We begin with a glimpse of glamorous Singapore shortly before the Japanese attack: articles announcing high-profile stage productions sit alongside Jack’s military service papers.
But soon, across a series of memoirs, lectures, military orders and newsprints, the events of the invasion unfold. British Malaya is lost after the fall of the Northern defences, and then, despite the bravery of Allied forces, Singapore is historically surrendered in February 1942.
Particularly harrowing is Jack’s recollection of the panicked massacre at Alexandra Hospital, followed shortly after by an anonymous account of the chaotic, bloody fighting at Kranji. Then, scribbled on the back of old medical paper, we find snippets of life inside Changi POW camp. Miraculously, a glimmer of light returns: in the form of ‘The Chunkel’, a magazine written and illustrated by the prisoners.
As we turn the pages, we find uplifting articles, dramatic short stories, and witty cartoons – all of which inspired further plans for concerts, scripts for raunchy plays, and even a hand-drawn pin-up or two.