ART25078

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

ID number ART25078
Title Major General Cecil Callaghan
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Artist Griffin, Murray
Place made Singapore: Changi
Date made 1942
Medium pencil on paper
Measurement Overall: 50 x 36.8 cm

Description

Before the fall of Singapore, Brigadier Callaghan was in command of the Royal Australian Artillery of the 8th Division located in Malaya. His immediate superior was Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennett who was in command of the entire 8th Division. When the British Lieutenant General Percival signed the surrender of the Allied forces on 15 February 1942, Bennett escaped from Singapore leaving Callaghan in charge of the AIF prisoners. Percival promoted him to temporary Major General of the AIF in Malaya and he subsequently met with the commanding Japanese officers. Of this meeting Griffin notes, 'At Tanglin another justification for my work as a war artist cropped up. General Bennett with a couple of other officers had escaped the night before, leaving Brigadier Callaghan to command the AIF. It appears the insignia of a brigadier would not have been sufficient to impress the Japanese so I drew on his lapels the crossed batons of a general. Hardly had I finished this little service when up came the conqueror... I was not present at the ensuing interview, but in any case the [Japanese] officer would not have been able to see Callaghan's lapels. He was a very tall man, the Japanese a very short one'. Callaghan was moved to Changi prison along with the rest of the AIF taken prisoner, but in August he and other senior officers were removed, leaving Major General Frederick Galleghan in charge of the AIF prisoners. Before he was liberated in August 1945, Callaghan was moved from camp to camp across Asia and he suffered greatly from dysentery and malaria.