Pasir Panjang Pillbox

Pasir Panjang (Malay: Sand Long, thus “long sand”)

This is probably the best example of the British Naval Design Type 1 pillbox that still stands in Singapore, there are others in Malaysia* along what was the Kota Tinggi Defence line and I believe a rather good example still stands in Penang, also in Malaysia. Located, today, at the corner of Pasir Panjang Rd and Science Park Rd, the pillbox once covered the west coast beaches and the coastal approach towards the battery and storage depot located at Labrador Park, further East. Land reclamation in the west has seen the “beach” move a few 100m south, and now the pillbox is a landlocked landmark.

It is unknown whether the forces here took part in the Battle for Pasir Panjang since most of the battle took place on the long line of hills and ridges of Bukit Panjang (Malay: Hill Long, thus “long hill”) to the North but it was under the command of the 1st Malay Regiment, who were positioned to oppose any Japanese advance along this route. Although it is well within sight of Bukit Chandu, (Malay: Hill Opium, thus “opium hill”) where C Company made it’s heroic last stand against the Japanese troops, and having visited the site a few times in the past, there appears to be no “battle damage” nor is there any visible repair work that would suggest that it was involved actively in the events on 12-15 February 1942.

I always wondered at the merits of having the door into the pillbox at the side, and can only imagine that there once was some form of sandbag curtain wall to protect the entry, since it would make more sense being placed in the rear. However similar Type 1 pillbox’s built in Malaysia show the door also at the side. (eg: Southbay(1), Southbay(2), Mt Erskine Cemetery, and, Relau Pillbox which are all in Penang) and there are Type 1 examples at Pengerang Coastal Battery location in Johor, Malaysia, not to be confused with the Johore Battery that was in Singapore. And while I have found photos, my search skills have not found any that reveal the doors, but I am willing to guess that they follow the examples that still stand. Though interestingly only the Type 1 at Pasir Panjang has the addition of the rear curtain wall and extra firing ports.

A bit “fresher” and less weathered than it stands today(though I think I need to add a little tropical mould) this is my take on the pillbox. I have to decide whether the level of the earth at the right is a result of modern roadworks, or represents the original dunes above the beach. Maybe a foam insert that I can add if I want, but remove as well?

* I know Singapore and Malaysia were one country and known collectively during WWII as Malaya, but for the sake of convenience when taking about war sites I am going to refer to them in reference to the country they now exist in.

6 thoughts on “Pasir Panjang Pillbox

    1. The plan is to do the “Fall of Singapore” as a period for WWII gaming, so it’s very much a gaming piece.

      I don’t paint well enough to try and attempt a diorama, I fear I would get frustrated with my ability not keeping up with my ambition and I would quit while trashing anything I started…better to stay where I can keep them “at arms length” and be happy enough with the results.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. It is a quite strange design, so I suspect that there were more positions on the left to make access to the door more difficult. There is a concrete drain culvert in front of it now and I also suspect that this may have been a natural water course flowing into the ocean in the past, and would have acted as a further obstacle for attackers.

      Liked by 1 person

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