James Kerr - Pudu prison

Running time
2 min 36 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


And took us to a small town, put us in a police cell there and after a few days we were taken to Pudu prison in Kuala Lumpur. So there were 160 of us Australians taken prisoner on Malaya and about 1000 British troops. So we were in the civilian jail, Pudu prison in Kuala Lumpur.

And then in October 1942, they brought us down to Changi to re-join our units…We were all jammed in one area. Squashed in like that. It was pretty hard there for a while until they finally opened up some of the other wings and put the Australians in one wing and the English troops in another. And we were three men to a one-man cell. But that was alright, you had the concrete slab on the walls, so one person slept on that and the other two on the concrete floor.

We never had any blankets or anything like that. But food was reasonably good. 3 meals of rice a day, a bit of stew. The food wasn't too bad, really…quite a few men died of course from some of the wounds they had, and other debilitating diseases. Not as bad as. But we lost quite a few from Kuala Lumpur. It wasn't very pleasant, but once we got into the cells and the doors were open, of course, we weren't walked in, it was much better… then they started forming working parties. So they'd be out working railyards or whatever, but just manual work. It wasn't hard. It was hard work, but you could manage it.

So we'd use the time up trying to cadge some money off the natives, or cigarettes or something…Yeah, the conditions we experienced in the Pudu prison in Kuala Lumpur was quite a shock. Quite a shock to us, ‘cause we still had all the clothes. The only clothes we had on were the ones we'd had on in action. A lot never had hats, of course, ‘cause of our steel helmets. So no slouch hats. So we were a fairly poorly dressed bunch of men that came down from... I'd seen people getting around, particularly officers, so well dressed and everything. It was quite a shock.

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