Making Boot Polish & Cricket Ball Covers

Making Boot Polish & Cricket Ball Covers

Boot polish was produced by mixing bad eggs, sugar and wood alcohol.  Moulding cricket balls was one of the first tasks of Changi Industries.

This image of Des Bettany’s artwork has been reproduced with permission from the book ‘Don’t Ever Again Say “It Can’t Be Done”’ published by The Changi Museum, Singapore.

‘It may sound, from the foregoing, that we had only to decide to indulge ourselves in a sport and the materials were immediately forthcoming. But that was not so. Although there were many different articles of sporting gear at the commencement of the camp, it must be realised that these were irreplaceable when worn out, with the result that cricket bats were nailed together or tied with wire, balls were such that no self – respecting street Arab would be ashamed to play with, while tennis balls were used until every vestige of fabric was worn off them and the bare rubber cracked up under the strain.’

Source: Rex Bucknell, ‘The Panzer Division’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg. 158

‘Suitable moulds were manufactured and numerous small appurtenances, such as mixing bowls (old tins), and scraping knives of chrome (made from motor car radiators) were made or ‘scrounged’, and within a few days the factory was ready to commence production.’

Source: Robert Moffett, ‘Rubber Factory Report’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 203

‘On 31st December 1942, Captain Albert Symonds was sent back to Changi …. where he was appointed to be in charge of the camp workshops.

In a community the size of Changi, as a need arose, someone was found with the knowledge or ability to produce what was required … rubber sandals, rope, nails, the list was endless and it included making coffins.

He continued to run the workshops for the duration of his captivity, at the heart of an enterprise which saw prisoners employing remarkable ingenuity to fashion everyday but, nonetheless, vital objects from the most basic materials.

We acquired barrack room lockers … which we cut, shaped and welded into dixies, mugs, baking trays, buckets and pails. We produced toothbrushes and brooms using the same palm fronds that we used for attap. Clogs were mad from motor tyres and from soft rubber wood, and with the latex from the rubber trees we repaired boots and shoes.

When in 1944, the Japanese gave the order that all prisoners were to move to the confines of Changi jail, the workshops were quickly dismantled and relocated and continued to produce a steady stream of much needed equipment, those in the workshops providing much of the labour and ingenuity which went into making the jail more habitable.’

Source:  ‘A Cruel Captivity’ by Ellie Taylor, 2018, page 31& 32, Pen & Sword Books Ltd.