Sketch by Jack Chalker

April 1942

Captivity:- April 1942


Wednesday 1st.

Settled down in new quarters across the road (ChungWha). A large number of Dutch arrived today, survivors from destroyer, who gave us all the latest news – that Britain had started the attack on Europe. Expect McLeod caught some innocents (?) today.


Thursday 2nd.

It will be interesting to learn how ignorant we are about the course of the war after it is all over - ignorance is bliss. Stinking fish and bad rice for all meals now, so life is far from pleasant.


Friday 3rd.

Had whist drive tonight - good and spent a pleasant evening. Have now some English books of 1931-35 and although some out of date, a welcome change from the grim stories of war. Had short service during evening for Church of England lads. Shaved off my beard.


Saturday 4th.

Now feeling fine after our 10 days of hard work, which did us no end of good. Must salute and stand to attention when any officer or, soldier passes. Natives require to bow and take off hat –  the yellow vermin.


Sunday 5th.

The remaining party came back from Banka last night – 1 sailor died on the journey. Feels a bit queer now without a beard to tug and pull, but much fresher and healthier without it. Had service today.


During trip up country every day at dawn the Japs facing East, prayed to the sun and emperor, likewise at dusk, thereafter indulging wholeheartedly in a strenuous 15 minutes of P.T.


Monday 6th.

The rice now in extremely bad condition, but Japs insist we eat it. Now have over 600 men in this camp alone – a goodly number and not too large for catering arrangements.


Tuesday 7th.

Japs state that Churchill said that they were starving their prisoners – a well known fact. For the insult, the Japs have put us on short rations, i.e. no breakfast. How we shall survive God knows.


Wednesday 8th.

Now we know the agony of the pangs of hunger - rice has absolutely no substance therefore unable to sustain the body. We go 15(?18) hrs without a meal each day. Apparently the Japs find it difficult to get supplies through – the easy part was to capture the island- the hard part is to keep it.


Thursday 9th.

Every effort is being made to get our names through to Admiralty. I hope they succeed and the folks at home informed as soon as possible.


Friday 10th.

Out working today at aerodrome rolling petrol barrels from runways into hiding in the jungle about mile away and then shifting bombs indoor – hardly a job for prisoners of war!


Saturday 11th.

At aerodrome working as usual, extending runways. Many RAF lying destroyed on the ground.

Work hard and heat killing. Read through my last letters from home - what a joy!


Sunday 12th.

Working as usual. Attempts made to contact British Government as regards pay for prisoners – we are absolutely starving. Sickness and disease is rife – our diet is not sufficient to ward off disease.


I have the misfortune of keeping in fairly good health and thus out in all the working parties however, it’s a good sign.


Monday 13th.

Japs intend building new quarters for us on the golf course according to our own design and expect to go there in about 6 weeks time, large party out today as usual. All clothes dirty.


Tuesday 14th.

Had rest today so did my washing – without soap of course. It is rumoured that we are going to Singapore in about 3 months time. Hope it is true as the Red Cross will probably be in touch with the lads there and in addition, there is safety in numbers.


Wednesday 15th.

 No work today again. Heavy rain and thunderstorm during day. Heard Germany capitulated – ?????



Killed Tarantula at the drome today. Jap guard doubled round our place- they are expecting some trouble from the natives and also fear of American invasion – we hope.


Friday 17th.

I’m now a navvy of 2 months special training under all kinds of weather. Loading trolleys and excavating all day. Seen the graves at side of road in ditches, of British and Dutch troops – some were visible, the thin covering of earth having been washed away.


Saturday 18th.

Two months captured today. It’s a pitiful sight to see men grow lean and pine away. A seaman removed to the hospital today, who went off his head with this life.


Sunday 19th.

We are now being removed from this school to atap huts on the aerodrome in the near future. No water and no sanitisation so disease will be rife once again. If I survive I should be a fully qualified navvy capable of withstanding all weathers.


Monday 20th.

Two men who escaped at Djambi captured and taken back to the camp. Still a welcome guest of the Jap Government and still without any news of the outside world. Average Jap soldier seems fully convinced that they will conquer the world.


Tuesday 21st.

Rest today. Heard that two Tarbert nurses are also prisoners here, from a Glasgow fellow. Jenny McAllister name of one, but he could not remember the other – it’s a small world. Possibly one of the Oggs?


Wednesday 22nd.

Most of our officers left today for another camp and the RAF personnel came here to swell the numbers of the working party. Had a half day off from work and deserved it.


Thursday 23rd.

Had day off to settle down and get things in order. Japs gave an issue of 10 cigs per man. Held a concert in courtyard at night and greatly enjoyed.


Friday 24th.

Our spirits, greatly elated by the performance of the band last night, were soon restored to zero with the Japs at working party. The future is far from promising as far as we are concerned – and work from dawn to dusk seems imminent.


Saturday 25th.

There are about 800 men in camp – British, Dutch, Malays and Indians. Excitement is intense – Japs have black-out here and news is that American troops are fighting in the north.


Sunday 26th.

Natives have set fire to two oil wells. Wrote home today. When it will arrive I can not say, but at least has put my mind to rest.


Japs now got about 5000 natives working at drome, but if the war looks up a bit I hope they will stop sending us up there.


Monday 27th.

At drome working. The work is heavy and the intense heat is slowly breaking us down. Some at docks loading ships with loot taken from Dutch houses. Heard rumour we had air raid during night.


Tuesday 28th.

Working down at the docks unloading lighters. A few transports of 700 tons in the river and one destroyer. Had spoonful of sugar issue for supper.


Wednesday 29th.

All my hair cut off today – a perfect romp. Party working at the docks kept well at it into the night. Japs had holiday today for Emperor’s birthday. Natives celebrate with parade of brass band.



Blowing up damaged planes at drome. Japs flooding country with their own guilders. Natives buying up our Singapore dollars at rate of $10 for 8 guilders. Still the welcome guest of the Japanese government.


Next Month



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