Check Out These Incredible Cartoons Drawn By A British WWII Prisoner Of War

Des Bettany was a very talented man. All artwork reproduced with kind permission of his family. See more here. H/T i100.

Des Bettany joined the Territorial Army in 1939. He fought in France, Belgium, and then the Far East.

“The Last Gun Position”: 25 Pounder Gun, Singapore, F Troop, 464 Battery.

“Caught By Japanese Recce Planes Near Kuala Lumpar, Malaya.”


His family write on their website: “Des … carried small sketchbooks with him, and recorded aspects of the voyage out [and] actions in Malaya and Singapore, in various media including pencil, ink, watercolour, and pastel.”

“Well…After All Old Man, They Began It, You Know!”

“Caricature of an Naval Officer Wearing a Monocle, Kuantan, Malaya”.

“Captain R.M. Horner, ‘Jack’ Horner in the bath.”


But in 1942, Bettany became a prisoner of war in Singapore – first at Towner Road, then in Changi Jail.

“Going To Work”: From Towner Road POW Camp (1942).

“Say, Where’s The B…. Cookhouse?” Towner Road POW Camp.


His family write: “As well as documentary sketches, he kept spirits up by producing a series of cartoons, some of which satirised his captors.”

“A Quiet Browse In The Library?” Changi (Aug 1945).

“Break It Up” (1942).


“There are serious works documenting incidents which occurred during the various campaigns, but the spirit of much of the work is one of light-heartedness, helping Des to keep a sense of optimism in the face of a brutal captor. There are also touching works of nostalgia.”

“Transport”: The Changi Chariot.

“You Call This A Shower!!”


Bettany finally returned home in 1945, after the camp was handed to the prisoners. He later moved to Australia to work as an art teacher.


“What the??? Freedom at last???” (1945)


Here’s a picture of Bettany chilling on the beach, along with a letter he wrote detailing his experiences (transcript here).


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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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