Calendar Front Cover

Calendar Front Cover1946 Calendar Cover

This 1946 Calendar was probably painted and put together after the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945 and prior to embarkment on ships back home. The POW needed to spend some months receiving medical attention and putting on some weight after their starvation diet. Des and Wray probably worked together on this project, to break the bordom. All images have been painted by Des.

The illustrations in this calendar depict incidents (many of them captioned) which occurred in the lives of camp prisoners since 1942. Among events illustrated are the forced march of prisoners to Changi, the award of one tin of pineapple per 10 men in honour of the Japanese Emperor’s birthday and the construction of an airfield for the Japanese. There are also humorous scenes, such as a prisoner eyeing a well fed chicken, and a snoring prisoner’s ‘one man concert’. The final illustration is captioned ‘Lest we forget, this must not happen again or we perish’, and shows prisoners lying on their wooden beds arranged in rows outside a reed hut.

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

‘In order to cope, I believe, most men surrounded themselves in their own personal and protective armour. Mine, as I have already written, was work, an almost obsessive sense of duty; for others it was humour or religious faith; and for nearly all of us, it was the setting of a deadline: ‘home by Christmas’ or ‘home for my wife’s birthday, or some other date of personal significance. In establishing a mental goal to work towards we were focussing on a future life which we could anticipate living and, in the process, attempt to reject the reality of what we were experiencing, deferring our disappointment. Keeping an ‘end point’ in mind, even though deep down we know it was artificial, gave us hope – one of the most powerful weapons in the limited armoury of defence we could own. If we were to not only survive but also remain sane, it was all we could do.’

Source: A Doctors War, by Dr Rowley Richards, pg 157, Harper Collins Publishers, 2006.