James Kerr - Lack of amenities

Running time
2 min 31 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


It was very wet, there was mud, you had mud everywhere. We never ever had proper washing facilities, our camp was on a small creek so that was your washing facility to wash the dirt and the sweat off you. Changi wasn't too bad in that respect, but the time I spent in Thailand from March '43 until the end of the war, in fact my whole POW life. I never sat at a chair at a table to eat a meal. I never had soap, I never had a toothbrush, toothpaste, a towel. Just as normal things that you take in everyday life, we just never had those things.

And most of the camps were on the river, so you went down the river and washed the perspiration and dirt off yourself. And your clothes, of course, some fellows only had what they called a lap lap which is a basic cord with a piece of material that wide and about a metre long which you brought up between your legs, found the string and dropped it down in front. The Japs wear them a lot when they bathe. A lot of our fellows were barefoot and wearing a lap lap.

But, you know, just to think of for that length of time, you never sat at a table to eat a meal. We never had electric light, of course. Never ever had water. So, you know, I see people these days getting around, they can't walk half a dozen metres without having a swig out of a bottle. Good God we worked on the railway with our bottle of water for the whole day. Can you imagine the perspiration we lost? We never had a tap or a source of water where you could go and get a drink. The only water you had was what you took out with you to work out on the railway. And that had to last you for the day. I never ever had running water in Thailand. I never had the option of turning the tap on and having a drink. Didn't happen.

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