- Title: JAPANESE PROPAGANDA FILM OF ALLIED PRISONERS OF WAR [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: MGH 70
- Other titles:
- Summary: Three-reel edited film, shot by a Japanese cameraman, showing (1) well-fed Allied prisoners of war at or near Selarang Barracks in Changi, Singapore doing construction work and taking advantage of opportunities for sport (2) POWs receiving medical attention and attending an elaborate remembrance ceremony in Batavia, Netherlands East Indies (Jakarta, Indonesia) (3) civilian internees, including women and children celebrating Christmas.
- Description: Reel 1: Low angle medium close-up of (British or Australian?) prisoners of war (POWs), one of whom is a sergeant. A staff car passes flying a Japanese pennant; the rear window is open and a Japanese senior officer (general?) looks at the camera. The staff car is followed by an open car carrying an armed escort. Footage from a moving car with Allied troops lining the road. Troops are seen wearing bush hats, side caps, kilts, and Indian troops in turbans. High shot looking down on arriving cars. Overlooking a parade ground in front of a number of large buildings (this location possibly Selarang Barracks) with POWs on parade and cars arriving. Profile close-up of a British general, possibly Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival. Two British senior officers salute a Japanese general (Lieutenant-General Yamashita?) who returns the salutes and shakes their hands. Japanese general speaks to Allied officers; the nearest to camera is wearing a Japanese armband. Close-up of British troops; one has the cap badge of the Lincolnshire Regiment and another of the Royal Artillery. A number of low huts. A Japanese soldier with rifle and bayonet and standing on an elevated wooden platform strikes a bell. Looking out over a parade ground as men rush out of their buildings. Pan right over POWs doing synchronised physical training (PT) amongst palm trees, led by a man standing on an oil drum. Closer shot. More pans of the men doing PT. A Japanese officer on a platform saluting. High shot panning over an assembled body of men with captured British vehicles. Japanese troops and POWs riding on a Morris lorry, apparently driven by a POW. POWs pass camera carrying hand tools; nearest man to camera smiles. Slightly out of focus shot of a column of POWs under guard. POWs walking with handcarts through a built-up area. Close-up of two men pulling a cart and smiling. Cartwheel turning; the cart is full of rubble. Men at work salvaging building material; man nearest camera is wearing sergeant's stripes on his side cap. Human chain passes breeze blocks. Wall being dismantled. Breeze blocks are loaded onto a lorry. A surveyor (a POW) at work. A site being surveyed; ground is marked out with string and a man hammers a marker into the ground with a mallet. Japanese troops watch. Closer shot of the POW with the mallet. Cement is poured from a mixer. Laying foundations; buckets of cement are passed by human chain from the mixer to a hole in the ground where the cement is poured out, and the empties are passed back. The cement is poured into the ground. Trolleys are pushed along rails. Rubble laid on the ground. A steamroller drives over the rubble towards camera. Roller at work. Japanese troops and POWs confer over drawings. Men at work on the roof of an incomplete building. Japanese soldier supervising. A wooden roof section is positioned by POWs hauling on a rope. Men at work aloft. Men at work on a vegetable patch. Closer shot of two men working; one of them has a pipe. Harvesting vegetables. A man pulls up a spring onion or similar. A man takes a bowl of something from a milk churn. Men sat about eating. Close-up of man eating bread to another man chewing. Close-up man eating; he laughs. Close-up two men eating from mess tins. Pan along a line of men eating from mess tins; they are wearing greatcoats. Man sitting by a river (?) and eating from a tin. Sailor eating from a wooden 'bento' box with chopsticks. A Japanese soldier hands out cigarettes. Men sat by a stack of breeze blocks smoking. Smoking, barechested sailor (?) with a large (Catholic?) tattoo on his arm. More sailors smoking. Swimming pool; a man in foreground dives into the pool (and out of shot) while in the background a man dangles from the end of a diving board. Looking down on men swimming in the water; they wave to camera. Views of men playing skittles on a piece of open ground. Men playing American football. Spectators applaud enthusiastically; one man in uniform appears to be Chinese, others appear to be American, one dressed in an aviators' flying jacket, and two are wearing fur deerstalkers. Wider shot of a game in progress. Shots of a tug of war with close-ups of the teams. Insignia worn by some members of one of the teams is possibly that of the KNIL or Royal Netherlands Indies Army. Spectators applauding. Shots of a duck race. Spectators; collar rank badges suggest KNIL. Views of a band playing which includes strings, brass and an accordion. Two spectators, one of whom is black (in Dutch service?). Dutch spectators. Band playing then pan around applauding spectators. Seated spectators, some of whom are smoking. Views of a boxing match in progress. Reel 2: A sign with 'IX/17' and a section with Japanese script above and 'British officers' below. Close-up of Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival; Japanese katakana script on the film reads 'Pa-shibalu'. Camera tilts down to a tag numbered 182 and displaying his name as 'A E Percival' in katakana. Two senior (American?) officers. A (senior?) US Navy officer. A (Dutch?) man named in katakana as 'Spitz' ('Supi-tzu') and apparently wearing tropical uniform but his identity is unclear Interior; officer POWs eating sandwiches and chatting, apparently good-naturedly, with a Japanese officer with a sword. Interior library (?); a man behind a desk reads from a paper (to a microphone?). Closer pan left along line of men reading papers. Interior operating theatre with a surgical team at work. Medium close-up of a man having dental surgery. Man having something done to his nose. Man having his ears cleaned. A bare-chested and thickly bearded man is examined. Another man has his chest listened to with a stethoscope. A man in an apparently luxurious hospital bed, with flowers at the bedside, is fed and given tea by a Japanese nurse. The man lights a cigarette. At St Vincentius in Batavia a large crucifix, made of wood and cardboard but made to look like stone, stands on an altar inscribed 'Lest We Forget'. Floral tributes; one label can be read 'England' (a revealing mistake on the part of the Japanese, as a genuine wreath would more likely be marked 'Britain' or 'United Kingdom'), another possibly 'Holland' (another revealing mistake; a genuine wreath would be marked 'The Netherlands'). High shot overlooking men on parade before the altar (on parade by nationality?). Japanese buglers playing. Japanese guard of honour presenting arms. Close-up of Dutch officers. Close-up of a black serviceman. British or Australian officers with pan right to show rear ranks. Japanese officer (probably Saito Masatoshi) at the salute; he unfolds a piece of paper and reads from it into a microphone. Dutch officers on parade. A floral tribute carried by Japanese soldiers is laid; label reads 'Nihon'. Japanese officer saluting. Allied officers watching. An American tribute is laid. An Australian tribute is laid. Cross and altar with tributes with Japanese soldiers in foreground. Looking at the parade. Allied personnel leaving parade ground; Japanese troops pass in opposite direction. Allied troops pass a Japanese shrine or monument (this probably the Syonan Chureito at Butik Batok near Bukit Timah, the highest point in Singapore). Wreaths are laid at a small cross. The cross is saluted. Looking up at a hill with wide ceremonial steps; staff cars parked foreground and the Japanese monument on top. A (Malay?) guard at a gate (at Changi?) with a Lee Enfield No.3 rifle. Looking down on local people, some who appear to be in uniform in a courtyard. They are addressed by a Japanese officer. Seated Japanese officers with civilians watching proceedings. Malay (?) civilians. A Japanese officer with back to camera stands in front of a man reading from a sheet at the front of the parade of civilians. Looking down on people on parade. People signing papers; Japanese troops stand in the background. A Japanese officer; behind him people sign papers, behind them civilians bow deeply, and behind them more people stand waiting with seated spectators at one side. Pan along line of civilians signing papers; more file up behind them. Close-up of man signing paper. Close-up Japanese officer saluting. Civilians bowing. People walking out of a prison gate; one bows to the camera. Walking out of the gate seen earlier; a Japanese officer salutes them and a Japanese flag hangs over the entrance. A column of people walk away along a road which runs past a high prison wall with a guardtower. Reel 3: A sign on a gate reads 'No admittance unless duly authorized'; the gate swings open to show a tree-lined drive. View of a large building with a clock and cross on top (a convent?). Wide shot of a wide building with portico, pediment and a first floor collonaded balcony. Looking down on a semicircular drive (in front of the collonaded building?) with a number of huts further off. Civilian internees (men and women) pass camera; they are carrying small items (gifts?). More civilians pass. Camera looks at three women's shoes as they pass (everyone is noticeably clean, well dressed, and appear healthy). Man with a woman on his arm. A boy pulls a miniature handcart along with a little girl sitting in it. A woman carrying a young girl with two boys. Panning view of people sitting at tables in deckchairs. People in deckchairs; a large warehouse or hangar can be seen in the distance. People at a table with children on a picnic blanket. Looking down on people sitting on a picnic blanket. A man with a young baby in a pram. Camera pulls back from a woman reading in a deckchair to show others reading. Man with pipe. Young toddlers on a rocker. Close-up of a young woman. Close-up of an older man with greying beard and moustache. More people in deckchairs. Interior; light coming through a stained glass window. Interior of a dormitory with children at school desks with a nun at the front of class. Close-up of children in the class. A sign reads 'Vegetable garden'. Pan of the garden. Woman at work with a trowel. A woman picking something from a tall creeper or bean plant. Men squatting on the ground picking, a man and woman pass carrying tools. Digging or turning over a vegetable patch. Watering a seedling tray from a can. Crowd outside an open hut. Baskets are handed out. Pan across a wide variety of vegetables. People looking at the produce. Two young boys at a stall. People buying vegetables. Men and women queueing with baskets or buckets. Ration parcels including tinned goods are handed out. People passing with their rations - others queuing behind. Men pushing a handcart. People at tables amongst trees with huts behind. People working with leaves or vegetables (?). Civilian spectators and shots of a game of American football. Shots of a game of volleyball. Excited spectators. Game of rounders or baseball. Children playing American football. Baby in a pram with parents (?) close by. Three boys play with a train set. Girls play with a basketball. Children riding on a large playground swing; one of the boys is wearing a sailor suit. Children play on slides. Boy on scooter followed by others giving rides in handcarts or wheelbarrows. A decorative paper bell hangs next to a sign reading 'Merry Christmas'. Decorated tree. Tilt down tree. A woman and boy pass with miniature Christmas tree. A table set with gifts. Dolls on a table. A man dressed as Father Christmas conducts singing. Father Christmas, who then gives toddlers gifts. Medium close-up of Father Christmas. Tilt down the tree to Father Christmas with adults and children. Girls receiving gifts (dolls with miniature bedsteads). Boys receive wooden scooters. Adults in deckchairs laugh as a young boy passes on a hobby horse. A man gives a girl a small gift. More gifts. A teddy for a young girl. Women around a table (with cakes?). Two young girls. Wider shot. Children watch a marionette puppet show featuring Father Christmas. A ballet display; a building behind is signed 'College of Education/Junior normal training department' (another example of mangled Japanese translation?). Closer shot of the young ballerina. Children applauding. Young baby in arms. Ballet performance by a massed cast. Applause.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM (MGH 70)
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1943-07-30
- Production Country: Japan
- Production Details: Nippon Eigasha (?) (Production company)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Percival, Arthur Ernest (person) Yamashita, Tomoyuki (person) (person) IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY (regiment/service) British Army, Lincolnshire Regiment (regiment/service) Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (regiment/service) Australian Army (regiment/service) Indian Army (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Changi, Singapore (geography) Bukit Timah, Singapore (geography) Batavia, Java, Netherlands East Indies (geography) Allied Prisoners of War Far East 1939-1945, Internment (event) Selarang incident, Changi camp 1942, Singapore Island 1942, Malaya 1941-1942, Second World War (event) Prisoners of War, Far East 1939-1945 (theme) Far East 1919-1939 (theme) Propaganda (theme)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 3 Footage: 2533 ft; Running time: 29 mins
- Notes: The Film and Video Archive holds correspondence with a Dr A N H Peach, who recognised himself after seeing part of this film in a 1989 BBC television documentary. He identifies the location of the elaborate commemoration service in Reel 2 as being in the grounds of the St Vincentius convent in Batavia, which was used by the Japanese as a POW hospital. The diary he kept at the time describes the event as a 'monstrosity of propaganda' which required an hour and a half of retakes. His diary is held by the Imperial War Museum's Department of Documents, and can be found at the reference below. St Vincentius may also by the location of the material seen in Reel 3. Saito Masatoshi, seen in Reel 2, was responsible for POW camps in Java in 1943 and became responsible for POW camps in Malaya in March 1944. After the war he was tried and executed for war crimes, for his responsibility in the mistreatment of Allied personnel. Selarang Barracks, seen in Reel 1, was the scene of a Japanese atrocity in which 17,000 POWs were confined in the vicinity and held there for refusing to sign papers pledging they would not attempt to escape. They were held in conditions of utter squalor until the risk of an epidemic compelled the senior British officer to order the men to sign. The signatures were immediately repudiated as having been given under duress. The significance of the sequence showing civilians signing papers is not clear. As some appear uniformed and they are allowed to go free, the film may show the discharge of local police. The Australian National Film and Sound Archive holds a film called 'Calling Australia' which appears to use parts of this material. 'Calling Australia' formed part of Japan's propaganda strategy as a prelude to an intended invasion of Australia. For this and a television documentary about Japanese film propaganda, see reference below. The Syonan Chureito seen in Reel 2 was a monument built by the Japanese following their conquest of Malaya and Singapore. The ashes of fallen Japanese soldiers were interred beneath the wooden mast on 7 December 1942. The Japanese destroyed the site, and the nearby Syonan Jinja shrine, in 1945 to prevent their desecration by the returning Allies. The shooting date for this material is uncertain. Dr Peach's diary gives the date of the St Vincentius material as 31 July 1943. The Singapore material, and the other locations seen are highly uncertain but must be post February 1942, and Reel 3 is probably Christmas 1943. In all, a very powerful piece of propaganda, even without the soundtrack that would presumably have accompanied it. Looking at the film's treatment of the subject in detail, it would seem to carefully subvert a wide variety of the negligent or deliberately cruel treatment that the Japanese meted out to their prisoners. The Japanese despised those who would surrender; here we see a general treating his vanquished opponents with dignity. Food and medical care were inadequate or non-existent; here prisoners are well fed and elaborately cared for. Prisoners were put to work under harsh conditions and without mechanical aid; here we see troops cheerfully working and provided with a steamroller. The film treatment of women and children in Reel 3 seems particularly cynical. A striking contrast can be seen when compared with film material shot when the Allies liberated Japanese camps in 1945, some of which is referenced below. See related items.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 137 (THE RAF ARRIVES IN SINGAPORE [Allocated Title]) JFU 223 (ENTRY TO KYAUKTAN AND LIBERATED ALLIED PRISONERS OF WAR AT RANGOON JAIL [Allocated Title]) JFU 341 (TJIDENG PRISON CAMP BATAVIA [Allocated Title]) JFU 350 (NO.1 POW CAMP (10TH BATTALION CAMP) BATAVIA [Allocated Title]) Documents.911 (System.Xml.XmlElement)