Sketch by Jack Chalker

Camp Radio

PART NINE

Camp Radio

From the capitulation on the 15th February 1942, wireless sets, irrespective to their size, or how they were made, have been operating, therefore news of the war has been circulating to P.O.W's sometimes with the Nips knowledge, but mostly run secretly.

At the commencement, large sets without headphones were used, news sheets printed and circulated, but this did not last long as accumulators could not be recharged, spare parts or valves could not be purchased, and the Nips were on the warpath. So if news had to be received, sets must be made and concealed, portable and batteries had to be stolen, may I tell you of a few examples of these sorts of sets: -

1 An ordinary sweeping brush was made, in two parts, one to hold the bristles the other to hold the wireless set. This part was hollowed out, and three brass screws inserted so that they could be operated from the outside, these were the control screws. If the Nips carried out a search it was just another sweeping brush.

2 A large Surgical Water Bottle, approximately twice the size of an ordinary water bottle was mostly used. The felt cover was removed, then commencing two inches from the top, the water bottle was sawn the centre and then right to the bottom, so that you had a piece of the water bottle completely taken away from the remainder, this was then hinged. A false bottom, watertight of course, was fixed to the top portion, so that on the march, and a search was carried out, the bottle did contain water. The wireless set complete with valves, was made and inserted in the lower portion, when not in use, it was closed and the felt cover was put back on again. It was used with earphones. This type was mainly used on the Railway.

Water Bottle Radio

 

3 Installed in a small Coffee tin, approximately 6 inches deep two inches wide by four inches long, complete with valves.

Bamboo Chair Radio

4 Installed in a home made bamboo arm chair, the wireless sets in one arm, the batteries in the opposite arm, connected in the back support by wiring, this was used quite openly in one of the base camps.

In 1944, early in the New Year, the Nips carried out a surprise search at Khan-Chan-Buri, and found certain P.O.W.'s in possession of wireless sets. Five officers and two other ranks were apprehended and lodged in the No Good House. They were beaten unmercilessly for days, knocked insensible, brought round again and beaten again. Two officers were beaten to death.

The other three were taken to the Bangkok Jail and interrogated under Gestapo methods, made to confess and sentenced to Solitary Confinement for Life.

This set the ball rolling, the Nips carried out thorough and intensive searches of all camps. Officers were taken from most camps to Khan-Chan-Buri and severely interrogated by the Nips.

They found out the wireless sets had been running at most camps since the capitulation of Singapore, at Changi, Kranzi, Havelock Road, River Valley, etc. and that the latest news had been received and passed on to all P.O.W's.

In Thailand, on the commencement of building the Railway, news was received by wireless at Khan-Chan-Buri, this news processed and secretly typed on to news sheets and sent in hollow bamboo's to camps up the river. Later water bottle wireless sets were made and used in river camps. To stop the Nips learning that we were receiving this news by wireless, it was not issued to the camp until six or seven days had passed.

Batteries were the biggest trouble to get or to carry on the march, but this was soon overcome. At all the camps, P.O.W.'s worked in the Nip Stores, this is how we got our batteries. When we left the camp they would be buried, we knew that we could get some more at the next camp.

In September 1944, it became too risky to run wireless sets, punishment was too severe if persons running the set were caught and it may also lead to severe reprisals on the whole camp. The method adopted to get news was as follows: - Men volunteered to go outside the camp, contact either Thai or Chinese and bring back into the camp, Chinese newspapers, which were deciphered. Small news sheets were made and read out to certain P.O.W's, who in turn would pass it secretly throughout the camp.

At one camp, the Nip's got wise, they could not understand how P.O.W's were getting to know the news, sudden searches were made, but nothing was found. Closer watches and extra guards were put on duty. One night, unlucky for some, three P.O.W's were caught outside the camp and in their possession were found, Chinese Newspapers. They were beaten until they confessed that they had brought newspapers to be deciphered and news extracted from them. This certainly put the lid on matters, dozens were implicated, dozens were sweating on bad times, but luckily, the same night as the P.O.W's were caught, the person who did the deciphering died. So everybody implicated with the following exceptions, [one officer and the three P.O.W's caught], were now free from further trouble with the Nips.

From that date, December 1944, most news was received from Thai's or Chinese.

 

Next Chapter

Air Raids and Bombing

 

 

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