14th February 1938
Gibraltar of the East,
Bastion of British Might
Whatever you want to call it, the Naval Base at Sembawang in the north of Singapore Island is now open. After a chequered history, in which construction halted several times due to political changes back in England, the fifteen year construction has now come to the point where HMS Sembawang is commissioned. Amid much fanfare 11,000 people witnessed Sir Shenton Thomas, High Commissioner for the Malay States, officially open the £60million base.
Originally commenced in 1923 by conservative Stanley Baldwin, the project was stopped and started as the two major political parties rose and fell over the 15 years. Rising aggression from Japan in recent times has seen political will solidified and the construction accelerated over the last couple of years. The Straits of Johor have long been used by the Royal Navy with floating docks and other elements of the base being added through the years. The official opening fulfils the need for a formally recognised naval base with adequate personnel and defences.
Singapore is provided with air-bases, heavy artillery batteries, anti-aircraft batteries and a battalion of infantry for garrison. Any expected invasion will be by sea and the island fortress is now equipped to hold out until reinforcements are sent from England Such forces would be expected within 70 days. The King George VI dry dock is large enough to cope with any vessel in existence today, meaning the Royal Navy can service it’s far east fleet in situ.
With this base officially open and the defences suitably beefed up, Singaporeans and British expats feel wonderfully safe from any Japanese aggression towards this mainstay of the British Empire in the east.