Relieving Paratrooper’s First Meal In Changi Gaol

Paratrooper's meal

‘On 28th August 1945 Liberator bombers flew low over Changi and let fly a stream of small sheets of paper. The war was defiantly over and a surrender had been signed.

A little while later British parachutists arrived at Changi where the bulk of the prisoners were gathered. The Japanese greeted the incredulous paratroops politely. Desmond Bettany was one of those who could see a funny side to the situation: the strapping British paratroops were by no means all tall men but they seemed to tower above emaciated prisoners and diminutive guards alike. It served naturally enough as the inspiration for a cartoon. There were those of course who lacked Bettany’s sense of humour.’

Source: Lancashire Gunners at War, (pg 128), by Stephen Bull.

‘Paratroopers landed in Singapore. They were strikingly tall guys, taller than almost every one in the Jail. They all seemed to be six feet or more, perhaps to intimidate the short statured Japanese The paratroopers made scattered landings and as soon as they got out of their chutes, carrying automatic weapons, they walked straight out to the road and stopped every car. The cars were seized on the spot and the Japanese inside were forced to get out and walk. Sometimes a Japanese protested, saying, “I am an officer”, in which case the paratrooper shouted “GET OUT”! and the officer did (at gunpoint). In the commandeered cars the paratroopers drove up to Changi Prison.’

Source: ‘Breakthrough To The Simple Past’ Jacobus Muller’s War Diary pg62 (yet to be published)

‘I remember so well the strangeness of the end of our captivity – the arrival of paratroopers from outside. In a sense, they were real outsiders. Perhaps this was due to our feeling that the life of the camp was the real life: the life which bore witness to what really counted in humanity – the spirit.’

Source: Down To Bedrock (the diary & secret notes of a Far East prisoner of war Chaplain) by Eric Cordingly,Pg 152; permission by Louise Reynolds, daughter.

“On August 15th 1945 Paddy Matthews stole a radio and heard that the war was over. The Emperor of Japan, overwhelmed by the power of atomic bombs and faced with the prospect of an invasion of Nippon, had unconditionally surrendered.
Three days later even the Japanese themselves admitted that we need no longer work. But the war had not been won; nor lost. It had simply, for the moment, stopped. They ceased to bellow ‘Currah’ and instead bowed politely when we passed. The food which they had recently declared to be non- existent, they now produced in vast quantities so that we might eat our fill. Likewise drugs appeared from everywhere and in profusion.
Then we all assembled, thousands upon thousands of men, until there were 17,000 there in Changi Gaol. British paratroopers arrived and were greeted politely by the Japanese.”
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 282

‘Aircraft flying overhead dropped six paratroopers. We were told later that these consisted of two colonels who were doctors, two paratroopers, lieutenants, and two paratroopers, privates. They were all British, and had been dropped on the aerodrome at Changi which we had built. General Saito in a staff car flying the yellow pennant which Japanese generals flew on their cars, drove up to the first paratrooper who was getting out of his parachute harness. When the paratrooper walked over to the car, the General saw that he was only a private and indicated to his driver to drive on. The paratrooper opened the car door, told the driver to get out, then the general, he then seized the car and drove around to pick up his five companions.’
Source: You’ll Never Get Off The Island by Keith Wilson; 1989, Pg 121

‘After days of men watching vacant skies for Allied planes bringing relief, and subsequently feeling deflated, radios broadcast on the evening of 29 August that a food drop would occur over the Changi aerodrome the following day. Around midday the next day a lone four-engine B-24 Liberator from Ceylon flew over the camp and dropped six British soldiers by parachute. They comprised two officers, two medical officers and two medical orderlies. Later that day three more B-24s flew over the camp and began dropping tons of supplies by parachute.

Source: Lachlan Grant, ‘Thoughts of Home: Liberation & Repatriation’, The AIF Forestry Company’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 340

‘To prevent mass murder of the internees and POWs, Mountbatten ordered British paratroopers to land in Singapore, Thailand, Burma and elsewhere to protect the camps. All of a sudden, there were six soldiers dressed in a uniform I’d never seen marching through the camp wit the Japanese commnadant to the hospital. They were British paratroopers. I’d never seen their red berets before, or their guns – Sten guns, I found out later.’

Source: The Battle for Singapore by Peter Thompson, pg 417

‘So the great day for which we had waited for three and a half years dawned and most of the Japs disappeared. The few that remained, instead of being brutal guards, became very servile and instead of us bowing to them, they bean bowing to us. A few days later some British officers and men dropped in by parachute and, in case they were in need of a haircut, I got in touch with them. I had my first taste of normal food, some eggs and bacon. What a marvellous treat after eating rice for three and a half years!’

Source:  ‘A Cruel Captivity’ by Ellie Taylor, 2018, page 74, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., (Words of Able Seaman William Coates Nicholls)