A Civilian Internee at Changi Prison

This story is about a set of items belonging to a man who, despite not serving in the military during World War II, received a firsthand experience of the reality of war after becoming a civilian internee in Singapore’s infamous Changi Prison.  

Lloyd Samuel Jones was born and raised in Dunedin and studied at the School of Mines, Otago University where he graduated as a mining engineer in 1938. His first job after graduation was working as a mining engineer for the General Mining Agency Company in the tin fields of Malaysia and Singapore. On the 27th December 1941 Lloyd was returning home from working in the fields in Thailand when he was captured by several Thai Policemen who handed him over to the Japanese officials .The Japanese had invaded Malaysia and Thailand earlier that month and would soon occupy the British stronghold of Singapore which fell in February 1942. 

Lloyd’s journey through this area was made in a series of intervals with stops along the way at various internment camps including Taiping jail and Pudu jail in Malaysia. On his arrival in Singapore, he was interred in Changi Prison where would remain for the next two years. In May 1944 the civilian internees at Changi were transferred to Sime Road internment camp to make way for military POWs. By the time he arrived at Sime Road, Lloyd was suffering badly from beriberi, a vitamin deficiency disease which left him paralysed and unable to talk for three months. He was nursed back to health by a friend (Les Barrow) who helped to feed him. 

Lloyd Jones donated the following artefacts from his time at Changi to the National Army Museum in June 1999. The cardboard suitcase has been customised and cut down from a larger case and is held together by metal split pins. The case has Lloyd’s name and initials and his camp register number (3006) written on it. Alongside the suitcase is a stainless steel bread knife which was a valuable and useful item acquired during Lloyd’s time in Changi. It was said to have been hidden with great skill so that the guards did not find it. 

1999.2739.1 – Suitcase made by Mr Lloyd Jones whilst in Changi Prison, National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

1999.2739.3 – Copy of “Disgrace Abounding”. Taken from Changi Prison Library by Mr Lloyd Jones, National Army Museum Te Mata Toa











The third item is a book which Lloyd took from the Changi Prison library. It is a copy of Douglas Reed’s 1939 book “Disgrace Abounding” which presents the author’s criticisms of Hitler and the Nazi party during their rise to power. Lloyd has helpfully inscribed a message in the front of the book “This book was in the camp library at Changi Gaol and Syme [sic] Road Singapore during my internment – Lloyd S Jones December 1941 to September 1945”. 

Lloyd Jones pictured here in 2001. Source: The institute of Quarrying New Zealand Inc (ioqnz.co.nz)

Lloyd was eventually liberated in September 1945 following the Japanese surrender. After recovering and returning home, Lloyd Jones worked at the Blackwater Mine in Reefton on the West Coast and then as the Mine Inspector in Queensland Australia during the 1950s. In 1963 he moved to Wellington where he was appointed Chief Inspector of Mines and Quarries, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. Highly regarded as a down to earth, no nonsense sort who wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion and called a spade “a damn shovel”. His colleagues often joked that, after regaining his voice in the war, he hadn’t stopped talking since. Lloyd Jones passed away in August 2005 at the age of 88.


Written by Brenden Shirley, Curator of Accoutrements, Social History and Medical