|Watery path towards the bunker|
The first sign that things are not as normal as it seems started straight at the entrance. Mounted on the gates was the sign "No Trespassing". There's even a makeshift guard house to ensure that unauthorised people are denied entry. Next, there are no tarred roads, only mud roads. Now I'm starting to see why rubber boots were needed.
|Kelvin the guide|
Kelvin, our bubbly guide, was on-hand to provide the walking commentary. You can sense from a mile away that he's one guy who loves his job. From a 800 metres walk in, we then made a left turn towards the Number 4 bunker located below Talbots Hill.
The British-built bunkers was first constructed by building the main structure before the top of the bunkers were covered up and, thus becoming Talbots Hill. This ammunition bunker is one of seven ammunition bunkers that were laid into that hill. There were other hills with bunkers that made up the entire ammunition depot. Altogether, there were 18 bunkers in all. (1) During the Japanese occupation, the bunkers were used by the Japanese to store their own ammunition. (2)
|Main Entrance to No. 4 Bunker|
The bunker blended in well with its surroundings. Trees were growing above it, while overgrown shrubs helped to cover the cold concrete exterior walls. I'm not sure if the shrubs were present at that time, but definitely by cutting itself into a hill, the British had wanted to make sure that it was hard for enemy's aircraft to spot these bunkers.
The ammunition storage depot is also located close to the Sembawang Naval Base and to move these large shells, it was said that there were railway tracks with carts to safely move them towards the naval base. (2) The bunkers must have been a hive of activity then.
|Entrance to the bunker|
After more than 70 years, the two-metre thick steel doors have succumbed to rust and wear. One of the doors has came out of its hinges, frozen in its final position.
|Ankle-deep muddy water|
|Curved Entrance towards the main storage area|
The walkway towards the bunker was still rather silty. From the water mark that was left on the wall, it seemed like the muddy water actually reached to a waist level. As you can see, there's a slight curve to walkway. This is to ensure that if there's an explosion, military personnel who ran towards these walkway would survive.
|The inside of the bunker|
We arrived at the elevated open bunker. As you can see from the photo above, the bunker is big enough to be a garage for at least six cars. To allow fresh air to come in, the British had incorporated an air vent that draws air from outside.
|Original lighting within the bunker|
|Marshall, Fleming & Co. Ltd Gantry Crane|
Instead of manually moving the explosives, the gantry crane aids military personnel in carrying crates of explosives and moving them neatly into position. A metal plate states that the crane was produced in 1937.
Another interesting fitting was the pipe that was located along the walkway. I believe that these are pipes that were placed there to help pump away water. The pipe had a year 1936 stamped on it.
It was a real throw back into history as many things within the bunker laid as it is. It is unknown to public as to what had happened to the other six bunkers. Are they still around or have they been covered over and no longer accessible to public?
This outing also reminds us that there're still much to see and discover on our little red dot.
1. "The Nipah Palm, or Attap, lends its name to Attap Valley Road and Jalan Nipah. Its unripe seed, or attap chee, is soaked in syrup before becoming an additive to ice kachang, a local dessert. A mangrove palm, it can be found in the swamps of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pasir Ris Park's mangrove area, Pulau Ubin, and Pulau Tekong." (3)
2. The bunker was not an unknown entity. In 2003, JTC Corporation proposed that the Number 4 bunker be converted to either a club or a restaurant. (4)
1. Zaccheus, M. January 29, 2015. Pre-war British bunkers to open its doors to public. The Straits Times. Retrieved on: February 21, 2015. http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/pre-war-british-bunker-open-its-doors-public
2. Zaccheus, M. January 28, 2015. Secret British bunker in Woodlands will be open to public for the first time in 70 years. The Straits Times. Retrieved on: February 21, 2015. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/secret-british-bunker-woodlands-will-be-open-public-firs
3. What's in a name? Going back to the roots. July 9, 2007. The Straits Times. Retrieved on: February 25, 2015.
4. Tan, H. Y. August 28, 2003. Doorway to a club or restaurant. The Straits Times. Retrieved on: February 25, 2015.