Lt. Dann (who features in many of Des’ paintings)

Lt. Dant

Alec Maurice Dann, known as Lt Dann, features in much of Des Bettany’s artwork.

 Lt Dann was born in South London on 10th June 1913, and served with the 118th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery, enlisting in the army at the start of the war.

Lt Dann died in 1993 just before his 80th birthday.  Like most ex POWs, Lt Dann didn’t divulge much of his war experience to his family, although his family understand that he acted as one of the ‘camp policemen’ at Changi, and that would fit with some of Des Bettany’s cartoons of him.

 He was in Changi POW camp from the fall of Singapore until May 1943, when he left to take a working party for the railway to the Siam Road POW Camp.  He returned to Changi 6 months later when he was sent back in charge of men suffering with dysentery.

One of the few stories he did share with his family was that at the end of the war when the allied troops dropped bags of sugar and food, Lt Dann was one of the men who found it and rationed it out, because some men who had found the bags had eaten so much that it killed them- it was such a shock to their bodies after so little food for so long.

Who knows what connection Des Bettany had with Lt Dann, as he features in a number of his artwork? Perhaps he was one of the officers attached to Des Bettany’s artillery battery; or maybe Des Bettany, as a 22 year old appreciated Lt Dann’s securing role as ‘camp policeman’, but this is pure speculation.”

The following poem written about Lt Dann by BGC in Changi Gaol POW Camp, Singapore, Sept 1944, further explains Lt Dann’s role as camp policeman…

‘The Exils’. Camp Prisonality – 2


 Lord Peter Wimsey, Sexton Blake, Nick Carter, Nelson Lee,

Would all agree I take the cake when ‘frisking’ Party ‘P’.

At dead of night or break of day I’m hot upon the scent

Of ‘two-up’ schools and stolen pay- before the cash is spent.

No subtle subterfuge escapes – no pickings from the go-down-

And bulging shirts or rolled-up capes all end up with a showdown.

These homely features hunt down clues,

and leave no stone unturned,

You’ll find I’m up to every ruse-

my nom de guerre’s well earned.



Source: The Bettany Family wish to thank Sabrina Smith (nee Dann),  Lt Dann’s grand daughter for supplying the above information.