Transforming IWM London

girl guide quilt, Changi, Far East Civilian Internee

IWM Non Commercial Licence

The media for this item are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Video, sound and images can be embedded with the code we offer here, and images can also be downloaded.

By downloading any images or embedding any media, you agree to the terms and conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence, including your use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (EPH 9206)

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

  • Download this item

    Embed HTML

    Embed BBCode

Catalogue number
  • EPH 9206
Production date
1943
Materials
  • textile
Dimensions
  • general: Length 1850 mm
  • general: Width 980 mm
Alternative Names
  • FULL NAME: girl guide quilt, Changi, Far East Civilian Internee
  • SIMPLE NAME: POW
Object Type
embroidery
Category
souvenirs and ephemera

Label

Quilt made by Girl Guides who were interned in Changi. 20 girls aged 8-16 years made the quilt as a surprise birthday present for their Guilde leader, Elizabeth Ennis. They collected scraps of material and met in secret to sew them together. Each girl embroidered her name on the quilt. The Changi Girl Guide quilt provided inspiration for Ethel Mulvaney, a Canadian Red Cross representative, to come up with the idea of creating quilts for their loved ones interred in other sections of the camp and the three Red Cross Changi quilts were made, which the Japanese allowed to be sent to the military hospital at Changi barracks.

History note

Changi Prison housed civilians following the Japanese conquest of Singapore in 1942. Elizabeth Ennis, an internee, had previous experience of the Girl Guides being captain of the 4th Singapore Company prior to the war. In Jun/1943 she set up the Changi Girl Guides which would meet once a week in a corner of the exercise yard. The girls would all wear white dresses as their uniform and made badges and emblems from scraps of material they found. This continued until the Japanese guards raided the camp on 10/Oct/1943. It was during this time that the girls began meeting in secret to work on this quilt as a birthday present for Mrs Ennis using any scraps of material they could find. Twenty girls aged 8-16 years were involved in the making of the quilt. Each girl embroidered her name on it. Mrs Ennis later wrote; "I believe that because of my early training I was able to pass on something of the aims and ideals of Guiding and out of the grimness and misery of that internment camp something so beautiful could be made by the Guides who had lost all their possessions but still had courage" ('Guiding in Changi Gaol', The Guide, 25/Oct/1963). The Changi Girl Guide quilt provided inspiration for Ethel Mulvaney, a Canadian Red Cross representative, to come up with the idea of creating quilts for their loved ones interred in other sections of the camp and the three Changi quilts were made, which the Japanese allowed to be sent to the military hospital at Changi barracks. The British Red Cross quilt is held by the Red Cross Museum in London and the Australian and Japanese quilts are in the Australian War Museum. After the war Elizabeth Ennis and her husband Jack kept the quilt with them at their home in Australia. In 1995 they temporarily put it into the care of Sheila Bruhn (nee Allan) who used it to help illustrate lectures that she gave about her time in Changi Prison. In 2006 Mr Ennis agreed to donate the quilt to the Imperial War Museum so that it could be preserved for future generations. A presentation took place on the 26/Sep/2006 attended by Jackie Yuille (Mr Ennis's daughter), Sheila Bruhn and other survivors from Changi and their relatives, including, of those who helped make the quilt -Eileen Harris (now Mrs Page), Sheila Summers (now Mrs Martin) & Olga Morris (now Mrs Henderson). Elizabeth Ennis, quoted in Bernice Archer’s ‘A Patchwork of Internment’, p.117: ‘I have been told by Australian women that I could not have been in Changi because their husbands were POWs there and there were no women in the camp. Worse still, in 1980 I joined a small group who were visiting Changi prison...As we sat in a small room the British warder who was taking us round explained the various badges around the walls and gave a brief history of the fall of Singapore. ‘Any questions?’ he said when he had finished his talk. I piped up, ‘You never mentioned the women who were interned here’. He had nver heard that there were women.’

Physical description

A large quilt made up of small hexagonal patches created from scraps of material, some of the patches are patterned and these have been used to create rosette designs the centres of which are created from a black material, in some of the centres names have been embroidered, 20 in all, and there are also four flowers, one of the patches has the Girl Guide emblem sewn into it. The quilt has some patches of dirt and a few stains, some of the edges appear frayed, the original quilt has been attached to a pale coloured rectangular backing sheet. The names on the quilt are as follow - NELLIE SYMONS OSSIE HANDCOCK OLGA MORRIS THERESA WALTERS BESSY SANGER QUEENIE SMITH EILEEN HARRIS CYNTHIA SMITH A SILBERMAN PANSY NG R REILLEY T. VAN ROODE (Trudie, she was a helper) EVELYN HARRIS JANE DAVIDSON HELEN HARRIS SHEILA SUMMERS MARY GILFILLAN MARY TREVOR NELLY CUMMINGS SHIRLEY HARRIS

Embroidered

GG NELLIE SYMONS OSSIE HANDCOCK OLGA MORRIS THERESA WALTERS BESSY SANGER QUEENIE SMITH EILEEN HARRIS CYNTHIA SMITH A SILBERMAN PANSY NG R REILLEY T. VAN ROODE (Trudie, she was a helper) EVELYN HARRIS JANE DAVIDSON HELEN HARRIS SHEILA SUMMERS MARY GILFILLAN MARY TREVOR NELLY CUMMINGS SHIRLEY HARRIS

Associated history pages

Associated people and organisations

Associated places

Associated themes

Comments (0)

Comments are the user's own and in no-way express the opinion of the IWM. Read our community policy for more details.
Please note that we cannot reply to comments made here. Find out how to ask questions or tell us something.

Add a comment

Add a comment

Please stay polite and on-topic: