The hopelessness of the prisoners situation caused them to react in three different ways:
(a) Giving up and dying with no hope left
(b) Hardening of the character for self survival
(c) Giving ones soul and faith to religion
This part of the site will have a look at religion as a reason or a tool to survive. This is not a religious article but an understanding of why religion played an important role in the camps.
Religion has always been a no-go area on any sites I have written, I believe mans beliefs are their own and should not be questioned, as long as those beliefs do no harm or force its will on others, this is why the pages are collectively called ‘Religion’.
My understanding of the religion is: - Human belief in there being something higher than ourselves. No matter what colour, creed or culture, these beliefs should be respected.
If these pages are written correctly, after reading them, you should still not know my faith.
Religion in the Camps
Many of the camps had their own chapel or church and many prisoners turned to religion as a way to survive.
Australian Jewry’s Book of Honour - sent in by Martin Sugarman
A unique Barmitzvar service by proxy held in a prisoner of war camp at Tamarkan, Thailand, on September 27, 1944.
Christmas In The Camps
A look at life in the Camps at Christmas during their years as POW’s
Religion at Changi
Changi was the main departure place for the prisoners being sent to work camps, so it had to accommodate the various faiths of the prisoners passing through.
Changi Chapel and Museum - sent in by Capt. George Duffy
This article is based on the Changi Chapel and Museum pamphlet
There were various chapels at Changi for the Christian faith and they were captured in paint and film by the prisoners.
Harry Stogden and the Changi Cross
Staff Sergeant Harry Stogden of the RAOC never made it home but he will be remembered as the man who built the Changi Cross. This is his story.
Reverend L V Headley - sent in by Dave Blake
Eight photographs taken in the P.O.W. Camp Changi in October 1942 where Reverend L.V. Headley was Chaplain at St David's Church Sime Road Camp and St Pauls Church Changi Gaol.
Singapore American - sent in by Capt. George Duffy
This article in the Singapore American is about an exhibition at Changi Museum and explains the American connection.
Synagogue at Changi - sent in by Martin Sugarman, BA (Hons), Cert. Ed.
There was Synagogue at Changi and at least one Jewish Chaplain who was POW - Capt. Rabbi Chaim Nussbaum, Dutch Forces - with his wife and children held at a separate camp.
Reverend John Thirwell Wanless
Born on 13th December 1904 into a poor coal-mining family at Crawcrook, Ryton-on-Tyne, Co Durham, he died on 30th June 1945 of starvation, sickness and savage treatment in Jungle camp No 2, at Ranau. British North Borneo.
Thailand - Burma Railway by Chaplain L. Marsden
Rather than halt to make cuttings and tunnels, the engineer-in-charge decided to by-pass the worst country and return to it when work on the flat country had been completed. He then made an estimate of the manpower at his disposal and the work still to be done, and came to the conclusion that he needed more men. So he sent to Changi for "F" Force and "H" Force to put through about 20 cuttings through as many ridges. It was agreed that the men recruited for these forces should be returned to Singapore as soon as the work was finished, and it was estimated that this would take about three months.
Wisdom of Adversity by Patrick Rorke, S.J.
“The following pages are an attempt to sum up the lessons learnt during three and a half years in a Japanese prison camp. They were written in hospital in Bangalore, a month after my release, and much that I have set down here is an echo of what I used to preach to the lads in Pakan Baroe, Sumatra, during the last months of our imprisonment.”
Patrick Rorke, S.J.
My thanks go to Briege Fullam for supplying the booklet from the Catholic Church.
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