POWs at Changi

POWs at Changi

POWs at Changi

Changi Prisoner of War Camp contained most of the Australians captured in Singapore on 17 February 1942. They occupied Selarang Barracks, which remained the AIF Camp at Changi until June 1944 when they were moved to Changi Gaol. Changi tended to be a transit camp for many prisoners who were shipped out on working parties to Japan, Thailand and Burma. Compared to these working party camps Changi often saw less severe suffering. A concert party of prisoners entertained fellow detainees on a regular basis until this was stopped by the Japanese guards towards the end of the war. Guards occasionally attended these concerts, and their presence often meant that subject matter would have to be censored. The Japanese surrender saw many POWs from working camps return to Changi to recover before being returned home.

Oswald 'Jack' John Boardman

No.: NX59309
Name: Oswald 'Jack' John Boardman
Rank: Private
Unit: 22nd Brigade HQ
Date & Place of Birth: 23/04/1919, Bogan Gate, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 15/07/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore (Selarang/Changi - member of Concert Party).

Oswald John "Jack" Boardman enlisted in the 22nd Brigade Head Quarters at age 21. He was newly married when he and his unit departed Sydney on the luxury cruise liner Queen Mary on the 18th of February 1941, arriving in Singapore about a month later. With the fall of Singapore in 1942 jack Boardman was marched to Changi POW Camp where he would remain until the end of the war. He was the pianist, composer and arranger for the Changi Concert Party during three years of his three-and-a-half year imprisonment. The entertainment he provided had a big effect on the moral of his fellow POWs. In February 1945 the Japanese banned further concerts and Jack was sent out to work on the Changi airstrip, the gaol incinerator and other tasks.



Alexander Hatton Drummond

No.: VX52775
Name: Alexander Hatton Drummond
Rank: Private
Unit: 2/29th Battalion
Date & Place of Birth: 11/11/1911, Richmond, Victoria
Date & Place of Enlistment: 02/06/1941, Royal Park, Melbourne
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Malaya, Thailand.

Alexander Drummond enlisted with the 2/29th Battalion at age 29. He and his unit left Sydney on the 30th July 1941 aboard the HMT EE, also known as 'Marnix van St. Aldegonde' and arrived in Singapore almost a month later. Alexander served in Malaya and was reported as Killed in Action in January of 1942, but was later discovered at a Malayan Prisoner of War Camp in July of that year. After being moved to Changi he was sent out on a working party with "H" Force to work on the Thai Railway in 1943. Throughout his entire imprisonment he kept a journal, written on whatever he could find, hidden from Japanese guards with the assistance of his fellow prisoners.

Red cross postcard


an Appreciation card

Alexander's diary

Mary, Alexander's wife
Guy Templeton Baker

No.: NX52125
Name: Guy Templeton Baker
Rank: Lance Corporal
Unit: H.Q 27th Australian Infatry Brigade
Date & Place of Birth: 01/03/1918, Leura, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 02/07/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore, Thailand, Japan

Listen to Guy Baker's story

At age 18 Guy Baker enlisted in the 34th Battalion Militia, and then at 19 with the Australian Infantry Forces, with whom he sailed to Singapore. Guy sustained a minor injury during the Japanese invasion of Malaya, and was recovering in St. Patrick's School (acting as a military hospital) on the allied surrender. Three days after the surrender Guy was transported by truck to Changi Gaol where he would remain for the next 12 months. From CHangi he was sent throughout Singapore on various working parties. In April 1943 guy was transported to the Burma-Thailand Railway as part of F Force.He worked at several camps along the 'Railway' from Bampong to Neike (near Burma-Thailand border at Three Pagoda Pass). On the completion of the 'Railway' Guy was transported back to Changi where he would remain until the Japanese surrender.

Charles 'Hapy Harry' Henry Smith

No.: NX33398
Name: Charles 'Happy Harry' Henry Smith
Rank: Private
Unit: 2/20 Battalion
Date & Place of Birth: 08/06/1900, Leichardt, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 21/06/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore (Selarang/Changi - member of Concert Party)

Charles "Happy Harry" Smith had been an entertainer of all sorts when he enlisted at age 40. He embarked from Sydney aboard the Queen Mary in February 1941 with the 2/20th Battalion and was then stationed in Malaya with the 8th Division Signals until the fall of Singapore. When Happy Harry enlisted he brought his stilts and costumes with him along with a small pedal organ, and still had them with him when he was captured by the Japanese. With the assistance of men from his unit he was able to carry the pedal organ on the march to Changi POW Camp, and it was used in the first few months of the Changi Concert Party until a piano could be found. Happy Harry assisted in the organisation and running of the concert party, and at the end of the war he insisted on bringing the concert party's piano home to Sydney with him.

Photo of Harry and the concert party

Hand puppets

Photograph Harry preparing food
John Henry Garrett No.: NX51364
Name: John Henry Garrett
Rank: Private (Driver)
Unit: 8th Division, HQ, Australian Auxiliary Service Corps
Date & Place of Birth: 29/01/1918, North Sydney, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 26/06/1940, Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Singapore (Changi), Malaya

Listen to John Garrett's story

John 'Jack' Garrett enlisted to escape unemployment in 1940. In July 1941 he set sail for Singapore aboard the Dutch ship Johanne Van Oldenwald, where he entertained fellow soldiers with his piano accordion. On arriving in Singapore at the end of 1941 Jack served at Endua in a water patrol until the Japanese invasion, where he fought the Japanese at Gemas. On the allied surrender Jack was marched to Changi Gaol where he became a member of the Changi Concert Party. Due to the lack of supplies the concert party wound up in 1944 and Jack was sent on working parties througout Malaya, and on the Changi Aerodrome, until the completion of the war.


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Content owner: Museum Last updated: 07 Nov 2019 1:40pm

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