Fort Canning: The Battle Box

Our first stop-off in Singapore was Fort Canning, a smallish park in the centre of Singapore.  Fort Canning is a brief walk north of Clarke’s Quay, right in the heart of Singapore’s bustling business centre. It’s a welcome break from the city streets with a Spice Garden, Fort Gate & Wall, & the impressive Fort Canning Centre that use to be British Army barracks. The park’s name is owed to the British fort that was positioned here during World War II & prior to that in Singapore’s colonial era. Though small in size its location & reasonable altitude above the city… (before the skyscrapers!!)… has led to a rich history.

Probably its most famous historic event was a decision made in World War II by a British Officer, Lieutenant General Percival. ‘The Battle Box’ is a museum in Fort Canning dedicated to Singapore’s struggle during World War II  & in particular Percival’s conundrum. It’s a really well structured & interesting museum using original material & dummies to portray different scenes on the fateful day of Percival’s decision to surrender, in the ACTUAL bunker where it all happened. The museum’s audio tour takes you through the bunker 9m below the ground, & coupled with the video effects, figurines & actual artifacts it gives you a realistic representation (…I guess!?) of the situation on February 15th 1942. Singapore was an important positional stronghold for the allied forces & surrender was not the prefered conclusion. But Percival did decide to surrender Singapore to the Japanese… the LARGEST EVER British surrender in history… so certainly not a decision taken lightly!

It’s certainly worth the small admission fee & an hour of your time in Singapore to discover an important event in the recent history of the city-state. For more information visit the Battlebox website.

~ Rhys ~


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