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The Changi Murals

These photographs were taken by John Costerd, when stationed at RAF Hospital Changi during his service as a Medic with the Royal Air Force. Chf Tech J Costerd left the RAF in 1986, to work in an NHS laboratory.

The primary purpose of this website is to document the past, present and future of the Lincoln Branch of the Regimental Association of the Royal Anglian and Royal Lincolnshire Regiments, but we make a slight exception here because John is a member of this Branch and because it is such a powerful story.


A Brief History of Changi Camp

Airman's Accomodation Block, RAF Changi

Changi camp was originally built for the British Army in the late 1920's. Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942. Details of the surrender and the following occupation by the Japanese Army are fully described in the book "The History of Changi" by Air Commodore Henry Probert.

After three and a half years of occupation, Japan surrendered, and in 1945 the camp was handed over to the Royal Air Force who re-laid and lengthened the Japanese built runway and developed the site into a fully active airfield. The RAF finally handed Changi back to the Singapore military in 1971. Today this site is Singapore International Airport.

In mid 2003 the majority of the old camp was demolished, one of the exceptions being block 151 where the Changi Murals, painted by Stanley Warren in 1941 - during his incarceration by the Japanese - are still to be found. Unfortunately, due to security implications, access to these paintings is generally not allowed. The Changi Chapel Museum, houses good reproductions.


The Changi Murals - photographed by John Costerd

When Stanley Warren first painted them, this area had been a hospital wing of the POW camp. Later the Japanese used it as a store room. The holes drilled through the paintings, into the walls, were made when shelves were put up.

John photographed the murals before 1960, when they were restored. He was told that, despite many coats of paint being applied, the Murals always showed through, much to the dismay of the Japanese Officers and the Korean Guards.

Changi Murals   Changi Murals   Changi Murals

Stanley Warren's Return to Changi

Stanley Warren showing Wg Cdr C G Reeve, of RAF Changi, how the work is progressing on 'The Raising of the Cross'.

After the war, ex Bombadier Stanley Warren became an Art Teacher in a school in Camden, North London. He was contacted by the Royal Air Force in 1960 and the idea of restoring the murals was proposed, although reluctant at first, he eventually agreed and made three trips back to Changi in December 1963, July 1982 and May 1988. The four complete murals were restored, the exception being the partial mural St. Luke the prisoner, as Stanley could not remember details of the missing section, also by now he was no longer fit enough to continue the restoration work required. Among those who helped Mr. Warren with the restoration work were Cpl Frank Price, SAC John Haley, SAC John Rankin, Mrs Molly White (wife of an RAF Sergeant) and Mr Tom Briggs (art teacher at a Singapore Army school).

On 20th. February 1992 Stanley Warren passed away at his home in Bridport, England at the age of seventy-five.

A booklet entitled, "The Changi Murals", by Stanley's friend and fellow prisoner, Wally Hammond, which gives a fuller account of the murals, is available from the Changi Chapel Museum, 1000, Upper Changi Road North, Singapore, 507707. ISBN 981-04-8032-6.

Block 151 RAF Changi Crest The old Changi Hospital - photographed in May 2009.

The Webmaster of www.thelincolnshireregiment.org is always pleased to hear from anyone who has information or photographs that we could publish on our website (must have strong connections to the Lincolnshire Regiment or the Royal Anglian Regiment please). You can contact him via our [ Contacts ] page.