Jack Chalker 

Jack Chalker
Jack Chalker


Jack Chalker sketched an important record of the subhuman conditions endured by the allied POWs. He was Weary’s hospital artist and so he also sketched all the diseases, tropical ulcers and the operations. Such was Jack’s devotion to Weary, he put his life on the line recording the conditions and the cruelty in the camps.

Jack Chalker’s studies were interupted by Hitler’s War. He was called up as a gunner in the Royal Artillery and was posted  to the beleagured garrison at Singapore only to be captured (along with 137,000 other troops) at the surrender in February 1942.

He was first sent to the Changi area for a few months, then a further four months at Havelock Road labour camp in Singapore Town before the journey up-country to Bampong in Thailand.  From there groups were marched to various camp sites to begin the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway line.  Chalker spent almost six months at Kanyu River working on the railway project.  In March 1943 after succumbing to dysentery and dengue fever he was sent down-river to Chungkai where a large hospital camp was being established.  In June 1944 he was moved south to the Nakhon Pathom Hospital camp where he remained until the Japanese capitulation in August 1945.

Chalker recalls that this was “the first camp meat we had seen … POW’s had to hold it (a small water buffalo calf) whilst the Japanese commandant attempted to torture it by putting lit cigarettes in its eyes.”

The making of any records of the adverse conditions, particulary in up-country in the working camps was strictly forbidden and infringement of the rules resulted in savage punishment.  Drawings were hidden in sections of bamboo buried in the ground, the attap roof of jungle huts or in an artificial leg worn by an amputee prisioner.

When asked about this sketch Chalker remembers … “the tin container was filled with stones or water, when the neck was straightened the jagged edge of the tin lacerated the chest … he was in great distress and clearly the Japanese intended to torture him further”.

The bulk of these works were drawn and painted in the Thai-Burma Railway camps and some were produced following the surrender in Bankok.

His book “To Hell and Home Again” which contains many of these sketches is available on the Quiet Lion website here.

The full set of his works during this period will be available on this site soon!
You can order your own copy of these historic sketches and paintings, on this site.  Click here for order details.

Note:  Many of the works have been exhibited at: Liverpool School of  Tropical Medicine- 1985,  The Royal West England Academy Bristol – 1997, The Dixon Gallery London Institute of Education -1987, The Octagon London University -1989, The Arts Centre Bridgewater – 1989, The Barber-Surgeons Hall London – 1997, Royal College of Surgeons London -1997, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Galleries London -1998, The Peace Museum Kyoto Japan 1999. The entire collection, once split between Jack Chalker and ‘Weary’ Dunlop is now housed at the Australian War Museum in Canberra, donated by ‘Weary’ Dunlop’s son, John Dunlop and the Tattersall’s  organisation.

 

l_sketch3The bulk of these works were drawn and painted in the Thai-Burma Railway camps and some were produced following the surrender in Bangkok. The making of any records of the adverse conditions, particularly in up-country in the working camps was strictly forbidden and infringement of the rules resulted in savage punishment.

Drawings were hidden in sections of bamboo buried in the ground, the attap roof of jungle huts or in an artificial leg worn by an amputee prisoner.

Chankai Base Hospital
Chankai Base Hospital

Note: Many of the works have been exhibited at: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine- 1985, The Royal West England Academy Bristol – 1997, The Dixon Gallery London Institute of Education -1987, The Octagon London University -1989, The Arts Centre Bridgewater – 1989, The Barber-Surgeons Hall London – 1997, Royal College of Surgeons London -1997, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation Galleries London -1998, The Peace Museum Kyoto Japan 1999. The entire collection, once split between Jack Chalker and ‘Weary’ Dunlop, is now housed at the Australian War Museum in Canberra, donated by ‘Weary’ Dunlop’s sons, Alexander and John Dunlop and the Tattersall’s organisation. They are kindly reproduced by courtesy of the Australian War Memorial and the artist, Jack Chalker.


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8 Comments

  1. Dear Sir,
    Can you please clarify the following, in Ray Parkin’s Books he mention Mr.Cross,as the main factor on HMAS Perth, I am now told it was Lieut. Lloyd Thomas Burgess.Is this correct.
    I look up the Nominal Rolls the only POW in WWII with the name of CROSS. Was Edward John Cross, “Army” my wife’s former school teacher 1935, from Middle Indigo State school in North East Victoria,

    Yours Truly,
    William Fredrick Andrews,
    Veteran WWII MN.

    1. Dear Mr Andrews
      Thanks so much for visiting our site. I don’t know the answer but I have asked John Dunlop to try to find out for you. I will be in touch as soon as I have something.
      regards
      Dii Smalley
      Manager

  2. I dont know if I can help much as I am unsure of what Mr Andrew means by ” the main factor” on the Perth. My father lieutenant Lloyd Thomas Burgess was certainly on the Perth and the surviving family has recently dedicated a plaque at Garden Island In Sydney commemorating his service. Last moth was the 70th Anniversary of the sinking of the Perth,

  3. Dear Peter,
    I was looking up information on Lloyd and remembered it was the HMAS Perth that he was on and saw your item. I am recording some things – I was prompted by a letter he wrote to me in l966 when John Shaw was awarded the C.B.E.- Hope I hear from you

  4. Hi Cathryn,

    Now that he is no longer with us and now that I cannot ask him about his experience I miss him terribly and just wish that I could have known more about his courage. It was a great pleasure running into Gavin Campbell this time last year as they were such close friends on the Perth, in the POW camp and after the war when our family looked after his 3 yo child when Gavin’s wife was struck down by Polio and spent the rest of her life in an Iron Lung. We are intensely proud of Skip. Tell me – how can I help.

  5. I am editing a video interview I did with Jack Chalker some years ago, weaving it into a film about certain vignettes of the Burma railway. I have corresponded with Jack over the years and now want to send him a draft DVD of his words and works in the setting of my footage of the railway and the jungle that he loved.

    But the communication line seems to have gone dead. A recent email to Jack has been unanswered for several weeks and I wonder if he has moved.

    Are you able to put me in touch with his son who, I have heard, has handled much of his affairs in recent years?

    Thank you,

    Peter Tyler.

  6. Dear Sir,
    My father, 2nd Lt. R Sutcliffe, 137th Field Regt. Royal Artillery, was a PzOW on the railway. I am currently transcribing his diary and would like to include drawings by Parking, Searle and Jack Chalked. If you have any suggestions as to how I can seek permission from them or their families I would appreciate it.
    Thank you, Regards, Liz

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