Trading Watch

Trading Watch

“The image about trading watches has an interesting background because by 1943 there were no watches available in any of the camps. All of the men’s watches had been traded in for food and sometimes much needed drugs for the Hospital, trading with either the Guards or locals was commonplace. The son of an ex POW states:

‘my Dad let his watch go and never bought another, he managed perfectly well without one for the rest of his life. Like all the other POW he became uncannily accurate at guessing what time it was.’”


‘One man made a small engraving machine which could be used to inscribe ‘Rolex Waterproof’ on the back and face of even the cheapest watch so that it became worth thousands of dollars on the black market.’
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 246

‘We often agreed amongst ourselves that being an ex – Japanese prisoner of war was like being a member of the most exclusive club. Amongst us there has always been a mutual dependence which is understood but never stated. The fact that we knew what each other had lived through was enough. Socially, we recalled humorous incidents, mostly stories that were at the expense of the Japanese; how so and so had outwitted a certain guard or got away with sneaking out of camp to trade at night. Just as it had in captivity, the ritual of humour offered escape. If unpleasant elements of the past were raised they would be discussed in a dispassionate manner, getting whatever it was off our chests and moving on quickly. There was never the need to talk of specific suffering, nor a call to enter into personal exchanges centring on pity or sentiment. That wasn’t our way; we remained crack – hardy men.’

Source: A Doctors War, by Dr Rowley Richards, pg 290, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006.