Journal recalls life in Japanese PoW camp after the fall of Singapore

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by David Layne, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Journal recalls life in Japanese PoW camp after the fall of Singapore (From Bournemouth Echo)

    IT’S 67 years this week since the Japanese captured Singapore – and one of their captives was former Daily Echo print room worker Jack Cresswell.

    He was a Lance-Sergeant in the Royal Artillery, and had served in India and Malaya before arriving in Singapore.

    Originally from Lymington, where his parents ran the Dorset Arms, Jack (real name Spencer) lived in Newcombe Road, Southbourne.

    Following the fall of Singapore – on February 15, 1942 – he was a prisoner of war at Changhi and Taiwan before being moved to Japan towards the end of the conflict.

    He kept a diary throughout his captivity, which his son, John, has just finished transcribing.

    “I shall give the original diary to the Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Church, in Norfolk, and a copy to the Imperial War Museum,” said John, who is a keen local historian, and lives at Hengistbury Head.

    “It’s not particularly harrowing – in fact, my father seems to have had a food fixation, which is understandable, perhaps, given the diet in the camps.”

    For example, dinner on Christmas Day, 1943, consisted of “pork and fried veg with greasy rice, bread and bananas – put pork with onion and tomatoes between slices of bread, made delicious sandwich.”

    Rations were soon restored to normal, however – mainly rice, with only prisoners fit enough to work down the mines receiving pork.

    Jack Cresswell, a Territorial Army soldier before the outbreak of the Second World War, suffered from poor health until his death, aged 65, in 1975.

    John, who was born in 1939, says his father spent time in hospital before returning home.

    “That’s the first I remember of him. I must have been about seven when I first saw him.

    “It must have been terrible for my mother.

    “She didn’t hear anything from him until a year after he’d been captured – she had no idea whether he was alive or dead.

    “He never talked about the war or what happened to him in the Far East – all I know is what’s there in the diary.”

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