While cycling through Xīnpí 新埤, an otherwise ordinary expanse of rural Pingtung 屏東, I was surprised to see a sign indicating that there was a “fort” somewhere in the area. I cut loose from the main road I was following and went to go investigate. After following a bend in the river just outside a small settlement I found it: a Japanese anti-aircraft fortification dating back to the late 1930s or early 1940s. I haven’t found a formal name for this fortification so I’m going to call it the Xinpi Machine Gun Tower 新埤反空降機槍碉堡 until I hear of something better.
I previously encountered similar fortifications in rural Changhua 彰化 but was unable to gain access to either of them. This time around I had no problem at all. Actually, a local man saw me taking interest in the old fort and sauntered over to let me know that I was welcome to go take a look by swinging open the door and saying as much (in English, oddly enough, which is almost completely unheard of down in the south).
The interior held no great surprises but it was still interesting to take a closer look at this World War II relic out there in the middle of nowhere. The turret had three levels: a partly flooded basement filled with trash and spiderwebs (no thanks), a central chamber with several concrete pedestals for sitting or resting weapons on top of, and an open area up top accessible by a rusty old ladder. It is strange to think that however many decades ago there were people up there watching the skies for allied planes passing overhead.
Back outside I had a brief chat with the local man who had welcomed me mere minutes ago. I asked whether there had been an airbase located nearby and he told me that this particular fortification had been built solely to defend the nearby village. He doubted it had seen any action in the war and I could see nothing that would suggest he was wrong.