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Kranji Barracks: What Remains Of The Now-Demolished Army Base & POW Camp From WWII

Kranji Barracks

We’re all ears whenever it’s time for an army story – whether from our grandparents recounting the old times, or our abangs in NS sharing about their BMT days. If you’re one to perk up at the sound of historical 411, we’ve got one for you: the Kranji Barracks – or what remains of it, at least. 

Though this army base was demolished nearly a decade ago, it holds a lot of significance in Singapore’s history from our time under British colonial rule till post-independence.

For more historical sites in SG:

Built by the British in the 1930s

army camp 2
Image credit:
Remember Singapore

Built by the British in the 1930s, Kranji Barracks was situated along Kranji Road, minutes away from Kranji Reservoir Park. It had 2 abandoned army camps under its wing, known as Woodlands Camp I and Woodlands Camp II.

army camp 3
Image credit:
State of Buildings

At Woodlands Camp I was the Ordinance Supply Base, which was used to store military weapons, ammunition and unused military vehicle components. Set up in 1970, it was dissolved in 1981 when the storage centre was vacated.

Once the Ordinance Supply Base became privatised, the premises were taken over by Singapore Technologies Logistics before they moved to an office in Clementi.

army camp 6
Image credit:
Remember Singapore

On the other hand, Woodlands Camp II was occupied by an artillery camp, as well as the Army School of Transport. 

Used as a POW camp during the Japanese Occupation

POW camp
Image credit:
National Heritage Board

We’ve all learnt about the Japanese Occupation during history lessons in school, and the tragic circumstances Prisoners of War (POWs) succumbed to then. While many were housed in a prison camp now known as Changi Chapel & Museum, there were also POWs in Kranji Barracks.

army camp 7
Image credit:
State of Buildings

When the Japanese took over the base, the British were caught off guard – they expected the Japanese to strike from Singapore’s northeast and Pulau Ubin instead, as their artillery was within closer range to these areas. This caused many British casualties, forcing them to give up the premises to the Japanese until the end of WWII.

Demolished in 2013 & zoned as a reserved site by URA

army camp 4
Image credit:
State of Buildings

After being abandoned for close to 3 decades, Kranji Barracks was finally torn down in 2013. The now barren piece of land has been marked out as a reserve site under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Masterplan 2014 and is likely to undergo plans to become a recreational space within the neighbourhood.

army camp 5
Kranji Marshes.

Today, it serves as a visiting point in the Kranji Heritage Trail – a self-directed trail that was organised by a group of farmers in 2011 to share with the public things to do in Kranji. Since the premises have been torn down, you’ll see an empty piece of land in the space it once stood.

Remembering Kranji Barracks

These structures were once used for outdoor training sessions and have since been demolished.
Image credit: Remember Singapore

History buff or not, it’s always exciting to learn about the lesser-known side of Singapore’s past. While pivotal events like the British rule and Japanese Occupation are no stranger to us, they are but mere figments of history which are hard for us to picture today. 

Though Kranji Barracks no longer exists, it’s played a huge role in Singapore’s military history, making it an important part of our heritage and a reminder of how far we’ve come. 

Find out more about the Kranji Heritage Trail here


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Cover image adapted from: Remember Singapore, State of Buildings