon in the above photo is a replica. Where is it sited? (Give the road name.)

2. How many such guns were there orginally near this location and what were they collectively called?

3. How many such guns were there in Singapore at that time?

4. What was the diameter of the shell (in inches) that the gun fired?

Answers will be revealed in a week's time.

01 November 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (19) - Another Old Cannon - Answers

No correct answers were received for the last quiz although YG did come close with his "near the sea" guess about the location. I truly marvel at his keen sense of observation - he noticed the ketapang leaves on the ground of the quiz photo and guessed it was near the sea. Looks like for future such quizes, I will have to "digitally clean up" the ground as well and not only "paint over" the name plaque.

I said YG's guess "come close" because the location used to be near the sea in the 1950-60s, possibly even till the 1970s, as this 1963 map shows:

Now, the map of the area looks like this:

About 400 metres of land had been reclaimed and on it stand the Pasir Panjang Wharves.

Answers to the Quiz

Q1. Where does this cannon lie?

A1. Pasir Panjang Park - This got to be the one of the smallest, if not the smallest park in Singapore. Its area is probably only slightly larger than an HDB executive flat which is about 140 square metre or 1,500 square feet. This is because a large part of the park has been converted to an open-air carpark. The park is located next to the Pasir Panjang Food Centre. Incidentally, the cannon is located directly in front of the old pre-war house which I blogged about previously.

Q2. Who presented this cannon?

A2. The photo of the plaque above says it all. He is HJC Kulasingha, OBE (1900-1982). HJC is not his title but part of his name, i.e. his full name is Hollupatherage James Calbera Kulasingha. OBE is not part of his name but probably stands for Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He contested in Bukit Timah as a Progressive Party candidate in 1951 Legislative Council General Election against Valiya Purayil Abdullah of the Labour Party. He won, garnering 1,311 (57.1%) of the votes against Abdullah's 983 votes (42.9%). He also contested in Southern Islands in the 1955 General Election under the same party as well as in Pasir Panjang in the 1959 General Election as an independent candidate but lost both elections. (Refer to this webpage for further details. If you explore the website, you will find that people like clerks, hairdressers and newspapermen contested the General Elections in those days. Not quite different from recent times when you have people like the Slipper Man contesting the General Election, am I right? For your information, Kulasingha was a merchant.)

He was also Chairman of the Pasir Panjang Rural District Committee. In this position, road safety in his district was one of his concerns, as can be seen from this Straits Times article dated 20 Oct 1950, courtesy of the SPH and NLB:

He was also once the Director of the Jurong Bird Park.

Q3. When was it presented? (Just the year will do.)

1 Feb 1957, or should it be 2 Jan 1957? It says "1.2.1957" on the plaque. Erm... that's why I said "just the year will do". The year is definitely 1957 - I was only less than one year old and probably still breastfeeding.