Malayan Tragedy

Malayan Tragedy

Malayan Tragedy

A poignant tribute to the suffering of the POWs. So many died, so many had physical scars but all had mental scars, their lives changed forever, and at such a young age. They would never be the same again.

No counseling in those days, once you were fit enough back in ‘civvies’, you were expected to get on with your life. Most ex POW’s of the Japanese didn’t talk about their experiences. Only other POWs would have understood, and many former POWs experienced nightmares despite their attempts to forget the horrors of the past. Many survivors lived to a ripe old age, despite their near death experience and privation at such a young age.

“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)
“The prisoner – of – war life for these four years was an object lesson in living together. The three things that could, at any time kill us all off were work, disease and starvation.”
Source: The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg131 & 284

‘It was a long time in coming when the Emperor of Japan finally surrendered to the might of the Allied Forces. The complete destruction to the two cities from the “doovers” (atomic bombs), was the final blow to bring the Imperial Japanese Army to its knees. The Emperor’s announcement was made at noon on the 15th Day of August 1945. The time and date is ital to remember in the light of future events that were planned to happen but didn’t because of the two factors’

Source: Changi Teenage Soldiers by Gerard Sampson, pg270 (an unpublished manuscript / book)

 ‘We are not in disgrace for letting Singapore be captured so easily, as we have feared we might be. Possibly it is now accepted that we were never given a chance to fight properly, never had the weapons and support which we should have had. To that we would add that political interference and ineptitude, coupled with military incompetence at high level in certain places, is a combination which the ordinary soldier cannot overcome. All he can do is fight and die or, as in our case, become a prisoner, while those responsible retire on undeserved pensions.’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant, by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, Pg 490

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

‘Many hours were spent studying the patient and thinking out ways and means of how to fit the limb so that the maximum benefit would be gained. For a time, it was one big game of trial and error. A comfortable fit would be obtained, and after the patient had worn the limb for a period, due to the wasting of the tissues of the stump, the artificial limb would have to be remade.

The limbless will remember the early days in Changi when movement was a hardship, and later (when) the manufacture of artificial limbs raised morale and enabled them to take their place in activity alongside the fit men. Prospects of fitting employment at a later date … will be the least of the worries of others who have become so expert in the use of their limbs made from the proverbial ‘scrap heap’

Source: Purdon and S.Lad, ‘Artificial – Limb Making’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 223

‘Many men had amputations performed to save their lives and many will remain permanent invalids, while all will carry scars. Very few of even the small ulcers healed up under 100 days; many are still laid low after more than one year. The human wrecks that returned from the Burma – Thailand parties in December 1943 bore evidence of what our men were forced to suffer by their hosts. It all tended to confirm our view that (the Japanese) had no time for the sick man, as in their own country, at any rate, they had adequate replacements.’

Source: Burnett Clark, ‘Skin Disease Among Prisoners of War in Malaya’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 239