July Top Story

Reverend L V Headley

Lewis Victor Headley was born in 1906.

He attended St David's College Lampeter and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1928.. He studied for ordination at Ripon Hall, Oxford in 1928. He was made a Deacon in the Church of England in 1929 and a Priest in 1930. He was Curate of Llanwnog 1929-31 and at The Cotteridge 1931-33. He was Commissioned as a Chaplain to the Forces (C.F.) in 1933. He served at Aldershot 1933-38, and was posted to Singapore in 1938. He was subsequently attached to HQ Staff Malaya Command

In July 1941, he was attached to the Garrison staff at Changi. He was posted as 'Missing -Malaya' on 15.2.1942 and as a Prisoner of War - Malaya on 1942/12/14.


These eight photographs were taken in the P.O.W. Camp Changi in October 1942 where he was Chaplain at St David's Church Sime Road Camp and St Pauls Church Changi Gaol.

They were taken by the Reverend L V Headley C.F. with a Leica camera, and developed in an X-ray developer. The camera and film had been buried for 8 months before the exposures were made!

The negatives survived the trip up to the Siamese jungle, and escaped detection on numerous searches. They were hidden in socks, in hollow bamboo and finally in the centre of a ball of mending wool. Discovery would have entailed severe punishment.


Below are scans of the photographs in the Royal Army Chaplains' Department Museum Collection and are used with the permission of the RAChD Museum Trustees.


Changi.  The Church Room Changi (CE)-tn

The Church Room - This was the only CE Church in Changi before the Jap occupation, badly damaged in the fighting -the photograph shows the interior during renovation by the POWs


Changi. Church Room, after parts of the roof had been restored by the POWs-tn

Church Room - after part of the roof had been restored by the POWs


Interior 18th Division Church, Changi-tn

Interior of 18th Division Church


Changi, Temple Church-tn

Temple Church - interior


Changi. Men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regt, enjoy their meal of rice stew and 'Dourers' Oct. 1942-tn

Two POWs (Loyals) 'enjoy' their meal of rice stew and 'Dourens?' Changi October 1942


Changi.  men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regt queing up for their evening rice-2-tnChangi.  men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regt queing up for their evening rice.

Men of the Loyal Regiment queue for their evening rice


Changi.  Church in use Mar -Nov 1942-tn

Cinema church - in use March - November 1942


1942, Changi.  Funeral of a Capt-tn

Funeral of RAMC Captain in Cemetery Changi Camp - Oct 1942.



Reverend Headley Lewis Victor Headley returned to the the UK in October 1945.

He continued to serve with the Army in Aldershot 1946-47, Bordon and Longmoor 1947- 48, West Africa Command 1948-50, Aldershot 1950-53, British Troops Austria 1953-55, Berlin 1955-1958, Antwerp 1958-59 . His final appointment was a Chaplain at the Royal Hospital Chelsea 1959 - 67.

After leaving the Army he was Rector of East Tisted with Colmer from 1967 - 1980.

Padre Headley is mentioned in the book by Rev. JNL Bryan 'The Churches of the Captivity in Malaya.

The Museum also has a communion set which was used in these Churches by Padre Headley. In 1943, Headley took this Communion Set up to Siam with 'H' Force and it as used in many Jungle Camps along the notorious Burma - Siam Railway. The 'Kempi' (the Japanese Secret Police), seeing a written reference to the 'H.C.set' thought it must be a radio set and arrested the Camp CO, the Doctor and Padre. They were realeased after a month's confinement.

Padre Headly is also mentioned in the new book by Geoff Mowat 'The Rainbow through the Rain' (2005) New Cherwell Press 7.99

Contact David Blake - rachdcurator@tiscali.co.uk

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