‘Give Us A Go Dig, Break It Down A Bit, Will Yuh!!’: Roman Soldier to Winston Churchill (1945)

ChurchillHelp needed, if you can give some insight as to what Des’ painting may mean, please contact us via the ‘comments’ section on this site.

Some comments to date  include:

  • As for the “Roman Soldier” cartoon, while the Roman Army was being analyzed (by historians) as a superb war machine, focus had begun to shift to the individual legionnaire, who was (and still is) regarded as one of the hardiest, toughest and most disciplined warriors of all times, accustomed to break camp at dawn (a fortified camp with moat and palisade), march 30 miles per day, drill, march some more, and then set camp again at dusk. All that in times of peace.
    So the cartoon, while indeed political, doesn’t refer to any particular circumstance but the common footman’s plea, saying that even a Roman legionnaire would have asked Churchill for a little less strain. Big, though and battered he’s still asking for a break!
    Source: Thank you to Ariel Valsagna for sharing thoughts on this matter.
  • This cartoon shows Churchill unleashing a massive sea and air attack across a body of water. The POWs heard about D-Day (6 June 1944) via their clandestine radio sets and would no doubt have rejoiced in this major advance in the defeat of the Axis powers. We assume that this cartoon was drawn in celebration of Allied victories in the European theatre, although one former Changi POW interprets it as a criticism of Churchill for under-equipping the Allied troops in the south-east Asian theatre, a neglect which led to the fall of Singapore (see below for alternative view). There are no doubt other interpretations; unfortunately we cannot ask the artist. The mystery of why a giant, battered Roman soldier is appealing to Churchill is possibly explained by the fact that Des, having had his sketch book confiscated and narrowly avoiding severe punishment for satirising the Axis powers, couldn’t show Hitler or Hirohito begging Winnie for mercy, so instead he depicted a symbol of the most powerful Empire in history (other than the British) – the Roman Empire. Des’s art is noticeably free of overt criticism of his captors and their allies; his narrow escape possibly explains why. We can only wonder what was is the confiscated sketch book, which never reappeared.
  • An ex POW of Changi has suggested that this ink wash painting by Des of what seems to be a battered, weary Roman Soldier crawling out of the sea,  (Johore Straits?),  having ‘a go’ at Winston Churchill standing on land, (Singapore?),  could have been Des’ protest at a seriously ill equipped Allied force. In the background can be seen many ships, presumably leaving, (the Allies had 2 ships that were sunk), while above can be seen squadrons of various aircraft leaving. The Allies had only a sixth of the number of aircraft that the Japanese had at their disposal. On top of this,  the Allies had no tanks with which to blast the enemy while the Japanese rolled over the inhospitable terrain with something in the order of 300. The Japanese troops were trained for jungle warfare. The Allies were quickly wearied by the oppressive heat and humidity. In the background also can be seen explosion, as the war grinds on.
  • The Third Reich (from 1933 to 1945), called Nazi Germany, was under Hitler’s control. He called it the Third Reich because he thought that under his leadership Germany could reunite the old Holy Roman Empire, bringing Germany back to its glorious days. This Reich was terminated with the fall of Germany at the end of World War II.  This is an interesting question because most people don’t know why Hitler started World War II and what was his objective. Of course his delusional beliefs about the supremacy of the German Race and the necessity to reinstate The German Empire (that he believed was the heir of the Roman splendor) cost our world millions of lives, and his country years of poverty and suffering.

Source: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/4009

“In a cable to Wavell on 10 February 1942, the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, demanded the defenders of Singapore fight to the last:

‘There must at this stage be no thought of saving the troops or sparing the population. The battle must be fought to the bitter end at all costs.’”

“John Curtin (Prime Minister of Australia) took professional opinion and acted on it. To do so, he had to stare down Churchill in the great diplomatic crisis of the war for Australia. As ever, Churchill thought Australian troops were his to place where he pleased.”

“To advance these ambitions, Japan joined Hitler and Mussolini in a formal diplomatic treaty – the Axis Pact – signed on 27 September 1940 and followed up with secret military planning.”

Source: The Long Road To Changi, Ewer Peter, 2013, pg 275, 282 &37

“I would not tolerate the idea of abandoning the struggle for Egypt, and was resigned to pay whatever forfeits were exacted in Malaya. This view was also shared by my colleagues.”
“I am sure that nothing we could have spared at this time, even at the cost of wrecking the Middle Eastern theatre or cutting off supplies to the Soviet, would have changed the march of fate in Malaya.”
(Winston Churchill: The Grand Alliance)
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 284
‘Our thinking is greatly clarified by our circumstances. There are no bars to hard objective logic and nobody to accuse us of (as they saying goes) causing alarm and despondency among the troops, not do we have to be concerned with the tender egos of interfering politicians. In fact, we have a hard – earned right to criticize anybody who has failed us, as severely as we wish, and we take full advantage of that! Churchill will have a lot to answer for, when the war is over, in my opinion.’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, pg 328 (relating to the condition of POW’s on Thai Burma Railway)Extracts from One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek reprinted by permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Copyright © Ian Denys Peek 2003
’We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.’ Winston Churchill. … However, after surviving Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940, dad was forced to surrender to the Japanese in Singapore, Feb 1942 due to all talk & little action resulting in poor naval & air support. He painted to keep sane.