My name is Brian Spittle and I am writing this blog to help me discover, explore, understand and share something of my father’s experience as a prisoner of war in Singapore during World War II.Throughout his captivity he kept extensive notes which were carefully hidden and then retrieved at the end of the war.Though the risks of keeping such notes were great, it was not an uncommon activity.Indeed, a number of diaries and other accounts have subsequently found their way into public archives or publication.

Growing up, I was keenly aware of my father’s POW experience.In fact, it was a constant source both of wonder and anxiety. I wanted to know more, of course, but could sense the damage that had been done.  In any case, we did not talk about it.Equally, the story of his buried notes became something of a family legend.But he never showed them to me until a year or two before he died. Later I discovered many more.

While this Blog is not about me, it is obviously something of a personal journey. But I hope that some of what I find along the way will be of interest to others, especially the children of Far East prisoners of war who have lived in the shadow of this dreadful experience.

There is one other point I should make at the outset.Despite everything, my father never felt the slightest animosity toward the Japanese people.War is a terrible thing during which people do terrible things to each other.For him that was the only lesson to be learned.I happen to think it is not only a generous conclusion, but a wise one.

6 Responses to “About”

  1. soubriquet Says:

    Brian, thanks for publishing these stories. Like you, I grew up knowing my father had been a p.o.w. at Changi, but he talked very little about it, I’d sneak looks at his diaries and boxes of papers, I read the many books he had. Only when he was well into his seventies did he really start to tell me about any of it.
    He explained that much of it was a subject that people who’d not been there could ever grasp. how returning prisoners soon learned not to talk about it, other than amongst themselves.
    He was a founder member of FEPOW in britain, like your father, he was not filled with hate for the Japanese, he said “By their ways, they believed they were doing right.”
    In 2001, he received a token back-payment fron the U.K government in recognition of those years of horror, and resolved to take the whole family out to Singapore and Thailand, where he’d been very active in getting materials for the museum at Hellfire Pass.
    A few days before the trip, he started to cough, and was told he had pneumonia and could not fly. He insisted we went without him, and planned to follow as soon as the penicillin did its work.
    My mother refused to leave him, we travelled, called home every day, photographed graves of his mates and said goodbyes for him. We were in hellfire pass for the Anzac Day dawn ceremony, and we all shed a lot of tears.
    Six weeks later, he died. Lung cancer. Which, according to his oncologist, originated in the scarring in his lungs, from wartime, in Changi.
    I have bits, notes for an unfinished book, fragments of memorabilia.
    Most will go to the imperial war museum, a few to Hellfire Pass, some to singapore archives.
    He was 7611243 Staff Sergeant Dennis ‘Nick’ Carter, RAOC, based at Fort Canning, Headquarters Singapore.

  2. Hannah Prevett Says:

    Hi Brian,

    I am currently in Singapore on something of a journey of self-discovery myself – or at least that of my ancestors. My grandfather too was a POW in Changi, so I’m hoping to visit the museum and learn as much as possible about his life here (he was working in the finance department in Singapore before his capture.) if you have any tips of places or things that may be of interest, please do drop me a line.

    Am going to get back down to reading your blog now. Have found it fascinating so far…

  3. Megawatty Says:

    2015 Conference Programme

    The Researching FEPOW History Group announces the 5th International Conference in association with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM)

  4. Toby Norways Says:

    Hi Brian. I was fascinated to stumble upon your blog today. My name is Toby Norways. I’m the son of William ‘Bill’ Norways (1918-1987) of the 2nd Cambridgeshire regiment. From 1942-45 my father spent time in Singapore and on the Thai-Burma Railway. I am studying a PhD, writing about his wartime experiences. He was based in Changi before the railway, and Kraji afterwards.

    My father’s story, and my research, is summarized in the following Guardian article.

    Guardian Link:

    It would be good to have a chat sometime. Drop me a line.

    Best wishes,


    • Brian Spittle Says:

      Hi Toby: Very good to hear from you. I tried responding to your email address yesterday but my message was returned. Can you confirm your address? You can reach me at Best wishes, Brian

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