Fort Siloso, situated on the western part of Sentosa Island, is the only coastal artillery battery in Singapore that has survived until the present day. It was originally built by Britons in the late 19th century, after the opening of the Suez Channel in 1869. It was this important milestone in international trade that saw Singapore find itself in the center of the main route between Europe and Asia, thus acquiring strategic importance and needing protection. For this purpose, an open coastal fortification was built on Sentosa Island, which was called Pulau Blakang Mati (the Island of Death) in those days.
By time World War II came around, Fort Siloso was modified to protect the city from naval invasion and was refitted and significantly modernized. Bomb shelters were equipped, artillery positions were strengthened and the real underground fortress was constructed. However, the British efforts were in vain, as the Japanese conquered the island by land. During the Japanese occupation, between 1942 – 1945, the fort served as concentration camp for prisoners of war. Additionally, in the late 20th century, the Singaporean political prisoner Chia Tai Po was kept under house arrest at Siloso.
Today, the restored fort has been turned into an interactive military and history museum, with the largest collection of the World War II relics in the country. All of the bunkers, tunnels and ammunition storehouses have been opened to visitors. Installations with realistic wax figures of British soldiers, recreating scenes from fort’s life during the war, have been assembled inside the fortification’s territory.
Combat weapons from different epochs – from the 17th century to World War II – are also exhibited here, of which the collection of cannons is the most impressive. Meanwhile, museum’s premises feature an exposition that shows photos and documents from the war years.
Free guided tours through the museum are held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as on holidays, at 12:40 p.m. and at 3:40 p.m.