Title: Diary of a Girl in Changi 1941 – 1945
Author: Allan, Sheila
Condition: Very Good
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Kangaroo Press
Publication Date: 1999
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 192 pages
Comments: “If readers expect to read about shocking brutality and rapes then they’ll be disappointed,” says Allan in the introduction to the subtle yet moving diary that she kept during her captivity in Changi Prison after Singapore fell to the Japanese during WW II. Allan, born to a Malaysian mother and an Australian father, became a prisoner of war at age 17 and, without sentiment or bitterness, secretly chronicled the activities of her internment, successfully conveying the resiliency of the human spirit and its ability to adapt to adversity.
Frequently Allan’s entries read like a social calendar: fancy dress balls, orchestral and choral performances put on by her fellow prisoners. For sanity’s sake, Allan focused more on Christmas celebrations and church services than on her numerous bouts of malaria and dysentery. Yet because those passages involving her hardships are so rare, they cut through the seemingly mundane entries with a chilling force. Particularly haunting is her description of the desperate hunger that drove her to eat worms and a baby mouse. “Without thinking I scooped up one and popped it in my mouth and before I realised what I had done, I swallowed it.” Allan’s return to Changi 50 years after the war brings her memoir to a poignant close.