Updated: 02/07/2014 00:32

World War II heritage tours to include Marsiling tunnels for the first time

Marsiling tunnel south entrance

Marsiling tunnel south entrance

The National Heritage Board will be conducting over 20 tours of five World War 2 sites this month to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Singapore. 

And for the first time, these tours will take the public to a little-known series of tunnels in Marsiling. 

Our reporter, John Yip, had a glimpse of what's in store. 

I was struck immediately by how easy it is to be completely unaware of the tunnels' existence. 

One moment, I was standing outside a forest along Admiralty Road West, with the Causeway in view, and the next, I was tramping along a barely visible trail towards a collection of sealed entrances. 

NHB's assistant director of research John Kwok says the tunnels were built by the British in December 1941. 

They used to lead to five underground storage tanks which served as a fuel depot for the Royal Air Force. 

Dr Kwok estimates each tank to be 45 metres (150ft) long and 6 metres (20ft) wide. 

The Japanese captured the depot in February 1942 and modified it. 

At full capacity, it would have provided enough fuel for 4 thousand Japanese warplanes. 

I asked Dr Kwok about the site's significance. 

"It's significant because of its size. It could be seen from the sky during the 1950s, and of course during the Japanese Occupation. Given its size, it's also very well preserved. Japanese wartime structures are extremely rare, and it's extremely rare to find one this size in Singapore, and I think it's one of the largest ones we actually find in the Southeast Asian region." 

The NHB will be running 6 guided tours to Marsiling Tunnels, this Saturday and the next. 

The two dates, February 8th and February 15th, mark the start and end of the Battle of Singapore in 1942. 

Each tour will take a maximum of 15 participants, and places are going fast. 

NHB Group Director of Policy Alvin Tan hopes the project will inculcate a culture of remembrance. 

"We believe that by remembering the past, we would be better able to appreciate the present and prepare ourselves for the future. And we wanted to do that through more interactive and engaging way, and that's why we're offering our series of guided tours." 

Details of registration can be found on NHB's website -www.nhb.gov.sg

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