Happy pianist, hitting out a tune (1945)


‘The Piano’
A Morrison upright now sits in the ex-POW Association rooms in Sydney. A member of the concert party talks about finding the piano in Singapore and hauling it back to the camp through the wire.

In the early days POW’s had a lot of time on their hands so there were some creative ways of finding the things needed by the concert party.

And then there were other ‘creative’ ways of finding things for the concert party. As men went out to work they would try and find things they thought the concert party might need. Over the years musical instruments, including a piano and drum kit, clothes and a sewing machine found their way to the concert party. Although it was forbidden to bring these things into the camp, if the POW’s managed to smuggle them in they would be allowed to keep them.’

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/changi/life/concerts.htm

‘Jack Boardam was the pianist, composer and arranger for the Changi Concert Party during three years of his three-and-a-half year imprisonment. The entertainment he provided had a big effect on the moral of his fellow POWs. In February 1945 the Japanese banned further concerts and Jack was sent out to work on the Changi airstrip, the gaol incinerator and other tasks.’ I wonder if this image is him at full flight?

Source: http://www.austhistmuseum.mq.edu.au/exhibits/selarang/changi.htm

‘With one review running, another would be in rehearsal, a third would be drying on the innumerable pieces of dirty paper on which it was written and a fourth would be under discussion. The circle was unending, exhausting and vicious in the extreme: but never let it be imagined that anything about these productions was either slap – dash or amateurish. …

The Concert Party became the instrument which relieved the camp of its boredom, provided it with its slang and  – in times of extreme crisis – saved it from despair.’

Source: Unknown Author, ‘On with the Motley: The Changi Concert Party’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg. 140