The Argyll and Sutherland
Photographs of Selerang Barracks. Click picture to enlarge
History of Selarang Barracks
Pre-World War II
When British surveyor, General Gillman, first inspected Changi district in 1927, the vicinity consisted of little more than mangrove swamp and virgin forest, with the exception of a police station at the mouth of Changi River and a small Malay village nearby. However, the Changi Peninsula's strategic importance in controlling the eastern approaches to the Johor Straits soon became apparent to the Colonial Government. Therefore, within the next 15 years, extensive development was done to transform Changi into a formidable military base. Work on Selarang Barracks began in 1936 and the whole complex was completed in 1938. A battalion of Gordon Highlanders immediately occupied Selarang Barracks and remained there till the Japanese invasion.
World War II
During the Japanese occupation from February 1942 to August 1945, Selarang Barracks became a prisoner-of-war camp. Initially housing Australian POWs, Selarang Barracks came into prominence as a result of a remarkable chain of events in September 1942, known as the "Selarang Barracks Square Incident''. Four young soldiers (Cpl. Rodney Breavington, Pte. Victor Gale, Pte. Harold Waters and Pte. Eric Fletcher) who tried to escape from prison were recaptured. As a result, the Japanese wanted the POWs to sign a document promising not to escape under any circumstances. This was against the Geneva Convention on POWs which permitted opportunities of escape. When the POWs refused, the Japanese crammed 15,400 men, including those brought over from Changi, into the barracks which was meant for only 1,200 men. The square was crowded with makeshift tents as men spilled out from the buildings. There were no toilet facilities although each barracks building had about four to six toilets, which were flushed from small cisterns on the roofs. The Japanese, however, cut the water off and these toilets could not be used. The Japanese only allowed one tap to be used and prisoners had to line up in the early hours of the morning and that queue would go on all day. Each man was allowed one quart of water for drinking, washing and everything else. To force the POWs to sign, the Japanese had the four soldiers shot on Changi beach on 2 September 1942 with senior POW officers watching. With the desperate food and sanitary conditions getting worse daily, and the threat of an epidemic breaking out in the overcrowded camp, the men were persuaded by their officers to sign the document to prevent any more unnecessary deaths. The signing took place on 5 September and after that the prisoners returned to their original barracks.
Post-World War II
At the end of WWII and the return of colonial rule to Singapore in 1945, Selarang Barracks once again became the home of the British Army. In 1969 Selarang Barracks became the home for most of the Australian Army units that would go to help make up ANZUK. First Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) was stationed at Selarang 1969/70. At that time ANZUK Force had not officially started but 28 ANZUK Brigade was in existence. This arrangement continued until 1 October 1971, when the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) officially handed over the camp to the Singapore Armed Forces. 42 SAR became the camp's tenants until March 1984 when the 9th Division took over Selarang. The main barrack blocks were knocked down in 1987, the entrance to the camp is still there (2007) , if anyone has any further information about the barracks email email@example.com
Singapore 1964 - 1966
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Updated: 12 February 2015