Straits Settlements Volunteer Force

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Crest of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, which was part of the SSVF.

The Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF) was a military reserve force in the Straits Settlements, while they were under British rule. While the majority of the personnel were from Singapore, some lived in other parts of the Settlements, including Penang, Province Wellesley, Malacca and Labuan.


The SSVF had its origins in the Singapore Volunteer Artillery Corps, formed in 1888. In 1915 it helped suppress the mutiny of Sepoys in Singapore. The SSVF was officially formed in 1922, following the amalgamation of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps, Malacca Volunteer Corps, and Labuan Volunteer Defence Detachment. In 1928, the SSVF infantry was re-organised into 4 battalions. The 1st and 2nd battalions consisted of members of the Singapore Volunteer Corps (1,250 men), the 3rd battalion consisted of the Penang & Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps (916 men) and the 4th Battalion consisted of the Malacca Volunteer Corps (675 men). Besides the infantry, the rest of the SSVF consisted of the Singapore Royal Artillery, Singapore Royal Engineers, Singapore Armoured Car Company and 3 ambulance units.[1][2]

World War II[edit]

Volunteer troops training with a Lewis machine gun, November 1941

As international tensions heightened during the 1930s, an increasing number of men of the various nationalities in the Settlements — predominantly European, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian — joined the SSVF. It included naval, air force, special operations, irregular units (such as Dalforce) and home guard units. The SSVF — including four infantry battalions — took part in the Battle of Singapore in 1942, and most of its members were captured on 15 February 1942 when their positions were overrun. The SSVF was reconstituted in 1948. In 1954, the Singapore Volunteer Corps was absorbed into the Singapore Military Forces when the SSVF was disbanded.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The History of The Volunteers". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 24 August 1929. p. 13. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Singapore Volunteer Corps was first in Empire". The Straits Times. 1 June 1957. p. 9. Retrieved 8 November 2018.


  • Eternal Vigilance, the Price of Freedom; compiled by Foong Choon Hon, translated by Yuen Chen Ching; Asiapac Books, Singapore; 2006
  • Lee Geok Boi; The Syonan Years - Singapore under Japanese Rule 1942 - 1945; National Archives of Singapore; 2005