How Did Ww2 Contribute To Survival

1676 Words7 Pages
During the Second World War, thousands of Australian prisoners of war faced the fate of death at the hands of the Japanese. Australian P.O.Ws ‘suffered from malnutrition, overwork, disease, harsh disciplinary regimes and often gratuitous brutality from their Japanese and Korean guards.’1 Many prisoners died as a result, however, the majority of the P.O.Ws survived. This is due to a number of factors. Some historians and prisoner accounts pinpoint a factor of survival as the mateship between prisoners. Resilience, hope and high morale are also emphasised as factors towards their survival. The general conditions and the actions of guards at some camps are attributed towards enabling the survival of P.O.Ws. Another factor was a mixture of human…show more content…
Gerster confirms this stating ‘the POW needed reservoirs of will merely to stay alive.’14 In camps where ‘men were exposed daily to the brutalities and incomprehensible whims of brutal guards’15 the resourcefulness of some P.O.Ws made a huge difference to boost morale. Rivett recalls a ‘secret radio smuggled over from Java’16, hidden from the guards in a water bottle, that was used to distribute bulletins throughout the camp. Rivett states that the smuggled radio ‘brought hope and comfort to weary helped to stiffen morale when we were over-whelmed with the hopelessness of our conditions.’17 It is evident that the resourcefulness displayed by the P.O.Ws aided their mental strength and resilience, and therefore, their survival. Other boosters of morale were the ‘“yasmae” or rest days’18 when the prisoners held events. The shows and events they organised ‘provided the only relaxation and moments of escape in the long waste of dreary days.’19 These ‘moments of escape’ had a large impact on improving morale in the face of their hardships within captivity, which in turn aided their survival and will to…show more content…
Rivett states that at his camp there was ‘a shortage of all medical supplies, absence of water in the camp’35 and inadequate food. The shortages were similar, if not worse, at the Sandankan camp as towards the end ‘the situation became so desperate that Japanese soldiers resorted to stealing rations from POWs.’36 The P.O.Ws at many camps suffered through the ‘desperate food shortages that the Japanese population as a whole endured.’37 Other P.O.Ws, however, were at camps that had a reasonable supply of these essentials and better conditions. Frank Jackson, another P.O.W, felt that despite the dangerous work he was expected to do, at his camp ‘the food and conditions were good.’38 The conditions at Changi, another P.O.W camp, were considered by prisoners to be a ‘head and shoulders above any other camp.’39 Stan Arneil, a P.O.W, recorded in his diary on the 31st of December 1943, ‘Food is excellent, Changi is delightful.’40 K.T Barrett further emphasises the better conditions at Changi, stating ‘where on the railway men had to work through mild attacks of malaria, in Changi they went to hospital.’41 Barrett thought conditions at Changi were monumentally better than other camps as he believed that the P.O.Ws stationed at Changi ‘had hardly known what it was to be a P.O.W.’42 This is a clear difference to the conditions Rivett and many other P.O.Ws experienced

More about How Did Ww2 Contribute To Survival

Open Document