Pasir Panjang Pillbox – II

Following on from my previous post.

So I got a little lost going down the “rabbit hole that is google” after I found a random photo on Pinterest that showed a pillbox in the middle of downtown Singapore. The Pillbox of course does not exist today, but it was a photo I had not seen, and it helped me get lost in the AGSL digital photo archives of the UW, Milwaukee. Of big interest to me were the photos here which I suspect is the Pasir Panjang Pillbox, since it is a (maybe the only) Pillbox in Singapore with the unique curtain wall with loopholes at the side and rear, and, geographically it matches: it’s placement near the road and creek, and west coast palms that dot the area.

So what stands out, and made me reflect on my progress thus far:

1. There is no build up of earth around the pillbox as there is in modern times, but given the land reclamation that has occured in the area this could simply be a result of modern road works. So my idea to create this feature to Pillbox as it stands is largely moot, and if I wasn’t nearly finished I would abandon it. (post coming soon)

2. The pillbox sits very “tall” in the landscape. Unlike the squat and almost “brutish” examples that exist in Europe, this seems to be a very obvious strong point with little attempt to blend or conceal it into the environment. Also it does not sit on level ground rather there is a clear foundation visible in the left hand photo.

3. The reinforced metal plates that protected the lower edges of the ports are either missing, or more likely screed over with concrete to blend them into the surface. (Note: similar plates are visible in the photos below, or are at least hinted at.) And they are very visible on the Pillbox as it stands today and surviving Naval Pattern Pillboxes in Malaysia.

4. The obvious two tone colour on the pillbox suggests a painted camouflage was applied to the exterior walls. Further searches online have found no contemporary coloured photos, though I did turn up two photos of another pillbox (located on the East Coast of Singapore alongside the Singapore Swimming Club) that shows a wildly different camouflage effect with at least 3 colours painted on its surface. Sadly this Pillbox is no longer standing and was probably removed during land reclamation efforts during the seventies.

The restored upper elements of Fort Silos on Palau Blakang Mati (today: Sentosa) have been painted two tone, being an almost Light Stone or Earth Yellow and a Light or Brunswick Green, and I suspect that similar colours were probably used on the pillboxes, but I have not been able to verify this.

If anyone has better information or advice, it would be appreciated.

PS: In other random news, the “real job” started again after a Summer off, so the coming posts are where I’ll be sharing some stuff I completed in the last few months while I come to terms with not being free to sleep in.

6 thoughts on “Pasir Panjang Pillbox – II

    1. Thanks TIM, it’s kinda amazing the stuff you find online when you do a deep dice…for example most models of La Haye Sainte show a flat lintel on the barn, and yet a watercolour painted June 21 the same year shows an arched lintel as does the Robert Hill watercolour painted a few weeks after the battle, and yet all the models follow the current look or rather that of the “Airfix” model”…so you just need to dive deep enough if you want the model to be accurate…or as accurate as you can make in the scale you’ve decided.

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  1. Have to agree with TIM completely here (which will probably come as quite a shock to him)! ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice pics! My mum lived in Singapore before the war but I doubt she paid much attention to the pillboxes as a kid, so it’s probably not worth me asking her!

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    1. But I bet your mum has great stories about what it was like. I’ve lived here 17years (and while there aren’t many Wargamer’s of the periods I prefer) it’s amazing how many buildings have 1942, 1943 as their date of construction…a time when Singapore was Syonan. Added to which, sadly, much of the WWII history has been buried since it did not fit a narrative that was comfortable to those who came to power.

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    2. I had hoped to spend a chunk of my summer doing a reconnoitre of all the WWII sites in SG, sadly COVID restrictions did halt it a bit…but I hope to rectify that as we move into more freedoms soon.

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