Pulau Blakang Mati - Singapore ***
Pulau Blakang Mati – Singapore ***
This Island southern coast of Singapore is today known as Sentosa, renamed in 1970. The British Barracks were constructed in 1904. The 500-hectare island known as Sentosa today, used to be called Pulau Blakang Mati from as far back as the 1600s
The nearby beach was the scene of infamous executions of POWs who attempted escaped from Selerang POW camp in Changi province.
During the Battle to save Singapore in February 1942, Blakang Mati was a major target. British guns were actively engaged in fighting off the Japanese attacks, even firing overland during the last three frenzied days of battle. The gun batteries were destroyed or deliberately broken up to prevent them from falling into Japanese hands.
‘Other than the main parade square, Blakang Mati Artillery Barrack consisted of four blocks designed in typical British military style for the Far East. High ceilings and wide corridors suited the hot tropical weather of Singapore, and rows of wooden rectangular doors and windows lined up the walls providing easy accessibility.’
‘The barrack was well-equipped with many housing quarters for the junior staffs, senior officers and married military personnel. There were also lecture rooms, store rooms, cookhouse, officer mess, rifle range, church, laundry bay, grocery shop and a small cinema for entertainment purposes. It even had its own medical facilities, reservoir and football field. By 1940, three more buildings were added to the camp.’
The above information is from Singapore Remembers
On 22nd April 1942 an advance party of 170 men from 2/18th arrived on the Island.
There were nine men from 2/4th on Pulau Blakang Mati. POWs working here were a mixture of Australians and British, although predominantly the island was a 2/18th Battalion domain. The men were accommodated in two barracks, one for Australians and one for British. The former British Barracks were equipped with showers, latrines and kitchens – luxurious in comparison with POW accommodation elsewhere. There were however horrific stories of inhumane treatment of POWs by the Japanese – torture and starvation.
The men worked for the Japanese Army Supply Unit which supplied the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. The POWs handled aviation fuel, oil and bombs.
Sick POWs were evacuated to either of the Changi Hospitals and replacements sent to the island to take up the vacated position.
After the end of the war, the Japanese were imprisoned in the Barracks.