Darkness before the Dawn, Sgt. J.N. Farrow

Darkness before the Dawn, Sgt. J.N. Farrow

A diary of a Changi P.O.W. 1941-1945

Darkness before the Dawn is the wartime diary of Sgt. J. N. Farrow of the 5th Royal Norfolk Regiment. He had the misfortune to be sent to Malaya just in time to take part in the retreat back to Singapore, and then to spend the rest of the war in the Japanese Prisoner of War camp at Changi.

This is a compelling read. Sgt. Farrow gives us a rare insight into the life of a P.O.W. in a very different environment to more familiar world of the German camps. This is a world from which ideas of escape are almost entirely absent - I noticed one reference to a failed escape.

The diary starts with Sgt. Farrow based in Cheshire. We then follow him as he spends months at sea with his destination unknown, and seemingly ever changing. His description of battles in the Malayan jungle and the retreat back to Singapore gives a good idea of the chaos of the early period of the war against Japan and the vulnerability of Singapore.

What is remarkable about the book, and about Sgt. Farrow, is his lack of resentment towards his captors. The Japanese guards are ever present, but very much in the background. Instead the focus is on rumour, letters from home (or the lack of letters) and on food. The shear inventiveness of the prisoners stands out, with tomatoes grown from seeds in tins while chickens are kept inside the camp.

This is a fascinating read, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest with the war in the Far East.

Author: Sgt J.N. Farrow
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 453
Publisher: Stamford House Publishing
Year: 2007

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