James Harston Pennock, Aircraftman 1st Class in the RAF Marine Services was captured at sea off the coast of Singapore in February 1942. He spent the rest of the war in a Japanese POW camp in Palembang, Sumatra.
Whilst a prisoner he drew (alongside fellow captured artists Rex Spencer and Bill Bourke) as well as carved pipes. James and Rex would also carve the names of those that passed away in the camp onto crosses. In a letter long after the war, and in a reference to carving onto the crosses, Rex wrote the “we just couldn’t keep up with the number dying”.
Although he rarely talked about his experiences in the camp, in a brief note he wrote years later he stated that “drawing saved his sanity”. His daughter, Anita Toscani, has kindly shared some of these drawings that he created whilst a POW with us so that more people may be able to see his artwork.
Anita would love to find out more about her father’s story, if anyone has any resources that could help, or recognises anyone in the Jame’s drawings below, please let us know.
All drawings by James Harston Pennock and kindly used with the permission of Anita Toscani.
2 thoughts on “The Artwork of James Harston Pennock”
Anita, thank you very much for allowing RFHG to share your father’s artwork. The faces are compelling, each telling it’s own story. I would like to be in touch with you to discuss his, as well as other artwork I’ve come across from captivity in Sumatra.
Regarding the Palembang Artwork by William Avery Bourke, many years ago his son, Bill helped me with my research into my dad’s time in the same camps, he told me he had appeared on a program call “Tour of Duty” filmed in Aukland New Zealand, sadly Bill passed a few years ago.
This program is available on YouTube at :-
Bill is on around the 45 min mark showing some of his father’s work.