A new exhibition at the V&A museum features the Changi Girl Guide quilt, stitched by 20 young British girls imprisoned in Changi jail during the Second World War. Elizabeth Grice talks to the last survivor Olga Henderson.
One of the squares in the Changi quilt. "Helen Beck was interned with her husband. They were British but living in Ipoh. He had been the chief of police at Perak before the war. Her square shows prison bars and a brick wall beside the words 'Hospital, Changi Prison’. The caption below reads: God made the earth and sky for one and all, Man made these prison bars. But faith in England scales the highest wall, Above it shine the stars."
Embroidered Australian Changi quilt (detail): Female internees, Changi Prison. 1942 (Royal blue and red stem-stitch map of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore, with arrows linking the towns of Alar Star, Taiping, Sarambon and Changi. Verse and signature in red 'I wandered down a long long trail from Alar Star to Changi gaol. Dorothy Mather').
Detail of embroidered Australian Changi quilt: Female internees, Changi Prison. 1942 (Brown and cream chain and stem-stitch figure of a Tommy with a steel helmet, pack and rifle, and brown stem-stitch hands giving the thumbs-up sign. The soldier is dreaming of Hovis bread, wine, cigarettes, women and beer, which are contained within a pink stem-stitch bubble. Dark blue stem-stitch signature 'SHEILA EARLY').
Red Cross nurse with white pinafore and veil; Scotsman - quilt with bag pipes, black hat; Military officer - blue jacket, white leather pants and black boots, black hat; Uncle Sam - red and white striped pants, blue jacket, white top hat; French foreign legion solider on camel, with French flag; Solider - black boots with fur; blue coat, black hat. Made by the Vancouver Branch Prisoners of War Department and sold to benefit the Canadian Red Cross Society during WWI. 1916-1918. 2 1/2" high.