‘Or Even If They Get Here On Saturday!’ (August 1945)

'Get here Saturday'“… or even if they get here on Saturday!”

Des painting may be depicting the NEW clothes provided by the JIA from stockpiles held for years & the uncertainty of when Allied troops would free the POWs, after receiving leaflets that the war was finished. See below:

On Tuesday, 28th August, leaflets were dropped over Changi & other POW camps based in Singapore from a low flying allied aircraft, in English & Japanese & read:
The Japanese forces have surrendered unconditionally & the war is over. We will get supplies to you as soon as is humanly possible: make arrangements to get you out: distances involved: some time before we can achieve this.
You will help: act as follows:
1. Stay in your camp
2 Start preparing nominal rolls
3. List urgent necessities
4. If starved or underfed for long periods DO NOT eat large quantities of solid food. Those really Ill or very weak: fluids, use rice water, boiled best. Gifts of food from local population, cooked. We want you back home, quickly, safe & sound, not wanting to risk your chances from diarrhoea, dysentery & cholera at this stage.
5. Local authorities and / or Allied officers will take charge affairs in a very short time. Be guided by their advice.”
This was all good news to the POWs but after some days many had questions: when did the war finish; are we still POWs; when we will the Allies come; how long do we have to wait in our prisons; when will we be set free; when will we be going home?
The Japanese from the warehouse at last started to provide from stockpiles held for years clothing & footwear for all, maybe in order to cover up the the ‘living skeletons that were the POWs who had survived.

“On August 15th 1945 Paddy Matthews stole a radio and heard that the war was over. The Emperor of Japan, overwhelmed by the power of atomic bombs and faced with the prospect of an invasion of Nippon, had unconditionally surrendered.
Three days later even the Japanese themselves admitted that we need no longer work. But the war had not been won; nor lost. It had simply, for the moment, stopped. They ceased to bellow ‘Currah’ and instead bowed politely when we passed. The food which they had recently declared to be non- existent, they now produced in vast quantities so that we might eat our fill. Likewise drugs appeared from everywhere and in profusion.
Then we all assembled, thousands upon thousands of men, until there were 17,000 there in Changi Gaol. British paratroopers arrived and were greeted politely by the Japanese.”
The Naked Island by Russell Braddon; 1955 edition Pan Books Ltd, Pg 282

‘After days of men watching vacant skies for Allied planes bringing relief, and subsequently feeling deflated, radios broadcast on the evening of 29 August that a food drop would occur over the Changi aerodrome the following day. Around midday the next day a lone four-engine B-24 Liberator from Ceylon flew over the camp and dropped six British soldiers by parachute. They comprised two officers, two medical officers and two medical orderlies. Later that day three more B-24s flew over the camp and began dropping tons of supplies by parachute.

Source: Lachlan Grant, ‘Thoughts of Home: Liberation & Repatriation’, The AIF Forestry Company’, in Lachlan Grant (ed.), The Changi Book, Published by New South in association with the Australian War Memorial, 2015, pg., 340

‘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.