ART24496

Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial,
Creative Commons License This image is licensed under CC BY-NC

ID number ART24496
Title Captain John Vernon
Collection Art
Object type Painting
Artist Griffin, Murray
Place made Singapore: Changi
Date made c. 1943
Medium oil on cardboard
Measurement Overall: 63.2 x 81.4 cm

Description

Griffin has composed this portrait to tell the story of Captain John Murray Vernon (NX34879), MC, of the 2/18th Australian Infantry Battalion. He is posing in front of the Kranji river at the place where the Japanese troops landed in Singapore after crossing Johore Strait on 8 February 1942. It was here that Vernon received his MC for leadership in action. As leader of Platoon 8, Vernon was situated on hills which became islands as the tide rose. He faced two waves of Japanese attack and managed to hold his position until his number of men was badly weakened and he decided to withdraw to headquarters. This presented another challenge as the waters had risen and the platoon had to swim across, which was difficult for many of the wounded and fit men. Vernon devised a rope made of rifle slings which assisted the men to get across, and Vernon himself made numerous trips to help wounded men.

Although Griffin did not witness the battle, he knew the landscape of Malaya and Singapore well as he had travelled around the peninsula for 4 months before the fall of Singapore in February 1942.