During the Japanese Occupation, Keppel Harbour was the target of Operation Jaywick on 27 September 1943, one of the most successful commando raids in the Second World War.
The raid was led by Major Ivan Lyon of the Gordon Highlanders. The men from Jaywick sank 37,000 tonnes of Japanese shipping in one night. Jaywick’s success spawned the ill-fated Operation Rimau in 1944 which sought to cause damage similar to the earlier operation. Although three large merchant ships were sunk, it also resulted in the deaths of all the commandos involved, including Lyon and five others from Jaywick.
On 4 September 1945, HMS Sussex and the lead elements of the 5th Indian Division became the first Allied forces to return to Keppel Harbour after the defeat of Japan. Senior Japanese officials went onboard to coordinate the landing of Allied troops on the docks and begin the reoccupation of Singapore.
Today, while a section of Keppel Harbour remains part of one of the world’s busiest ports, most of it has been transformed for recreational use.