Prisoners of the Japanese: A radio broadcast
Today a wreathlaying ceremony will be held at the Sandakan Memorial in the Australian War Memorial’s Sculpture Garden to remember the prisoners of the Sandakan Death Marches of 1945. It seems appropriate to highlight a new Sound Collection acquisition which relates to another group of prisoners of the Japanese.
The Sound Section received a donation of a lacquer disc containing a recording of a radio broadcast made in September 1945 by David Druitt Nathan of the 5th Signals Corp. Captain Nathan was based in Saigon, and he speaks about the prisoners of the Thai-Burma railway in this recording.
As you can see from the above image, the disc is in a very fragile state, and we were not sure that we would be able to recover the audio from it. The core of the disc is metal and it has been coated with a lacquer compound into which the grooves of the recording have been cut. Over time, the lacquer surface has degraded and cracked as the metal core expanded and contracted with fluctuations in air temperature.
Luckily the recording starts about two centimetres in from the edge of the disc which is where the worst degradation of the surface has occurred, meaning our audio engineers were able to play and digitally preserve the complete recording.
Listen to the digitised audio of S04844
Our innovative audio engineers used a paintbrush to gently hold down the arm of the record player to ensure the needle did not skip out of the grooves on the disc when it hit a crack in the surface.
Now that this disc has been digitally preserved, the original disc will be safely stored and won’t be subjected to being played again.