"Lost" in Singapore for more than 70 years, a hunt for the fortifications for 15-inch artillery guns - dubbed Monster Guns - will get underway soon, spearheaded by curious individuals from Britain and Singapore who are convinced the fortifications lie buried in the Lion City.
As many as three reinforced concrete mountings - some three storeys deep - for giant 15-inch guns built by the British before World War Two could await discovery in Singapore, said a British amateur historian who has spent more than a decade tracing the fate of these and other Singapore coastal gun emplacements.
Lost and found
The Buona Vista No.1 Gun was near the junction of Ulu Pandan and Reformatory (now Clementi) Road. Mowbray Camp now covers the area and is occupied by the Singapore Police Force. But there are visible traces of what may be entrances to the underground magazine (which stores ammunition for the 15-inch gun) and the Battery Plotting Room (which provided fire control data for the guns using sightings of enemy warships seen from coastal observation posts to work out their position on a map) in the camp. The underground areas may well still exist.
What happened to the 15-inch guns?
The guns themselves are long gone. What remained after the British spiked the guns in February 1942, stayed in place during the war, and were scrapped by the British in the years following the war.
What may remain of the 15-inch guns are the underground reinforced concrete magazines and power rooms, and the gun-wells into which the guns themselves were mounted. The underground structures extend to a depth of some three storeys, and had three main rooms. The shell store, cartridge store, and the power room. The guns, each of which had barrels as long as a bus, were adapted from naval guns that used to arm battleships.
"Disappeared without a trace"
Mr Stubbs explained: "The Buona Vista, and indeed the Johore Battery, were sited to be inland and out of sight from the sea for very good reasons. The 15-inch guns were indirect fire weapons. This means that they did not have to see targets in order to engage them - as you say difficult to locate and hit. Fire control was provided from remote locations. Any enemy engaging the batteries would not be certain where there fall of shot was landing, thus making enemy fire control more difficult.