# 13853


Manuscript poem about the non-availability of alcohol, possibly written in Changi POW Camp

$175.00 AUD

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[Between 1942 and 1945?]. Manuscript in ink on a rectangular piece of thickish brown paper, 108 x 155 mm; verso with later annotation in pen in spidery handwriting Changi; numerous old fold lines indicating the paper was originally folded into a tiny rough square, approximately 45 x 40 mm; some foxing and staining and a couple of short edge tears.

‘When the talk turns round to wines & liquers / It’s this fellow’s trade to know “what’s yours” / He knows just what will make us merry, / From wines and cocktails down to Sherry, / But it is our one regret, / These drinks at present he can’t set.’

After the surrender of Singapore to the Imperial Japanese Army in February 1942, over 40,000 men – mostly British, Australian and Indian troops –  were marched to the northern tip of the island and incarcerated at Selerang military base, near the village of Changi. This prisoner of war camp, with its notoriously brutal conditions, was to become known by the simple and infamous name of Changi.

Prisoners in the camp who were discovered in the possession of writing materials were subjected to extreme forms of punishment, as the creation of drawings or records of any kind was strictly forbidden by the Japanese. Smuggled sheets of paper became a rare commodity, and paper was often made by hand.

The manuscript we offer here was sourced from a Melbourne private collection. Although various factors point to it having been written in Changi, this cannot be fully substantiated.