Some of the World War II POW drawings made by John Mennie, a…

‘Selerang Square Squeeze’

‘Performing operation in the open’

‘Carol Singing, Dysentery Ward’

Some of the World War II POW drawings made by John Mennie, a Scottish artist captured by the Japanese during the surrender of Singapore in 1942.

Mennie was interned in Singapore and Thailand. During his four-year captivity, prisoners in his camps worked on the infamous “Death Railway” immortalized in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. During this time, Mennie secretly created drawings and portraits documenting life in the camps; he stored the drawings inside a hollow bamboo walking stick. Three of the drawings are shown above.

Of note is the first picture, a rare depiction of the “Selarang Square Squeeze”. This was an incident on August 30, 1942, in which the Japanese “kettled” 17,000 Allied prisoners for five days to force them to sign a pledge stating they would not attempt to escape.

Mennie’s name was in the news in the fall of 2011 when several of his drawings appeared on an episode of the Antiques Roadshow; they had been found in a shoe box, amongst the posessions of another P.O.W. who had known Mennie.

More examples of Mennie’s war drawings can be seen on this website dedicated to his life and work. His paintings and drawings are in the Imperial War Museum.

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