Back from the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Changi Prison, Singapore

Liberations occurred while suffering. Liberations in war  and its aftermath is suffering, liberation, suffering, liberation.

Courtesy Tourist Sports, Changi Chapel and Museum

A liberation occurred early in the imprisonment experience of Private Glenleigh Bertie William Skewes during World War II at Changi Prison/Singapore. Designed for 600 men, it came to hold up to 50,000.

This is Skewes’ reflection of a small liberation during suffering. He wrote this before more experiences with skin ulcers, diphtheria and starvation. He survived to tell us.

Back from the Valley of the Shadow of Death

“Well at last we were put in Sclerang Barracks. We were taken with our remaining gear and loaded on a long tray truck which was pulled along the bitumen road by prisoners of war who were not sent up to Thailand.The truck was minus its engine and gearbox but had big wide tyres. We rested for some days and as I said previously, the CO said on parade, ‘These men have come through a torrid experience, out of the valley of the shadow of death, do what you can to help them.'”

Author James Clavell wrote about and based his novel King Rat on his own experience. Clavell survived Changi. Great suffering occurred at Changi, yet the survival rate there was better than other prison camps. Tragically POW’s (mainly British and Australian at this camp) were often taken away to other camps or for slave labor, at which point deaths related to brutality and danger increased. I believe a fellowship and care, which the Japanese did not seek to destroy as utterly as at other locations. Most POW and civilian camps destroyed opportunities for fellowship, not allowing church meetings, choral groups, or gatherings. Yet some did allow plays, performances, dancing, and at this camp a chapel — all to the greater possibility of  survival of both body and spirit.

Tribute to God’s Grace

“through the Valley of the Shadow of Death”

During Changi captivity, mainly Australian and some British POW’s built a chapel with few tools and materials.  British POW Stanley Warren painted murals at the chapel and British POW Harry Stodgen made a cross out of used artillery. *

Reconstruction of Liberation

After Liberation, the cross was sent to Great Britain, and the chapel was taken apart and sent to Australia. Since 1988, the chapel has been reconstructed and is located at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra, Australia.

Courtesy of

The LORD Is My Shepherd, KJV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana (1863-1952), U.S. poet and philosopher

*(resource for the Changi prison artists is Wikipedia. Although often considered an unreliable resource, this author feels that in this case it is among the most reliable and detailed, and  encourage you to check out the link above)


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2 Responses to “ “Back from the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Changi Prison, Singapore”

  1. Bob Sherman says:

    Thank you for this. The 23rd Psalm has always been a favorite, and has come in handy many times. This is an informative site, and it’s good to see a healer at work.

  2. Steven L. Edwards says:

    This was a good story – only one Dutch person in it. Mostly Aussies and Brits – and Japanese! It is a story of ageing WWII Changi inmates reviewing their experiences in the camp – interesting.

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