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Built in 1936, the Battlebox is a former WWII British underground command centre inside Fort Canning Hill in the heart of Singapore City. It was part of the headquarters of Malaya Command, the army which defended Malaya and Singapore in WWII. It was inside the Battlebox that the British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the invading Japanese on 15 February 1942.
Today, the Battlebox is a museum that unveils the true causes behind “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”.
Our Battlebox Tour, A Story of Strategy & Surrender™, tells two stories - the fall of Malaya and Singapore in WWII, and how an underground command centre functioned during the war.
Your visit contributes entirely to the costs of running and maintaining this priceless historical monument.
THE BATTLEBOX TOUR
- A Story of Strategy
& Surrender ™ (1 hour 15 minutes)
CHILD (7 – 12 years): S$9
(Mondays, including public holidays):
1.30pm, 2.45pm, 4.00pm
(Tuesdays to Sundays, including public holidays):
1.30pm, 2.45pm, 4.00pm
OF GRAVES, GUNS & BATTLES
- A Tour of Battlebox
& Fort Canning Hill ™ (2 ½ hours)
CHILD (7 – 12 years): S$15
(Every Monday and Thursday, no tours on public holidays):
Get your tickets at the Battlebox Visitor Centre 15 minutes before your tour timing. Limited tour slots are available. We reserve the right to cap tour numbers to maintain safety and quality of the tour experience.
For group tours, school visits and other tour requests, please click here
2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622
(Fort Canning Park)
+65 6338 6133
▴ Click on map to download
Please tell the taxi driver to drive to the roundabout next to the Hotel Fort Canning. Do NOT enter the grounds of the hotel.
The Battlebox Visitor Centre is in front of the roundabout.
9.30am - 5.30pm
(including public holidays)
▴ Entrance of the Battlebox Visitor Centre
▴ Entrance of the Battlebox
The Battlebox is the #1 museum in Singapore for 2017 for TripAdvisor's annual Travellers' Choice Award.
The Battlebox is a former WWII British underground command centre inside Fort Canning Hill in the heart of Singapore City. Today, the Battlebox is a museum that unveils the true causes behind “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”.
The Battlebox Tour: A Story of Strategy & Surrender™, tells two stories - the fall of Malaya and Singapore in WWII, and how an underground command centre functioned during the war.
The story of the Battlebox is intertwined with the story of Fort Canning Hill. Today, Fort Canning Hill, a 60m-tall hill in the heart of Singapore City, is known for its lush greenery and Heritage Trees. But it also has a long and rich history going back 700 years.
Join our other tour – Of Graves, Guns & Battles: A Tour of Battlebox & Fort Canning Hill™ – to find out all about this history.
In the 14th century, Malay kings constructed their palaces atop this hill as they could be better defended in times of enemy attacks. The hill commanded a good view of the surrounding land and sea. At the time, the hill was known as Bukit Larangan, Malay for “Forbidden Hill” – commoners were forbidden from ascending it.
The British arrive and set up a port. Because of its ideal location, Bukit Larangan is chosen as the site of the Governor’s house. Hence, Bukit Larangan is renamed Government Hill.
For defence purposes, the British build an artillery fort on Government Hill. This fort is named Fort Canning, giving the hill its present name.
With the construction of more forts along the southern coastline of Singapore, Fort Canning becomes redundant and is demolished in 1926. The British immediately replace it with new command headquarters and barracks. The headquarters are for Malaya Command, the army coordinating the defence of British Malaya and Singapore.
As war loomed in the 1930s, the British decide to construct an underground command centre under Fort Canning Hill to serve Malaya Command. This top-secret, self-sufficient, bombproof bunker is completed sometime between 1936 and 1941.
Nazi Germany invade Poland, leaving Britain little choice but to declare war on Germany, heralding the start of the Second World War in Europe.
France and the Low Countries fall to Nazi Germany, leaving Britain the sole major power opposing Germany in western Europe. Britain is forced to dedicate most of its resources to protecting its home islands, leaving precious little to defend its overseas colonies – including Singapore.
Imperial Japan invade Malaya. In just two months, superior Japanese forces, led by Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita, push the Allies out of Malaya and back to Singapore Island.
From neighbouring Johor, the Japanese invade “Fortress Singapore”. After a few days, Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, General Officer Commanding of Malaya Command, moves his command into the Fort Canning bunker, known as the "Battlebox".
It is in the Battlebox that Lieutenant-General Percival makes the decision to surrender Singapore and an army of 120,000 men to the Japanese. It is Britain's largest capitulation in its military history.
Join our tour – The Battlebox Tour: A Story of Strategy & Surrender™ – to find out what led to Percival's fateful decision to surrender, and visit the bunker in which the decision was made.
The Japanese surrender on 15 August, bringing the Second World War to a close. After the Japanese surrender, and before the British return to Singapore, civilians loot the Battlebox. Instead of resuming operations in it, the British decide to seal the bunker. Subsequently, the Battlebox is forgotten for decades.
Intrepid Straits Times journalist Romen Bose “rediscovers” the Battlebox through an exposé published in the broadsheet. Thereafter, the Battlebox is refurbished and reopened as a tourist attraction.
The Battlebox, as a tourist attraction, closes.
Singapore History Consultants opens the Battlebox Visitor Centre, the gateway to 700 years of history on Fort Canning Hill.
The Battlebox finally reopens to the public. Singapore History Consultants will do its best to preserve this national treasure for future generations.
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On top of the regular A Story of Strategy & Surrender™ tours (details above), the Battlebox also offers:
To enquire about or book any one of these programmes or tours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with the following information to aid us in serving you:
If your group size exceeds 40 people, please indicate if the visit can be spread over different dates or staggered times on the same date, and if so, the preferred dates or times.
The Battlebox and the Battlebox Visitor Centre are managed and run by the Singapore History Consultants, a Singapore-based heritage and research consultancy.
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Copyright © 2016 Singapore History Consultants. All rights reserved. Landing Page Illustration by Ng Xiao Yan.