Bart Richardson - Changi: End of the war

Running time
4 min 9 sec
Date made
Copyright
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Transcript

And we went back to Singapore. And there we went into another camp, not the side of the island. And that wasn't a bad camp, we were left alone there. And we just sort of tried to become normal again.

Then after a while, the Japs decided they wanted to use Selarang barracks so they moved the civilians out of the Changi gaol, which was ... Changi gaol was a huge building built in two great sections three stories high. It was, Maitland gaol could fit in it 100 times. It was huge. And we were there for a while. And our quarters were the punishment cell. There was nothing there, everything had been taken away, but you could see where everything had been. This big steel door and the hardest concrete floor I'd ever met.

We were there for a while. Everybody was moved out of Selarang into the gaol. And we moved from inside the gaol to huts outside the gaol. That's where we stayed until the end of the war. We knew what was happening, we had the wireless every day. It was very well done, actually. There was one official and unofficial, there were several of those around. But the official one worked this way, one fella would get the news from BBC, write nothing down, of course, and he'd get together half a dozen people, tell them, they'd go out and meet a half a dozen other and so it'd spread right round the gaol.

And then one day I was on the cook house duty at the time, we'd go down to the cook house to peel spuds. No, they weren't spuds, they were yams and whatever, getting ready for breakfast for the mob. And one of the fellas came and he said, "It's all over, fellas."

We said "Don't be silly. They've been saying that for three and a half years".

"No, I think it's right this time."

"No".

One man in our group said, "Oh, I know a fella with a wireless. I'll go and find out." And he did. And he went away for a long time.

And when he came back, he said "That's right. It's all finished. The Japs have surrendered, but we must act as normal because the guards don't know".

So for a couple days we just acted as normal, but no working parties went out, nothing happened, we were just left alone. And then one day two British army medical officers dropped in onto the Changi airport which our people had levelled off and planes could actually land on from 44. And they came down with two medical orderlies, went up to a Jap guard and they said "We want a transport to Changi gaol" and he had not understood.

So the Pommy doctor produced a Tommy gun and said "We want a transport to the gaol". He got transferred very quickly."

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