The Fate of Singapore’s Guns – Japanese Report
- June 1977
- Bogart, Charles H.
- History - WW2, WWII operations
- None noted.
- Originally published in the Naval Historical Review edition (all rights reserved)
In a previous issue of Naval Historical Review we published an article on the guns of Singapore and their ultimate fate. Mr. Bogart, a United States member of the Society, has forwarded this report obtained from Japanese sources.
BETWEEN 7TH AND 12TH APRIL 1942 Lieutenant Colonel Masataka Numaguchi of Japanese Army Technical Headquarters and Major Katsuji Akiyama of the Japanese Heavy Artillery School toured Singapore to report on captured weapons.
Their report was translated by the US Army as Japanese Monograph No. 68, ‘Report on Installations and Captured Weapons, Java and Singapore’. Extracts from the monograph are quoted below.
‘The condition of four 15 inch guns, six 9.2 inch guns, sixteen 6 inch guns, three 12 pounder guns and eight 6 pounder dual mounted guns is hopeless. The parts of these guns that can be used as spare parts will be saved while the remaining parts will be scrapped. Total available steel, approximately 3,300 tons.
One 15 inch gun (Buena Vista Battery). A careful test will be conducted to determine whether the shell at present in the tube will slide back by its own dead weight by elevating the barrel gradually. Should this method of extraction be unsuccessful, an attempt will be made to fire the shell with a decreased base charge (¾ of that employed by the British) after carefully checking the breech block.
Before doing this, the condition of all parts of the gun, especially the recoil buffer and the counter recoil, will be thoroughly inspected. If the damage to the motive power mechanism is slight, the piece will be cleared, inspected, and repaired by specialists and tested without delay.
Power Plants for guns: There are three 15 inch guns in Johore Fort. The power room for the control tower is flooded and cannot be restored.
However, the powerhouse for the right turret is in perfect condition, while that of the left gun turret has suffered only minor damage.
The power room of the 15 inch guns in Buena Vista Battery is slightly damaged.
The 15 inch guns were Navy guns manufactured in 1903 and 1919, but installed only recently.
As the principal aim is to establish defence against enemy submarines in the Singapore Harbour anchorage, the main position of the fortified zone established by the British Army will be abandoned and a new zone will be set up around the anchorage. This will constitute an area enclosed by a line through Merbau, Bokum and Tembakul Islands.
Batteries consisting of two to four 6 inch (150 mm) guns will be established on Merbau, Bakum and Tembakul Islands respectively and sonars will be installed in the principal channels and outside the line of the islands. Furthermore, sub-chasers will be assigned to escort our ships and to prevent enemy submarines from entering the anchorage. The Buena Vista 15 inch (380 mm) and the Siloso 12 pounder gun batteries will be completed in order to extend the control beyond the harbour and into the anchorage…
The 15 inch (380 mm) guns in Buena Vista Battery and the 12 pounder guns in Siloso Battery will be used in the same positions after being repaired. These batteries will use the present observation posts and will be equipped temporarily with Type 89 battery telescopes.
From this report it would appear that the Japanese scrapped four of the 15 inch guns. Depending on the success of repairs recommended it would seem that the fifth gun was scrapped early, in the war or was disposed of by the Allies after the cessation of hostilities.
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