‘In Dock’ (Take 1)

'In dock'

‘In Dock’ (Take 1)

This water colour painting of Des’ shows great detail of what the POW’s wish they had: neatly a neatly order barracks with folded clothes, clean blankets for all, orderly drying lines, romantic views of the star lit night through the ‘windows’.

What is obvious is that out of the 12 people, 11 are clearly asleep and one is wide awake staring at the man opposite. Des’ family thought that this man was being kept awake by the other man’s snoring or something similar.

However in 2012 an image scanned and emailed from the UK to us that shed light upon the situation and the reason for this man staring intently at his the man’s feet opposite. Go to the next image for the explanation…

‘Shoko’; ‘Go- Kei’ and ‘Kashi Kan –Hei’? Probably refers to amount of ‘commissioned officers’, ‘non commission officers’ & ‘other ranks’ present in the hut’?

‘We all wear only a pair of patched shorts and wooden clogs, there are those whose shirts are finished and now wear a strip of cloth passed between the legs and fastened front and back with tape. In those who still have bits of clothes at bedtime the ordinary custom is reversed – here one gets dressed for bed – the air cools a little before the dawn. It is always tricky getting one’s blanket (if one possesses one) laid out. There are 12 of us who sleep on a platform 12 feet by the same width, say about the same area as a small room in an English home. There are no mosquito nets to be fixed.’

Source: Down To Bedrock (the diary & secret notes of a Far East prisoner of war Chaplain) by Eric Cordingly, Pg 124; permission by Louis Reynolds.

‘Instead of slapping us around for having the wrong number in a hut, the guards have decided to make us accountable for keeping close watch on our numbers. At one end of  each hut, in the doorway, is hung a small noticeboard showing the total number of men in the hut, and on each doorpost is a section of hollow bamboo, one of which has a number of tally sticks. They system is simple. Every man going out takes a tally from one bamboo and puts it into the other, replacing it when he comes back.. Foolproof. The Nip counts the actual bodies, adds the number of ‘out’ tallies and there’s his total.
Well, it may be foolproof but it does not cope with some of our thick-headed soldiers. The latrines are near the far end of the hut, and if you’re in a hurry there isn’t time to walk down the hut and back again to put your tally in, and a jolting run to save time can be disastrous for straining bowels. And, of course, some idiots will take a tally out of the wrong holder, or someone will shift a tally while the Nip is actually counting. Nothing is so simple that it cannot be complicated hopelessly.’
Source: One Fourteenth of an Elephant, by Ian Denys Peek, 2005, Pg 436

Extracts from One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek reprinted by permission of Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. Copyright © Ian Denys Peek 2003