The One Man Concert (nightly)

When this painting was found, it made sense of a similar one ‘In Dock – Take 1’ where all the men were asleep. Now all but one are awake but is it due to one man snoring or the infestations of disease carrying mosquitoes that one man’s uncovered feet attracted? It’s probably a combination of both. It has been well documented that mosquitos are attracted to uncovered feet, but these mosquitos were deadly – carrying many diseases from which so many suffered and died.

‘In Malaya in 1930, tigers, crocodiles, buffaloes and snakes killed a few dozen people. In Malaya in 1930 a tiny animal, scores of times smaller than a pinpoint, killed many hundreds of people and kept many thousands away from work. Tigers propel themselves to their prey, but nature, so rich in ways and means, has provided air-transport for the little parasite, and has even ordained that it need not concern itself on iota with its transport. The mosquito comes and long, picks it up, carries it away and dumps in its new abode. All the parasite has to suffer is the inconvenience of a slight change of temperature and some internal rearrangement. But a B-29 with a belly full of bombs is of less consequence than the tiny ‘Anopheles’ mosquito with a cargo ofPlasmodia’: the malarial parasite that kills more people each year than any other organism known. It kills 1,000,000 people in India alone each year…

More 8th Division AIF troops died of disease in Asia between 1941 and 1945 than died of wounds received at the hands of Japanese soldiers, or from shells and bombs. Malaria killed some, but the most important aspect was the debilitating effect of malarial infection with its relapses. It paved the way for other diseases. It weakened us. It lowered our resistance. It kept up a continuous heavy stream of patients into hospital.’

Source:  Rodney Matthews, ‘Swamps, Fun & Fever’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 268

Thank you: State Library of New South Wales, Mitchell Library Special Collections where this Calendar is archived