Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pill Boxes and Bunkers in Singapore, Penang and Malaya ( Malaysia) Series No.1

1937/38 Pill box with Naval Standard Procedures Design

Pill Box located in Penang, protecting the Northern Approaches to the Penang Airfield at Bayan Lepas

Frontal View of the Pill Box

1940's Pill Box with Army FW3 Branch Basic Design

Army Type Pill Box constructed for close defence of the Penang Airfield as it is located at the perimeters of the airstrip ( Can be seen approaching Penang International Airport on the left - However, all loop holes have been sealed and may be utilised for civil purposes now)

Pill Boxes and Bunkers in Singapore, Penang and Malaya ( Malaysia) Series No.1

Pill boxes can be located near Johor River, North of Kota Tinggi/Mersing Road & both sides of road. Other areas are Kota Bahru, Melawi Beach in Kelantan & Penang.

Pre WW2 Bunkers were built as Naval Defence types – as part of the Naval Defence System to protect the Naval Base of Singapore. There were mainly two types built ;

Naval Pill Box Type 1 had 2 loop holes in front of the pill box with a small copula/tower in the middle as observation platform. Loop holes and tower slots would have been protected by armour shield shutters and was built for frontal defences, with wide fields of fire.

Naval Pill Box Type 2 had 2 Section of Machine Gun posts to cover left and right of frontal section. A large tower standing about 2-3 Meters high in the middle as observation tower, sometimes installed with range finder as per Naval Standard Procedures in 1937-1938.

From 1940’s, army types bunkers with loop holes and rifle slots that protected and cover fire all around the pill box were built, probably based on 1940 Branch FW3 War Office.

In May 1940 the branch of the DIRECTORATE of FORTIFICATIONS and WORKS (FW3) at the War Office was setup under the Directorship of Major-General G.B.O.Taylor. Its purpose was to provide specific pillbox designs to be constructed at defensive locations.

During June and July 1940 saw the FW3 branch issue 7 Basic Designs. However, once in the field, the local construction companies modified these under the direction of the area commands. Occasionally, a `one-off`` type was designed to the War Office standard by the Command and Corps Chief Engineers.

The FW3 pillbox design concept was to provide a simple `fieldwork standard` that could be constructed very quickly. Most designs consisted of or incorporated some of the following features:

-Minimum of Bullet/Splinter Proof protection

-No attempt was made to provide living accommodation

-Some designs were enhanced to Shell Proof standard

-Simple Blast Walls to protect open entrances

-External flat side walls with rectangular or polygonal shape

-Protect an area and withstand all directions enemy attacks

The use of common designs with standard sizes for doors, loopholes and flat sides made it easier to `mass produce` items for concrete shuttering and hence the speed of construction. In Malaya, it appeared that the type 22 and lozenge design type of pill box design have been adopted.

The lozenges pill box was named for its shape. Designed for infantry units armed with rifles and submachine guns. The internal wall would be running lengthways down the centre to prevent ricochets inside the box and add strength to the roof.

The pill boxes were to be constructed close to each other to increase fields of fire and protection against flanking movement by enemy

Those pillboxes were probably built by Malaya Public Works Department (PWD) and local contractors under supervision by the army or by the Royal Engineers. The hexagonal type pill boxes of army standard type designs can be found in Kota Bahru, Jitra, Sungei Petani, Kuantan and Kepala Batas near the Muda River to protect the Butterworth Airfields.

More pill boxes pictures in Sinagapore, Penang and Malaya will be posted soonest. TOM

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