Tag Archives: archives

Legacies of Captivity, June 2017 – New Speakers Confirmed

We are delighted to announce that several new speakers have been confirmed for next summer’s 6th International FEPOW History Conference, held in conjunction with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

These include:

  • Professor Sears Eldredge (speaking via film on Borneo POW and Internee camp entertainments)
  • Dr John Cardwell and Emma Nichols (Archivist and conservator for University of Cambridge’s Wellcome Trust funded Changi digitisation project)
  • Stephen Walton (Senior Curator, Imperial War Museum)

Places are filling up, so please do book soon – and certainly by September! You can download a booking form here.

 

Changi digitisation project: Cambridge

Originally posted by the Southeast Asia Library Group: Changi digitisation project at Cambridge University Library

 Cambridge University Library has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Award to conserve, digitise and make freely available online the archives of two WWII civilian internment camps on Singapore – Changi and Sime Road. These form part of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s British Association of Malaysia and Singapore archives. The two-year grant commences in September 2015 and it is planned to launch the records in Cambridge Digital Library in August 2017.

The archives will be of immense interest to the families of internees, academic researchers, students and the general public, since few survivors ever spoke of their traumatic ordeal. The first stage of the project involves the meticulous conservation of the archives.

The archives contain invaluable primary sources for the reconstruction of the lives of Singapore’s civilian internees. They include official records compiled by the camps’ internal administration, which document personal data like an internee’s name, date entered camp, marital status, occupation, age, nationality, and camp address. Other sources shed light upon accommodation, camp discipline, relations with the Japanese authorities, work parties, diet, health and hygiene, recreation and leisure, the delivery of mail, and the repatriation of internees at the end of the war. Newspapers circulated within the male camp, such as the ‘Changi Guardian’, reported upon events, disseminated news of sporting, musical and theatrical societies, and published fiction, poetry and humour. These official records are complemented by the correspondence, diaries and memoirs of individual internees.

More information on the historical background and provenance of the archives can be found on the Cambridge University Library Special Collections webpage.

An article by Peng Han Lim on “Identifying and collecting primary sources of information to reconstruct the daily lives of the civilian internees at Changi Prison and Sime Road Camp 1942-45” is included in the SEALG Newsletter 2013.

PRESS RELEASE – FORCES WAR RECORDS

New Collections Release – Imperial Prisoners of war held in Japan

Record Qty: 56,000+

Original Source: Transcribed from the National Archive reference WO392/23-26 ‘British Prisoners Of War Held In Japan Or Japanese-Occupied Territory’

In 1945, 37,583 British and Commonwealth soldiers were released from Japanese captivity and Forces War Records has their details.

During the course of the Second World War, over 140,000 Allied soldiers were captured by the Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan. These men were kept in barbaric conditions, utilised as forced labour, tortured for information and used for medical experiments. Japan, while a signatory of the 1929 Geneva Convention, never ratified it and thus ignored it. Treatment of Allied prisoners was so poor that over 30,000 died in captivity. Many of the guards responsible were subsequently tried for war crimes.

Immortalised in films such as “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957) and “To End all Wars” (2001), there is no denying the significant impact that these events had and continue to have on survivors, veterans and their families. Indeed, Japanese War Crimes against Prisoners of War are often a hotly debated topic.

This collection was compiled by the Directorate for Prisoners of War and lists the soldiers, along with the occasional civilian, who endured these conditions. Prisoners were only obliged to provide their name, rank and number so the amount of military information is limited, however the records do include the date of capture, the camp in which they were held and the date of liberation, be that through release, escape or death.

On the 70th Anniversary of the Empire of Japan’s surrender we are pleased to present this collection of 56,363 records, a permanent memorial to the servicemen involved and an invaluable resource for genealogists.

In addition, the record set includes such notable entries as:

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, the senior Allied Officer held at Tha Maa Kham PoW camp and the officer upon whom Alec Guinness’ Colonel Nicholson from ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was based.

James Clavell, born Charles Edward Dumaresq Clavell, co-writer on the films ‘633 Squadron’ (1964) and ‘The Great Escape’ (1963) and author of the novel ‘King Rat’ (1962), based on his experiences in Changi camp.

Ernest William Swanton, the BBC Radio Sports broadcaster and journalist who was a regular commentator on ‘Test Match Special’.

Contacts:

Tom Bennington – Network and Media, Forces War Records
tbennington@cdm.uk.com

Neil White – Network and Media, Forces War Records
neilwhite@forces-war-records.co.uk

Nicki Giles – Copywriter, Forces War Records

ngiles@cdm.uk.com