Sketch by Jack Chalker

June 1942

Captivity:- June 1942


Monday 1st.

The glorious 1st of June – had very pleasant dream last night of home, but what a blow to realise on wakening that I was still here. Daily we are marched off at dawn to work on the airport, moving no small part of a mountain in an endeavour to extend the drome and then at dusk our labours completed marched back to our bed of wooden boards.


Tuesday 2nd.

My legs just a mass of mosquito bites. Heavy rain and thunder during the afternoon - soaking wet.


Wednesday 3rd.

Glorious sunset tonight – a delight to cast the eyes upon. We have received no news since coming up here, but no news is good news. How I wish that I was home again.


Thursday 4th.

Expect this is the June holiday at home, but owing to war a quiet one. Caught in thunderstorm on way back from work – wash in rain.


Friday 5th.

The mosquito menace is serious, large numbers are already down with malaria and so to prevent further cases we burn damp grass inside hut every evening and morning.


Saturday 6th.

Cobra killed outside hut today thus we are well in the wilds of Sumatra. Saw Jap propaganda photos of sinking of PoW and Repulse. Japs say we are using gas in Burma and take it out of us with sticks.


Sunday 7th.

Working today as usual and heard some good news of our war effort. Germany being bombed good and hard. Libya situation bright and good naval victory off Midway Islands.


The Japs also must have got this news as they are grumpy and more brutish to us. Heard they are using gas – they say it is us. Had church service – story of Prodigal Son – describes our sad plight.


Monday 8th.

Japs looking in at us – the recent news has certainly upset them. I hope our immediate future is a little brighter and we will soon go free from this hell. Food situation very serious.


Tuesday 9th.

It is now rumoured that we are to be paid 10 cents for our labours. I hope it is true, as it will allow us to buy that little bit extra to increase our miserable ration of rice.


Wednesday 10th.

Japs changing our Singapore dollars at rate of 9 guilders for 10 dollars. We have 40 dollars so should now be able to buy that little extra to supplement our small rations. Still no pay from the Japs, but still hoping.


Thursday 11th.

The pangs of hunger are slowly oppressing us – never have I suffered such agony before from an empty belly. Still the Japs work us relentlessly from dawn to dusk – I fear I can’t last out.


Friday 12th.

Received 36 guilders for our 40 dollars. Those who hither to had not the patience to wait are now weeping and moaning – their greed was their own undoing. At last we can add to our daily ration.


Saturday 13th.

Many there be who cast envious eyes on our money for they had their day of plenty while we went hungry. Many new pals crowd upon us to help us spend our small fortune – we however, are too old in the horn to be lured away by flatterers.


Sunday 14th.

Had issue of 10 cigs from Japs. Today we had a fairly respectable meal at airport. We ration ourselves to 20 cents a day so our few guilders should last about 6 months and if the rumour of 10 cents a day payment is true then we should feed like lords. The more ?pork/for/or? believe in one burst up and then hunger.


Monday 15th.

The Japs complain that our Subs are blockading the islands thus we go on short rations. As an example, today they throw away 4 large tins in front of us – this was only adding insult to injury as we are starving.


Tuesday 16th.

Alas, today we were informed that henceforth we must work from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m., to finish the centre runway of the drome, before 28th. It is impossible but, we are worked beyond our capacity on less food – I often wonder if it is worth it all.


Wednesday 17th.

Once again we were worked beyond human endurance – several men fainted, unable to take the strain. We are as weak as kittens for lack of food. Worked from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Thursday 18th.

Four months captured today. Still working as usual. Japs now give us a packet of biscuits for every 500 flies we collect – they act like kids and take great delight in annoying us.


Friday 19th.

Jap doctor and Colonel visited camp today and were shocked at the pitiful conditions under which we exist. 8 men were immediately despatched to hospital – men who the Japs had forced to work while ill. Things should improve.


Saturday 20th.

Another party arrived up from Modin’s camp (Mulo School). Paid today by Japs at rate of 10 cents per day, beginning from 1st. June. Received 90 cents today for first 10 days of work – one wet day.


Sunday 21st.

Events seem to take serious turn today. All our officers were taken away hurriedly tonight for a week’s holiday – I like not the situation – now anything might happen since without officers the Japs will probably work us and treat us worse than slaves for their own ends.


Monday 22nd.

No news of what is happening has yet reached us but, by the Japs behaviour something is upsetting their plans. I am weighing up the situation every minute and should a favourable opportunity offer itself my pal and I have planned to escape. We have a fair knowledge of Malay and should do alright till Nippon is overcome.


Tuesday 23rd.

Native labour now extremely scarce. They have all disappeared into jungle. Japs are daily expecting something to develop and are taking all necessary precautions.


Wednesday 24th.

We had our finger prints taken today – apparently this is the Japanese way of obtaining a lasting signature. Cut through the main runway today, through a 60 ft. hill.


Thursday 25th.

Machine gun posts built round camp and mortar fitted up nearby. I feel now that our freedom is now not so very far away- within I hope the next three months.


Friday 26th.

Now a year since I was home, but what a change in comparison with this miserable bondage. Our camp is situated less than a mile from the drome, thus when the bombs come we shall probably suffer from a few stray shots.


Saturday 27th.

It certainly looks as if something is causing the Japs great anxiety. Every effort is being made to complete the extension to the drome and alas, it is up to us poor miserable, starved wretches who are being strained to the last grain.


Sunday 28th.

This hard work can not continue much longer else we will crack up completely – working from 6am to 10pm on rice and at the equator disproves the well known saying that the white man can not work in the tropics.


Fighter patrols   are active all night long – many fighters refuelled here during the week on way south – a good sign.


Monday 29th.

The soles of my boots have now parted company permanently with the upper- my clothes are in a similar state- shirt long since ceased to exist and only a few remaining tattered shreds of my trousers exist.


Tuesday 30th.

The complete absence of official news is our chief drawback – that the Yanks and Allies are advancing in the south is definite from the actions of our Nippon friends here. New guard has taken over the working of the camp – they can’t be a more brutal crowd than the previous bunch of villains.


Next Month



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