Singapore Naval Base Information
Singapore Ammunition Problems
Ever month Malaya Command sent a table of numbers of guns by size and mark installed in the Singapore and Penang Fixed defences listed in the vertical column and across was in different columns were the type of shells available for use. The different columns listed total numbers of different types of shells with the batteries and held in reserve. As no shell type of any size was at full establishment in reserve stocks, there was also listed the hundreds of superseded 9.2-inch shells (from memory 900 shells) and the thousands of superseded 6-inch shells (from memory 4,600 shells) held to help make-up for the short fall of reserve stocks.
I wounder why there was no record of star-shell stocks as for night-action the 6-inch batteries would be needed to provide illumination not only for themselves but also for the 9.2-inch and 15-inch batteries?
It was hoped that the ordered (from Australia) gunnery radars (no limit to the number ordered) would be delivered and installed in 1942. The orders for the base plates and pre-fabricated radar masts had been placed with New South Wales Railway workshops; one 180 foot high radar mast and a opened order for 30 foot high radar masts.
As the naval base had tens of thousands of tons of shells it did seem strange that the greatest shortages of ammunition was for the anti-torpedo boat batteries 12-pounder guns, the shortages for the twin automatic 6-pounder guns sounds logical as the gun and mounting was of the latest type and manufacture.
As these were monthly reports it interesting that the War Office was surprised by the shortages of ammunition for use against land targets.
The nearest stock of 9.2-inch H.E. shells was in Ceylon (which would have to be replaced from UK) and the nearest stocks of 15-inch H.E. shell was for the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandra(?). Then surprise the army did not know that separate gunnery tables were required for the H.E. shells to those of the A.P. shells, this to would have to provided by the RN. The Singapore Naval Base gun yard did have at least a 15-inch gun as the barrel was recorded as been damaged by bombing.
Was the navy shipping its ammunition out of Singapore as 12-pounder, 6-inch and 15-inch guns were standard guns in service and yet the army had ammunition problems?
It is often claimed the army did find ONE 15-inch H.E. shell at the naval base.
Singapore Naval Base
By far the largest land usage of the Naval Base was the Armament Depot which huge. As per most things in the naval base was duplicated.
The naval base had been designed and built on the premise that the IJN would attempt a knock blow using all their carrier aircraft. Once the Japanese had establish their air bases in northern Malaya and possibly Siam the naval base would then have to endure continual bombardment from the air and yet remain operational to support the local naval forces and the support the main fleet when it arrived from European waters. Lightweight roofs and upper walls would reduce the bombs detonating and spreading blast and fragmentation down on the workers. The bombs detonation on the concrete workshop floor vent up and out through the upper walls and roof, the workers been protected by the lower blast proof lower walls and internal workshop blast walls. (The weight savings of the light wall and roof structures reduced the load bearing on the ground. Some building were totally blast and splinter proof with concrete walls and steel doors and shutters as it was estimated that some base functions had to continue no matter how heavy the attack.
As for torpedo bomber attack it was impossible to obtain a good angle of attack on ships alongside the wharves or if correctly anchored in the fleet anchorage. This was because shape of the Johore Strait, the mud banks, and the low hills in southern Johore. This is clearly evident by using Admiralty Charts, GSGS Ordinance Maps and 1930 and 1940 photographs. By the way the location of the search light batteries (and their ration strengths) on those hills is exactly located (Johore Grid map reference in the war diary of the unit that the war duty of supplying rations).
N.B. GSGS = General Staff Geographical Section (or was the other way around)
N.B. even in the early 1920's the British planners assumed the Japanese could land in norther Malaya and advace down the west cost and attack Singapore from the North. But then the road and rail system was far less developed and Malaya was far less well mapped. (another myth down the drain)
1939. The first line of defence of Singapore was based on the torpedo and mine:-
1. Submarine Depot ship with her submarine flotilla withdrawn from China.
2. Two squadrons of old torpedo bombers to been replaced by Bristol Beaufort (these were retained in UK with failure of the Botha torpedo bomber).
3. Flotilla D class destroyers and possibly a closs defence half flotilla of old R class destroyers.
4. Mine fields both contact and controlled.
5. If tactical opportunity arose HMS Eagle's two torpedo bomber squdarons.
There was also flying boat squadron and two(?) squadrons of Blenheim Mk I light bombers.
Long range warning was hoped for by intelligent and the cruisers HMS Kent (Flagship of Admiral Noble), 2 other county class cruisers and HMS Birmingham (have to recheck the scores of the 1939 fleet regatta at Hong Kong for ships names, can give scores if wanted) and long range aircraft.
This written only from memory so some detail may need correcting.
This could be part I of a much detailed article is there is interest.
I will had to spend time in finding all the details as my library is even my cluttered and confused than my mind, if that is possible?
P.S. In Hong Kong 1939 there is film of what was believed to HMS Tendos with her quarter deck completely lined with mines.
P.S. 1939 China Fleet Regatta results
HMS Kent 106
HMS Birmingham 82
HMS Dorestshire 75
HMS Eagle 75
HMS Medway 66
HMS Cornwall 58