‘Yes, In The Canteen, One Man One! (1945)

One man one

Another example of Des exaggerating what really didn’t occur in Changi at all, but trying to look on the funny side and the opposite extreme of what really occurred. Des seldom painted starving figures, as he told many ‘I painted to keep my sanity’. It seems clear that this must have been much need therapy for him.

Here we have one POW running with a huge pineapple, stating to the other POW that there is one for everyone in the canteen, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Note that the POW’s are also well dressed with  shorts and even well shod boots. In reality they were just wearing home made footwear and even had to make footwear for their Japanese captors, and would have been wearing just ragged loin cloths or G strings. They both appear to be in good health with pink skin and plenty of ‘meat’ and strength, which also would not have been true.

Details about a real incident with a pineapple and the Australians knack of being ‘collectors’ follows.

From early 1942 the Japanese began sending the POW’s on work parties around the island and Australians quickly got a reputation for being master smugglers. Anything that could be concealed under a hat, or a g-string was worth a try.

Prisoners risked a severe beating if they were caught, but it was often worth it because they often got to keep the spoils. They became experts in ‘crutching’

“I got this small-sized pineapple. I pushed it right down into my crutch, in between my legs. Anyway we marched back home and I was bow-legged all the way, ripped raw and sore. I got me pineapple home, and six of us had a feed out of it, just added it to the rice. It was most delicious. It was well worth the effort”

‘Food supply and the maintenance of health were the most critical problems to be faced. After the first fortnight, during which British army rations were issued, prisoners had to make do with the Japanese ration scales, which consisted mainly of rice, and it was only gradually that the cooks devised means of making it palatable. Apart from rice, a little tea, sugar and salt were issued, together with the occasional ration of meat or fish. The Japanese refused to allow Red Cross relief parcels to be distributed, so any supplementing of the meagre rations depended on the ingenuity of the prisoners themselves. It was not difficult to find one’s way out of the camp, and some of the more intrepid prisoners would forage among the old British Army dumps and sell their finds at black market prices.’

Snow Peat – Prisoners of War – Australians under Nippon by Hank Nelson’ & http://www.abc.net.au/changi/life/concerts.htm & http://ukmamsoba.org/changi.htm

“To the accompaniment of the usual bellows of ‘Currah’, ‘damme, damme’, ‘Speedo’ and ‘one man one’, we lugged bombs from 250 pounders down.”  (unable to help mates). “We had to cut down and weave through the dense jungle 40 foot lengths, 9 inches in diameter of bamboo. It was a tiresome task rendered not any the easier by the fact that the cavity running down the centre of each bamboo as filled with water, nor by the Japanese guards hoarse shouts of ‘one man one’ and ‘Speedo’.”
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg172 & 200