The Sportsmen of Changi

Kevin Blackburn

Japanese Second World War Prisoner Of War camps conjure up a notorious picture of deprivation and brutality. The idea that sport, of all things, flourished in such hellish conditions is hard to envisage – but the truth is, it did. Captives played Aussie Rules football and rugby at the infamous Changi POW camp, and tennis on the Burmese side of the Burma–Thailand Railway. They played soccer, cricket, baseball or basketball, and sometimes their prison guards even joined in for a game.

There were many elite sportsmen in these ranks intent on reviving their sporting careers after returning home at war’s end, and many of them succeeded.The Sportsmen of Changi tells the story everyone forgot – of how sport became a lifeline for POWs after the fall of Singapore, when 50,000 Australian and British soldiers became prisoners of the Japanese. Inspiring and absorbing, it shows that in unimaginable conditions people will do all they can to hold onto what makes them human.

Soft cover, photographs, 296 pages