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March to Changi by Robert Harper

Image: March to Changi by Robert Harper

Cambridge University Library is working to conserve original WWII records from the Changi and Sime Road civilian interment camps on Singapore. We are now mid-way through our two year Wellcome Trust-funded project and much of the Changi and Sime Road archive has been conserved. You can read blog posts written by our project conservators and archivist at:

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/royal-commonwealth-society/projects-exhibitions/changi-project

The Library appreciates the importance of our project to those families seeking information about their loved ones who were interned in the Japanese camps, and we have received support to digitise the archive.

Cambridge University Library is concerned however not to disclose data of a sensitive and personal nature that may offend any surviving internees or their immediate family. We are therefore keen to contact as many families of the internees as possible to alert them that these records will be digitised and made available online in August 2017. Should they have any concerns then we would be pleased to discuss these with them, and may be reached by phone on 01223 333146 (on some Wednesdays and Thursdays), by email: rcs@lib.cam.ac.uk or by post. Please address letters to Rachel Rowe, RCS collections, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR.  We would be very happy to ring people back and discuss any concerns they might have over the data.

It is the Nominal rolls in the archive which include the most personal data. Each roll is slightly different but in general they list an internee's name, their camp registration number, camp address/hut number, their age (at the time of the nominal roll), nationality, and in the remarks section they might list the internee's pre-war occupation. Some include family relationships e.g. sister of, or list the country in which they were working prior to internment. Occasionally they list camp earnings, or a death in camp, when they would give the date of death of the named individual. Men, women and children were listed separately.

The archive includes files from Changi and Sime Road kept by John Weekley who served as Men's Representative, Changi Civilian Internment Camp, and as Commandant of one of the camp areas.  These are listed in more detail online at:

https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0115%2FRCMS%20103%2F12%2F15

They also include the files of Camp Quartermaster Norman Rowlstone Jarrett  -

https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0115%2FRCMS%20103%2F12%2F13

Newspapers produced in the camp will be digitised - the Karikal Chronicle,the Changi Guardian and the Changi Chimes.  These were written and circulated by the internees and include short pieces by a mix of named and anonymous authors/internees - see:

https://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0115%2FRCMS%20103%2F12%2F29

We will also be digitising individual diaries, letters, plays and memoirs held as part of our archive.  A list of these may be downloaded here, (file name changi_diligence3.pdf)

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/royal-commonwealth-society/projects-exhibitions/changi-project

We are particularly keen to contact the families of the authors of these items to ensure they have no objections to us publishing them online, and would be happy to forward printed copies of this list to those unable to access it online.  We would welcome any information that might help us make proper attributions, identify copyright owners, or correct copyright acknowledgements.

Should an internee's family only become aware of a family record in the archive after we have put it online, then we will remove the image or images and any related information within three days of being notified.

We are in contact with Mr Ron Bridge and with members of COFEPOW, the Java Far East Prisoners of War Club 1942, the Malayan Volunteers Group and the Researching FEPOW History Group.  Cambridge University Library is keen to ensure the digital archive correctly identifies and acknowledges authors and copyright holders.

The images created for this project will be made available for re-use for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-NC).