GEORGE TOWN: Left abandoned, unkempt and in filthy condition – the World War II pillboxes (bunkers) scattered all over the state are in dire need to be restored back to their glory days.

Some of these historic military pillboxes are believed to have been around for more than half a century.

State tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said restoration work for the 14 pillboxes was expected to start next month.

“About RM800,000 has been allocated by the state government during the state executive councillor meeting recently.

“George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) will be responsible for the restoration work,” he said.

He said he hoped that once the restoration is completed, it will be one of the tourist attractions in the state.

Meanwhile, GTWHI general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said 13 pillboxes on the island and one on the mainland have been identified so far.

“We believe there are more, but so far these are the ones we have found. Some of the pillboxes are still okay but some are quite dilapidated.

“Information and data on these 14 pillboxes have been included in the state’s pillbox inventory draft before they are conserved and restored,” he said.

“It is important to conserve the pillboxes as this does not only protect the state’s heritage value but can also benefit the local community.”

Pillboxes are defensive line bunkers but smaller, commonly used during wartime to camouflage remote guard posts.

The British military manned hundreds of pillboxes along the coast of Malaya during WWII in anticipation of a Japanese invasion.

They were built by both the British as well as the Japanese and each pillbox can accommodate a couple of soldiers manning machine guns.Back then, soldiers would crouch on the ledge. The concrete ceiling was just inches above their head.

They would try to position themselves with a machine gun aimed outward under one simple order – to watch the enemy.