Changi Murals Chapel
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Changi Murals Chapel, otherwise known as St Luke's Chapel, was a source of comfort and focal point of social activities for Allied prisoners-of-war in Changi during the Second World War. It was located in the "Dysentery Wing" of military barracks in Changi and held the famous Changi Murals painted by Stanley Warren.
During the Japanese Occupation, the Changi Royal Air Force (RAF) base, Roberts Barracks Block 151 at Changi Military Base was turned into a make-shift hospital for prisoners-of-war of the Allied Forces. As disease and malnutrition was rife among the captives, the Christian chaplains ministering to the sick were particularly influential in maintaining morale then. One of them, Rev. F.H. Stallard, C.F., obtained permission from a Japanese commander to convert part of the ground floor of the hospital's "Dysentery Wing" (Blk. 151) into a chapel. It was dedicated to "St. Luke the Physician" and became St. Luke's Chapel. Designed by an officer of the 18th Division, the altar rail was also built by the 18th Division Royal Engineers. The font was made and presented to the Chapel by Captain Cook, 5th Suffolk Regiment. It was opened on 12 July 1942 for patients, and in particular, for the staff of 196, 197 and 198 Field Ambulances R.A.M.C.. Service was celebrated daily with the distribution of Holy Communion.
The Chapel furnishings were moved to Selarang Barracks on 27 August 1943 and the areas closed in. The building and chapel were subsequently used by the Japanese Air Force as a storeroom. The Changi murals were distempered and painted over, with one of the images almost totally destroyed by the Japanese, who blasted the wall to make a doorway. They remained hidden till their discovery in the late 1950s. The chapel itself was carried and rebuilt in Australia although a copy remained in Changi Prison.
When the Changi Prison was redeveloped, the chapel and museum were relocated outside of the new prison complex. Today, a copy of the chapel and its murals can be found at the Changi Chapel and Museum at 1000, Upper Changi Road North. The original Warren murals, however, are still at the army logistics training centre in the Changi camp.
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(Call no.: RCLOS 940.5472595 BRY)
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The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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