SINGAPORE RUN-DOWN IN 1971

 

HMS SULTAN?  Well we all know where this is and what it does in the naval order of things. However, what about HMS SULTAN II?

If I were to mention HMS TERROR, what of it? Well, we all knew where that was, but why was it so called, and was the Singapore Fleet Shore Establishment always called that?

The answer to those two questions are here in this little snippet, but to cut to the point immediately, HMS Sultan II was nothing to do with Gosport in Hampshire UK, but was the name of the Singapore Fleet Shore Establishment way before it was called HMS Terror!

The construction of the Singapore NAVAL BASE began in 1922, followed a year later, by the construction of the causeway linking the Island of Singapore to the Malayan mainland.

Eleven years later in 1933, the naval base was ready and accommodation was required for personnel not embarked in warships stationed at or visiting Singapore, so the Admiralty brought the old Monitor HMS Terror in as the Naval Base Ship.  She remained as such until 1940. By 1941, Terror was in the Mediterranean using those big guns of hers to bombard the Port of Tobruk to disrupt the plans of Rommel and his Panzers.

This is she in 1941 alongside at Benghazi

In 1935, construction began ashore to accommodate the sailors attached to the Base and this was finished in 1941. It was always referred to as F.S.A., meaning Fleet Shore Accommodation.

On the 7th December 1941 the Japanese attacked the US Base at Peal Harbour.

Just three days later on the 10th December, Japanese aircraft attacked and sank two British capital ships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse. Whilst the losses were great closing a year of unbelievable materiel and personnel losses, we have to be thankful for those saved which fortunately outnumbered those lost. The survivors were taken to Singapore and they were some of the very first sailors in the newly built F.S.A.  It was these survivors who first gave the F.S.A., a real name and christened it HMS Sultan II.

Early in the next year, on the 15th February 1942, the Japanese took the Island of Singapore and with it HMS Sultan II.

It is generally well known that on the 2nd September 1945, General MacArthur took the Japanese surrender in the USS Missouri but the surrender in Singapore is much less well known. On the 6th of September 1945 {with the Island now recovered from the Japanese} in the Wardroom of HMS Sultan II, Captain H.W. Biggs R.N., Captain of the 11th Destroyer Flotilla, received the surrender of the C-in-C of the Japanese 10th Area Fleet {Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome} together with all ships and establishments in the Singapore and Johore Bahru  areas.  In addition to the ships, this included the dockyard, the naval base {HMS Sultan II] and 24,000 Japanese naval personnel of all ranks.  At this point, the F.S.A., was again officially re-commissioned as HMS Sultan II.

In 1946, HMS Sultan II was replaced with HMS Terror which had been the name of the original Base Ship.  The Base became known as the SNB [Singapore Naval Base] and HMS Terror was the Barracks for the Base.

In May 1962, although a 'stonewall frigate' HMS Terror became the flagship of COMFEF [Commander Far East Fleet].

At sunset on the 8th October 1971, the white ensign was lowered for the last time in HMS Terror and the Commanding Officer, Captain T. Bradbury Royal Navy, bade farewell to his Command.

The establishment was then renamed "Woodlands Garrison, Terror Barracks" and was administered and governed by the Australian Army.

Later on, it became SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] Terror leaving the Royal Navy the use of the SNB Stores Basin [a massive Basin accommodating many large ships together with alongside berths to each side of the Basin, which was controlled by units from the ANZAC forces of the R.A.N., and the R.N.Z.N. This photograph on my ship HMS Rothesay was taken in the Stores Basin in 1970 - me, arrowed. Note the large ship to the right {an LPD - Landing Platform Dock - an amphibious assault ship}  and that we are alongside another frigate who has the Basin wall-berth.

 

The RNCC [Royal Naval Communications Centre] at Singapore which was in the Naval Headquarters in the Yard, started its run down at this period, first, by sending all the Wren communicators back home to the UK. The WRNS had had three years on the Island and hated the prospect of no more drafts to Singapore. After much change in working conditions and with a slow and painful attrition rate {people drafted home without relief} the White Ensign above the NHQ Building [as a single naval entity] and the Flag of COMFEF, a submariner, Rear Admiral J.A. Troup DSC, were lowered for the last time on 31st October 1971.  They were replaced by the R.A.N., White Ensign, the R.N.Z.N., White Ensign, the R.N., White Ensign and the Flag of COMANZUKFOR {Commander Australian, New Zealand, UK Forces} who was Rear Admiral Wells CBE of the Royal Australian Navy.

Additionally, all other RN facilities started to shut down and one by one the likes of RN W/T Station Suara and Kranji W/T disappeared and were turned over to ANZAC forces.  See this page

http://www.godfreydykes.info/SIGNAL_SCHOOLS_OF_THE_ROYAL_NAVY.htm and scroll down to the Section "STC Singapore" to see what Kranji looked like and what became of it!

So ended the story of a navy base which lasted for only a few years when compared to the majority of R.N., bases in the UK and around the world.

See also Singapore and The Queen's Colour of the Royal Navy THE_QUEENS_COLOUR {for the Far East}