‘Changi or Not … You’re Not Coming Out With Me Like That!’

'Not coming out'‘Changi or not … You’re Not Coming Out With Me Like That!’

One of a series of cartoons depicting the dilemma of the Changi POW who can’t adjust to civilian life after the war. After all, he is wearing a clean loin cloth – which is about all the clothing they were left with as prisoners of war.

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.