During the Second World War in Malaya, Pantai Sabak recorded a number of significant historical events of our country. Pantai Sabak located in Kelantan, a state in the northeast of Malayan Peninsula, was very strategic indeed.
Due to this reason the British built strong defence forts at Pantai Sabak, as the main base in order to prevent enemy advance from the sea. Today the remnants of Pantai Sabak fortifications can no longer be seen as the beach has been eroded and are submerged by the sea.
When the war spread to Malaya, the Japanese chose Pantai Sabak as its first target. Its location in northern Malaya, close to Siam and Vietnam, where the Japanese soldiers would first encounter the area by sea.
Realising the importance of this area, the British built strong forts at Pantai Sabak to protect the nearby Pengkalan Chepa airport from being conquered by enemies.
On 8 December 1941, when the Japanese forces began to attack Malaya, Pantai Sabak became the first battlefield. The British army entrenched in Pantai Sabak opposed strongly in preventing the Japanese from landing. However, the Japanese was able to overtake the Pantai Sabak defence, and next took control of Pengkalan Chepa and the whole of Kota Bharu on 9 December 1941.
The success of the Japanese forces in conquering the town of Kota Bharu in just a day proved the strength and high morale of the Japanese army. During the attacks at Pantai Sabak, the Japanese, with the intent of spurring their fighting spirits, burned their own ships to leave their forces with no choice but to move on.
That explains why the stronghold of Pantai Sabak forts was defeated by the Japanese despite being considered a strong fortress. The strong onslaught of attacks from the Japanese forced the British army to retreat and leave Pantai Sabak fortress and Pengkalan Chepa airport to be captured by the Japanese.
To commemorate the history of the battle at this stronghold, the State Museum of Kelantan has built a monument at Pengkalan Chepa, not far from the Pantai Sabak Fortresses. This area called Taman Kediaman is proof of efforts by the State Museum to preserve the historical remnants associated with the Japanese landing on Pantai Sabak in 1941.
Pantai Sabak Fortress engraves the memory of many hardships for people of Malaya during the Japanese occupation. Despite the pain, however, there is a blessing in disguise, since the Japanese occupation had riled up the national spirit and self-reliance among the Malay community in the country.