Built in 1935, this grand-looking colonial building was the former British Royal Engineers’ Command Building. Despite its current dilapidated condition, the two-storey building still shows glimpses of its former beauty of Neo-Classical design, completed with Doric columns and arch-shaped verandah.
At its main entrance, there is a stone sign carved with the letters RE (stands for Royal Engineers), the year 1935 and the torch of fire (symbol of RE).
The Commando Barracks stands on the Fairy Point Hill near Andover Road. Looking over towards Serangoon Harbour and the Johor Straits, it was used by the British as a focal point for the defense of the eastern part of Singapore, especially during the Second World War when it was part of the air and naval base against the Japanese invasion from the sea.
The building was briefly used as a retreat for private companies when the British withdrew in the seventies. Years later, it was taken back by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) as the headquarters for the Commandos, before it was vacated again when the HQ Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation (HQ CDO) moved to the nearby Hendon Camp.
Along with Old Changi Hospital, Changi Commando Barracks are famous for its haunted stories. When Singapore fell during the Second World War, this place was rumoured to be used by the Japanese to house thousands of British and Australian prisoners-of-war.
Due to the many years of abandonment, it was a favourite spot for exploration for the young and daring, until it became out of bounds to the public in recent years.
For decades, the yellow building has been the prominent landmark in this area, and has been included in the Changi Heritage Walk.
However, the historic building may be refurbished into a recreational center or a clubhouse by the Fairy Point Hotel which has begun their construction after 2007, when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) put the site up for sale.
Published: 17 December 2011