There are quilts from the Second World War Changi prisoner camp that record the names of internees. The quilts were stitched in secret and smuggled out of the camp. For the prisoners there was a desperate need to let someone know where they were. To mark their existence. There are many other similar instances of stitched prison records.

The Changi quilt might look like an innocent craft project - but its patchwork squares tell a different story.

Embroidered Australian Changi quilt by female internees, Changi Prison. 1942. Quilt made up of 66 embroidered squares. The back of the quilt has red embroidery stating 'Presented by the women of Changi internment camp 1942 to the wounded Australian soldiers with our sympathy for their suffering. It is our wish that on the cessation of hostilities that this quilt be presented to the Australian Red Cross Society...'  Link to see squares.

One of three signature quilts made by some of the 400 civilian female internees in Japan's Changi Prison during the first six months of their captivity, from March

Drawing of Prisoners by Ronald Searle. Page from Changi Prison sketchbook

Drawing of Prisoners by Ronald Searle. Page from Changi Prison sketchbook

A Prisoner of War stitched up his German captors after they unwittingly displayed his needlework containing the message 'God Save the King' and 'F**k Hitler' in morse code around the border.

British prisoner of War stitched hidden anti-Hitler message into Nazi quilt

This cross-stitch was done in 1941 by Major Alexis Casdagli in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. The dots and dashes inside the border around the swastikas and Soviet hammer and sickles are Morse code for “God Save the King,” and “F**k Hitler.

the Changi Girl Guide quilt, stitched by 20 young British girls imprisoned in Changi jail during the Second World War.

The secrets of the Changi Girl Guide quilt

My Tenko Quilt: The reunited with the quilt she made secretly in Japanese camp Olga Henderson points to her section of the quilt produced by the Changi Girl Guide Group in Changi Prison, Singapore in 1943

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."

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').

Quilt made up of 66 embroidered squares, each 'signed' in embroidery with the maker/s name/s.

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').

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.

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.


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