Keenan’s Skin, Rugs, Furs & Doovers: ‘Limey Joe’s

Joe Keenan

Keenan’s Skin, Rugs, Furs & Doovers: ‘Limey Joe’ An American Term

Acting Lance Sergeant Joe Keenan, Royal Engineers Brigade posted from 30 Fortress Company 19, was a POW in Singapore’s Changi Jail for a short period, being sent as slave labour on 26/10/42 to Thai – Burma Death Railway. After his ordeals on the Death Railway, he was again imprisoned in Changi Jaik until liberated in August 1945.

His family discovered a number of caricatures painted by Des, some of these American POW’s. 

The use of “Limey” as slang for the British was used by Americans. “Limey Joe’s” could be depicting an American Outpost selling skins, rugs & furs by ‘Limey Joe’ to humour American POW’s. Who knows the real meaning of this detailed cartoon by Des, any further comments are most welcomed.

There is recorded an event from Changi when two “Britishers” distracted a British Officer while two Americans enticed said Major’s (large) dog away and subsequently put the dog’s head in a bucket of water to drown it silently. They then put the dog’s body on a stretcher, covered with a blanket and a soldier’s hat – to make it look like a corpse – and carried the stretcher to the morgue where they skinned and cut up the dog for food. This tale can be found in Frank Ficklin’s interview, an American POW from the ‘Lost Battalion’, 131st Texas Artillery Regiment. (The painting by Des of Frank Ficklin & information can be found in ‘caricatures & portraits’.

Could this be the back story to the image above? Perhaps Joe Keenan was one of the  ‘Britishers’?


POW were forced to eat whatever they found including domestic animals such as cats & dogs, to survive. They would categorise a dog by the amount of men it could feed, this dog could have been categorised as a ‘10 man dog’. Sad but true.

Images published with the kind permission of Joe Keenan’s family.