Changi Commando Barrack

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

43 Responses to Changi Commando Barrack

  1. Joash Goh says:

    How did you manage to get in?

  2. Stickman says:

    There is another compound that uses the same architecture called the White House. it is located in Nee Soon Camp on top of a hill and used to serve as the officer’s mess until the Singapore Armed Forces Band took it over. It houses recording and rehearsal studios and offices for the SAF bands. The music that you hear during NDP nowadays is most likely recorded there.

    the Music and Drama company is there as well, albeit in a new wing.

  3. Eddy says:

    Hi guys… is this Commando Barracks @ near Fairy Point still around??? I had a hard time searching for it 2 weeks ago

  4. Ivan says:

    anybody know the gps location?

  5. Peter Modley says:

    During the late 1960s and until at least mid-1970 this was the HQ Far East Air Force (HQ FEAF) Officer’s Mess for the staff of HQ FEAF. It was know as Fairy Point Officer’s Mess
    The RAF Changi Officer’s Mess was completely separate at the Temple Hill complex on RAF Changi and was for RAF Changi station personnel as opposed to those on the HQ FEAF staff.

    I have posted a photo of the Fairy Point Mess in all its glory, taken by my father in 1969, on Google Earth.

  6. rufino1995 says:

    There is another army camp that I do hope you could find some Photos of, in the 70’s in was used for BMT training and also the The SAF Boys school graduates as their scout school (Rhinco), it is ITD Infantry Training Depot… at Sembawang, where the Navy had a mess or base inside the camp as well.. very interesting time I was as a recruit instructor.

  7. Grace Loh says:

    The building here reminds me of a house I saw in the forested area of Dairy Farm Nature Park. I am curious about its history but can’t find anything on the internet about it.

    • Nick says:

      Saw that house too, also wondering about it. Did you happen to see the two caves. Heard that it was used by the british to hide in back then during the war……

  8. Alfred Yip says:

    I used to go there often but that was back in the early till late 90s… Our battalion often use it for CQB walk through

  9. Margaret Jeary says:

    We Brits make a huge effort to preserve historical buildings. Pity the same couldn’t be done for this one and Changi Hospital.

  10. Jacqueline V. Littler says:

    I absolutely agree with Margaret’s comments(above). When one sees the huge building work going on in Singapore and the money that is being spent. Surely some of it could go on preserving these two sites in Changi. The past must NEVER be completely erradicated.

  11. Jeff Geraghty says:

    I have a picture of my father, I believe, outside this building whilst stationed in Singapour during WW2. The exact dates I do not know. It was probably towards the end of the war, 1944/45. He was serving with the Gordon Highlanders.

  12. aliogoi says:

    Luckily I managed to explore this place many years ago … during my foray to the old hospital (when it was still unfenced). So many hidden treasures in Spore,

  13. AbdFaizal says:

    Since the Brits are the one who erected he building, does this means that approval is required from the British Govt before it can be tear down? I got to admit that the blog has inspired me to start my own heritage trail of Singapore before everything is gone. I do not how to show you my appreciation and convey my sincere regards.

  14. Found a 1965 map of the RAF Changi from The History of Changi… The barracks were used as the Fairy Point Officers’ Mess then

  15. how can i go in to the house bro no police one ???

  16. At the end of Changi Fairy Point, there is a hidden path to the jetty, covered with vegetation and red ants

  17. Roy says:

    I think this building was used as a filming site by TCS for their 1997 WW2 drama, The Price of Peace. Does anyone rmb the Kempeitai headquarters in the show?

  18. Xin Li says:

    the Command House is now part of some conference/retreat complex known as Changi Cove. Luckily I get to visit it before the renovation.

    Changi Cove :
    our visit in September 2011:

  19. Trivia: The Changi Commando Barrack was one of the shooting sites for Liang Po Po The Movie (梁婆婆重出江湖) in 1999

  20. Mark says:

    i remember that old building during late night sentry duty and the courtyard where we did warm-ups for the morning runs, etc.

  21. Lester says:

    Check out tuas village.. located just alongside tuas second checkpoint.. its a old abandoned village (very nice buildings) currently now used for police gurkha training.

  22. Peter Todd says:

    I am visiting Singapore early next year and hoped to see some of the Nee Soon Barracks and Semberwang Barracks where I was stationed with 95 Cdo RA in 1970-71.
    Any got any pictures

  23. Valuable vintage photos contributed by Raine Bryant (Thanks!)

    My Grandfather was in the RE and involved in building the Barracks at Changi 1934-35. The 5th and 8th photo show the roof being made. I did have one of water buffalo clearing the site to start but can’t find it at present. I donated the originals to the Changi Museum and they are now their property.

    Regards Raine

    (Photo credit: Raine Bryant)

  24. Peter Todd says:

    Just been to Transit Road entrance to barrack. They would not let me in or take any photos inside but got some of transit road and the stalls/shop. They are all due to be demolished and make way for new building next year.
    Photos to follow when I get home to UK.

  25. Callie Lee says:

    is this the current Raintr33 hotel?

  26. TTY Marie says:

    In 1977, there was a seminary (don’t know where they moved to) located in front of the commando camps. We hear our soldiers sing while marching so very often. There was an SBS bus that came all the way there, then.

    Talking about being “haunted”. Yes, it was and probably still is. We all who board at the seminary had first hand experience of such an encounter but given that the freshmen were ever so rowdy, they kept the spooks at Bay sometimes, I think.

    Once, we took photos for our annual magazine and every picture had a sillouette over it. The faint lines of the face of a man that one might see on ancient Chinese tombstones. The photographers and studios were clueless how it got there. In fact the studio manager asked how did we “superimpose” a face like such. We were thrilled but not afraid for He that live in us is greater than “it” that is in the world. My boyfriend (then but now an ex husband since 1997), spent many late evenings in the open gardens of these old buildings, ghost or ghoul didn’t quite scare people who were deeply in love.

    Fairy Point is one of the few places you could enjoy English landscaping and feel a very “Jane Eyre” admosphere (minus the horses).

    There was a chapel there as well, if it is still there.

    Fairy Point is part of our heritage with rich histories (both English, Japanese and local) behind it. At this point, I am not even sure if it is still there. I will venture though.

  27. Changi’s Commando Camp is the home of the Red Berets, but #didyouknow it used to be a swampy and hilly area, with only one 26km-long road connecting it to town? That was exactly why the British chose to build one of its largest military bases in Changi back in the 1920s, to protect their troops from diseases seen in heavily populated towns.

    It became home to the Commandos in 1971, where our soldiers underwent some of the toughest training in the SAF to earn that coveted red beret.

    The current Hendon Camp was inaugurated in 1993. It retained use of the southern buildings of the old Commando Camp, while some buildings located in the north – such as the Commando Headquaters in 1 Fairy Point Hill – were put up for bidding and became part of privately-owned hotels and more.

    Source: Ministry of Defence Singapore (MINDEF) Facebook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s