Visiting for the first time the museum and chapel dedicated to the prisoner-of-war camp at Changi in Singapore, the first surprising thing we learned was that 90% of the visitors come from Australia.
Changi has always had a special resonance for Aussies, some 16,000 of them being incarcerated there after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. The camp had a particular reputation for the brutality of its regime.
A second surprise was to discover that Australians were by no means the largest contingent there. There were twice as many British prisoners. But most numerous of all were the Indians, members of the Indian Army based in Singapore, fighting with the British.
I wondered why the Indians are scarcely mentioned in the excellent museum displays. This gradually became clearer. At that time, many Indians were concerned primarily to evict the British from India, so when the Japanese offered them an alternative to the hardships of POW life, many decided to join up with the emerging Indian National Army in support of the Japanese war effort.
The most significant contributions of the INA were in fighting against the British at the Battles of Imphal and Kohima (in North-East India) and through Burma.
Later that day, we came across a memorial to the INA in the Esplanade Gardens.