Embroidered 'Japanese Changi quilt': Female internees, Changi Prison

Accession Number RELAWM32526
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cotton
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 2: Japan POW
Maker Aitken, Violet Pauline
Austen-Hofer, Eunice Elizabeth
Beck, Helen
Bell, Mary Elizabeth
Bloom, Freddy
Bridges, Grace
Broadbent, Maud
Brown, Iris Dora
Burns, Margaret
Clark, Muriel Graham
Cutler, Rona Clements
De Jager, Toosje
Dickinson, Contance Ethel ‘Pauline’
Dixon, Norah
Edwards, Joyce
Edwards, Mary
Evans, A
Francis, Edith May 'Kay'
Greaves, Florence
Gregory, Minnie Rosamund
Hancock, Clarice
Heath, Kathleen Margaret
Hegarty, Bridget
Henderson, Jean
Hooper, Wantar N'nakon
Hughes, Mary Campbell Crawford Chalmers
Jackson, Priscilla Hannah
Jamieson, Alice Mary Elizabeth Lawtie
Jones, Eileen
Jones, Nora Janet
King, Eveline Mary
Kinnear, Gwendolyn Edith Allen
Kitts, Rhoda Margaret
Koek, Cynthia
Kronin, Angela
Lacey, Caroline
Lindsay, Evelyn Gladys
Loveridge, Edith Annie
Martin, Looleen Anna
Martin, Nellie
McCubbin, Jessie
McLeod, Ethel Cory
Moir, Ellen Agnes
Morier, M
Mulvany, Ethel Rogers
Murphy, Kathleen B L 'Pat'
Palomar, Leonora
Patterson, Violet May Hilda
Pearson, Eileen Mary
Rank, Minnie Louise
Rattray, Emma Edith Lascelles
Renton, Constance Ethel
Russell-Davis, Freda Elaine
Ruthven, Dora Lansdale
Sadler, Eva Maud
Scott, Mary Pearl
Stafford, Nora Ethel
Sullivan, Anne Muriel
Tan, Ruth Kathleen
Uniacke, Elizabeth Mary
Unknown internee
White, Helen Dorothy
Wickett, Mary June
Willies, Ada
Wood, Florence
Place made Singapore
Date made 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Handmade quilt constructed from 66 embroidered or appliquéd squares each ‘signed’ in embroidery with the maker(s) name. All the squares are edged with turkey red feather-stitch. The squares are bounded by a broad white cotton border, and the same material has been used as a backing. The back of the quilt has black embroidery stating ‘Presented by the women of Changi internment camp 2602 (the number of the Japanese year corresponding with 1942 in the Gregorian calendar) to the wounded Nipponese soldiers with our sympathy for their suffering. It is our wish that on the cessation of hostilities that this quilt be presented to the Japanese Red Cross Society. It is advisable to dryclean this quilt.’

The embroidery on the individual squares is as follows:

Square 1: Dark blue chain-stitch swallow tailed pennant and staff with Japanese characters in red satin-stitch (translates as ‘Banzai!’), with red satin-stitch signature beneath ‘H.D. White’.

Square 2: Circle of blue hearts, and red and blue flowers with yellow centres, in fine stem and satin-stitch. Blue stem-stitch signature beneath ‘C McLeod’.

Square 3: Bunch of red, yellow and blue flowers with green leaves cut from a piece of floral print fabric and appliqued in light and dark blue, red and green buttonhole-stitch. Stems are embroidered in green stem-stitch and are held together with a light blue stem-stitch bow. Signature beneath in black stem-stitch ‘Mary Wickett. 30-4-42’.

Square 4: Nine chain and stem-stitch daisy heads in shades of pink, mauve, purple and blue, with yellow and black centres. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘E.M. Francis’.

Square 5: Red and yellow chain-stitch tulips with green chain-stitch stems and leaves. Signature in red stem-stitch ‘Edith Lascelles Rattray’.

Square 6: Spray of mauve, pink and blue printed fabric flowers appliqued with black buttonhole stitch. Signature in black stem-stitch ‘NORA J. JO[NES]’.

Square 7: Appliqued daffodil with green ribbon stem and leaves and a yellow towelling flower. Cream stem-stitch ‘DAFFODIL RAMPANT by F.BLOOM’. Placement of flower head, stem and leaves is made to look like a striking cobra.

Square 8: Printed fabric flowers and leaves in blue and green, with pink, red and yellow details, appliqued with red buttonhole-stitch. Signature in red back-stitch ‘M. Edwards’.
Square 9: Bunch of cherries in fine red and blue chain-stitch, with pale green chain-stitch leaves, brown chain-stitch stem and pale green satin-stitch cherry stalks. Signature in red chain-stitch ‘N. STAFFORD’.

Square 10: Appliqued printed fabric flowers and leaves in red, pink, blue and green, edged with black buttonhole-stitch. Signature in black chainstitch ‘P. Jackson’.
Square 11: Two interlocking circles of satin-stitch flowers and leaves in shades of blue, pink, orange and green. Flowers have yellow centres. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘Mary C.C.C. Hughes’.

Square 12: Three interlocking circles of satin-stitch flowers. One circle red flowers with white centres, one white with red centres and one grey with white centres. Signature in grey satin-stitch ‘M. MORIER’.

Square 13: Bunch of orange, gold and pink chain-stitch daisies with green stem-stitch stems and leaves. Stems held together with pale blue stem-stitch tie decorated with orange dots. Pale blue stem-stitch signature ‘Rhoda KITTS’.

Square 14: Two green fabric clover leaves appliqued with green buttonhole-stitch. Stems in green stem-stitch. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘C.Lacey’.

Square 15: Posey of buttonhole-stitch flowers in shades of pink, blue, mauve, purple, yellow and orange, with green buttonhole-stitch leaves. Stem-stitch signature ‘Leonor Palomar’.

Square 16: Spray of light blue chain-stitch daisies with yellow centres and green stem-stitch stalks and leaves. Signature in red stem-stitch ‘D.Ruthven’.

Square 17: Bunch of mauve, pink and blue chain-stitch flowers with yellow centres, in a vase stem-stitched in two shades of green. Signature in blue stem-stitch ‘E.M.Pearson’.

Square 18: Appliqued flower, stem and leaves in grey, red, cream and yellow print fabric, edged with black buttonhole-stitch. Signature in black chain-stitch ‘Henderson’.

Square 19: Appliqued flower made from cream fabric printed with pale blue and mauve flowers. The fabric cut-outs have been applied with cream buttonhole-stitch. Signature in pale blue stem-stitch ‘M.P.Scott.’.

Square 20: Appliqued flowers and leaves cut from blue, red and green floral print fabric. Applied and edged with black buttonhole-stitch. Signatures in red stem-stitch ‘M.Rank E.Sadler Psa.103’. [Refers to Psalm 103: ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul: and all that is in me praise his holy Name’. Rank and Sadler were American missionaries]

Square 21: Appliqued flower (rose?) in faintly striped cream fabric. Flower edged with pink buttonhole-stitch; details of petals in pink chain-stitch. Signature in pink chain-stitch ‘A.Kronin’.

Square 22: Yellow chain-stitch daisies with black centres, and black stem-stitch leaves and stems. Leaves have red chain-stitch ribs. Signature in red chain-stitch ‘L.A. Martin’.

Square 23: Appliqued flowers cut from mauve and blue printed floral fabric, edged with grey button-hole stitch. Signature in grey chain-stitch ‘G.Kinnear’.

Square 24: Crocus flowers cut from gold brocade fabric appliqued with gold button-hole stitch. Further details added in black stem-stitch. Stems and leaves in light green and blue stem-stitch. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘Maunder’.

Square 25: Appliqued flowers cut from plain coloured fabric in cream, orange and green, edged with cream buttonhole-stitch. Stamens, leaves and ribs have been applied in satin-stitch. Signature in pink chain-stitch ‘F.Wood’.

Square 26: Bunch of heavy, pink grub roses, and other flowers, with green foliage. Signature in brown stem-stitch ‘Mrs G.S. Hooper’.

Square 27: Figure of a Japanese child? with a rake beneath a tree. Face, body and jacket in brown, pink and green stem and buttonhole-stitch. Trousers appliqued from pink and white fabric. Rake and clogs in brown chain-stitch. ‘Leaves’ on tree made from appliqued circles of brightly coloured fabric; trunk from brown and blue chain-stitch. Chain-stitch flowers in pink and mauve at base of tree. Blue chain-stitch pond behind figure. Green chain-stitch signature ‘E. Austen-Hofer’.

Square 28: Pink and green chain and stem-stitch tulip. Pink stem-stich signature ‘Gladys Lindsay’.

Square 29: Appliqued tulips made from blue and ochre patterned fabric edged with cream buttonhole-stitch. Leaves in light green fabric. Signature in red chain-stitch ‘R.Cutler’.

Square 30: Four appliqued flowers and leaves made from plain coloured cream, gold, blue, mauve, purple, pink and white fabric, edged with black and cream buttonhole-stitch. Stamens and leaf ribs in green and red longstitch. Signature in blue stem-stitch ‘M. SULLIVAN’.

Square 31: Three groups of red and pink chain-stitch daisies, with yellow centres and green stem-stitch stems, leaves and ground. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘A? Evans’.

Square 32: Shirley poppy flowers and buds sewn in cream and pink buttonhole-stitch with olive green stem-stitch stems and leaves. Signature in olive green stem-stitch ‘M.G.CLARK.’.

Square 33: Mount Fuji in white and pink stem-stitch with a light brown stem and chain-stitch pine tree in the foreground. Signature in light brown stem-stitch ‘Helen Beck’.

Square 34: Yellow stem-stitch sun rising out of a grey stem-stitch sea. Yellow stem-stitch ‘Singapore 28-4-1942’ and grey stem-stitch signature ‘E? King’.

Square 35: Eight small scattered appliqued flowers in puce, blue and green, cut from floral fabric and applied with red buttonhole-stitch. Signature in red stem-stitch ‘V? W? Aitken’.

Square 36: Three red stem-stitch flowers with red and yellow centres and pale green leaves and stems. Signature in grey stem-stitch ‘E.A. Moir’.

Square 37: Red, yellow and grey stem-stitch flowers with green stem and chain-stitch leaves. Black stem-stitch ‘KIA ORA’ and signature ‘M Uniake’.

Square 38: Satin and stem-stitch arabesque spray of flowers and leaves in greens, reds, orange, pink, blue, yellow and grey. Work of outstanding quality. Signature in black stem-stitch ‘Ethel Mulvany’.

Square 39: Bunch yellow, red and green chain and buttonhole-stitch flowers with dark green chain-stitch stems and leaves. Signature in red back back-stitch ‘Ruth K.Tan’.

Square 40: Circle of large yellow and small blue flowers in satin-stitch. Yellow flowers have black centres and blue flowers yellow. Pale green leaves. Grey chain-stitch signature ‘M Broadbent’.

Square 41: Fine red chain and satin-stitch rose with green chain and stem-stitch leaves and stem. Red stem-stitch signature ‘Cynthia Koek’.

Square 42: Pair of grey chain-stitch doves with yellow eyes and beaks, and red feet. One bird is within a pale green, mauve and yellow circle of chain-stitch flowers. Grey chain-stitch signature ‘J.Edwards’.

Square 43: Appliqued grey satin rabbit edged with grey buttonhole-stitch, with grey stem-stitch whiskers and a white satin-stitch tail. Rabbit is sitting in a field of pink and yellow flowers and green grass in satin and stem-stitch. Light green stem-stitch signature ‘Constance E. Renton’.

Square 44: Circle of pale pink, pale blue, yellow and white flowers in candlewick-stitch, with green stem-stitch leaves. Cream stem-stitch signature ‘Eileen Jones’. Embroidery appears to have been done on a lawn handkerchief which has then been appliqued to the cotton issue square with white buttonhole-stitch.

Square 45: Two sprigs of heather in green stem-stitch and mauve and puce knot-stitch. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘I.D.BROWN’.

Square 46: All-over pattern of yellow,pink and blue chain-stitch flowers with leaves and stems in various shades of green. Signature in green chain-stitch ‘F.E. Russell-Davis’.

Square 47: Brown, green, red, yellow, mauve, pink, blue, puce and black stem, chain and buttonhole-stitch embroidery of a garden gate in a wall with various flowers, including hollyhocks, growing in front of it. Signature above in blue ‘Pat Murphy’.

Square 48: Red, yellow and blue flowers cut from floral print fabric and applied with black, green and grey buttonhole-stitch. Flowers sit in a green chain-stitch bowl with a green and pink chain-stitch band across it. Yellow chain-stitch signature ‘M.R. Gre...’ (the rest is sewn into the seam).

Square 49: Yellow ochre buttonhole-stitch flower with black stem-stitch details and pale green buttonhole and stem-stitch leaves and stalk. Signature in yellow ochre stem-stitch ‘MARGARET BURNS’.

Square 50: Dolly Varden figure at a dovecote in a flower garden. Figure has green and blue stem-stich poke bonnet, mauve and pink stem-stitch bodice, yellow stem-stitch neck and arms, and blue, mauve and green floral print fabric skirt applied with blue buttonhole-stitch. Dovecote in green satin-stitch; doves in blue satin-stitch. Flowers and path in green, blue, orange, mauve and pink satin and stem stitch. Signature in pale green stem-stitch ‘Pauline Dickinson 1942’.

Square 51: Maypole seen from above with a green satin-stitch circle of grass and red, blue and pink chain-stitch flowers. Coloured chain-stitch `ribbons' in orange, blue, pink, yellow, cream and green lead from the centre of the pole to the letters of the maker's name in the grass ‘V M H PATTERSON’.

Square 52: Grey chain-stitch bell-shaped flowers with dark and light green chain and running stitch stems and leaves. Signature in dark green chain-stitch ‘N Martin’.

Square 53: Bunch of pale yellow and orange flowers with green leaves and brown stems in buttonhole, stem and satin-stitch. Outstanding quality embroidery. Signature in brown chain-stitch ‘Nolah [or Norah] Dixon’.

Square 54: Grey and blue convolvulus flower and bud in buttonhole and satin-stitch. Flower has a yellow centre. Leaves, stems and tendrils are embroidered in dark and light green chain, stem and satin-stitch. Signature in grey stem-stitch ‘M Bell’.

Square 55: Six satin-stitch flowers. Two royal blue with yellow centres, two yellow with brown centres and two purple with yellow centres. Green stem-stitch stems and leaves. Signature in red stem-stitch ‘G. Bridges.’.

Square 56: Maroon, pink and white brocade fabric flower appliqued with grey buttonhole-stitch. Signature in grey stem-stitch ‘Ada. Willies’.

Square 57: Grey feather-stitch circle with a red, pink, blue and green printed floral fabric flower in the centre applied with grey over-stitching. Signature in grey feather-stitch ‘A.L. Jamieson’.

Square 58: Three orange buttonhole-stitch marigolds with black centres and green chain and stem-stitch leaves and stems. Black satin-stitch signature ‘Edith A Loveridge’.

Square 59: Sprig of holly in red, green, brown and black chain-stitch. Red stem-stitch signature ‘F. Greaves’.

Square 60: Dark red fabric three-petal flowers with yellow centres, applied with black buttonhole-stitch, with green fabric leaves applied with yellow buttonhole-stitch. Signature in pink ‘IRIS’.

Square 61: Pink, puce, white and green floral fabric flowers appliqued with dark blue buttonhole-stitch. Signature in grey chain-stitch ‘J. McCubbin’.

Square 62: Three flower sprigs in plain blue, green, cream, yellow and mauve fabrics appliqued in buttonhole-stitch. Details, such as stamens, veining etc. have been added in green, blue and white cotton. Signature in dark blue chain-stitch ‘T de Jager’.

Square 63: Stem and running stitch embroidery of a red Japanese bridge over a white and blue river, with a background of mountains, trees and shrubs in green, light brown, red, white and aqua. Signature not legible - disappears into border.

Square 64: Grey and black stem-stitch scene of a table set for tea. A church and a village can be seen through the window. Signature in grey stem-stitch on the table edge ‘K.M.HEATH’

Square 65: Five tulips in pink, puce, yellow and mauve buttonhole and stem-stitch, with green stem-stitch stalks and leaves. Signature in green stem-stitch ‘B.HEGARTY’.

Square 66: Machine embroidered black, orange and white ‘floss’ flower, cut out and appliqued with cream over-stitching. Signature in pink back-stitch ‘CLARICE HANCOCK’.

History / Summary

One of three signature quilts made by some of the 400 civilian female internees in Changi Prison during the first six months of their captivity, from March 1942. The two made for the Australian Red Cross and its Japanese equivalent are held by the AWM [see also REL/14235]. The third is held by the British Red Cross. The quilts were the idea of Mrs Ethel Mulvany, who had been a Red Cross representative in Singapore. The making of the quilts was designed to alleviate boredom, boost morale and to pass information to men in other camps that the women and children were alive [however many of the women who made squares were unmarried or previously widowed]. Mrs Mulvany secured the permission of the Japanese commandant to pass the quilts, ostensibly made for the 'wounded' as stated on the back of each quilt, to Changi hospitals. It is not known if the quilts ever travelled further than this, or how many men actually saw them.

Each woman was asked to put something of herself into her square and as a result many of the squares on the Australian and British quilts contain both obvious and concealed messages. The quilt for the Japanese was more carefully considered and the squares, with the exception of the one made by American missionaries giving a Psalm reference, contain no messages, only scenes (mainly floral) that the makers thought would be acceptable to the Japanese. There were two Japanese women in the camp who were married to Europeans and although they did not make squares for the Japanese quilt (their squares appear on the British quilt) they may have supplied the 'Banzai!' characters seen in the first square of this quilt.

Several squares on this quilt have an Australian connection:
Square 2 was made by Ethel Cory Mcleod, a biochemist whose husband, John Cameron Mcleod was also interned.

Square 26 was made by Wantar N'nakon Hooper, wife of Australian tin miner George Stanley Hooper, she, her husband and their young son Harold were all internees.

Square 27 made by Eunice Austin-Hofer, an Australian dog breeder.

Square 33, made by Helen Beck, the wife of a Englishman, Ewald Beck, serving with the Malay Police, both were interned by the Japanese.

Square 66, made by Clarice Hancock, whose father was Australian accountant, Walter Charles Hancock. All her family were interned by the Japanese.

After the war, the Japanese gave this and the 'Australian' quilt to Lieutenant Colonel J C Collins, Royal Army Medical Corps, who commanded the combined British Australian General Hospital 'Roberts Hospital' in Changi. He gave the quilts to TX2107 Lieutenant Colonel Robert Marriott William Webster, in command of Kranji combined General Hospital at the time. Webster was a Tasmanian officer and First World War veteran who had been captured by the Japanese while serving with the 2/9th Field Ambulance. The quilts were brought back to Australia, initially being displayed in Hobart, Tasmania, in November 1945 before being displayed on the mainland.