The Coded Changi Quilts

Photograph: British Red Cross Museum & Archives (via The Guardian)

When Singapore surrendered to the Japanese army in 1942, many British women and children were sent to an internment camp at Changi Prison. Men were sent to a separate military prison and, since no communication between the two sites was permitted, families did not know the fate of their loved ones. Canadian internee Ethel Mulvany devised an ingenious method to let husbands and relatives  know they were alive. The female internees embroidered coded pictures onto squares of quilts, incorporating secret messages into their designs and signing each picture with their names. 

Honora Crawshaw and Mary Lowe's squares from the quilt. Photograph: British Red Cross Museum & Archives

One quilt now hangs at the British Red Cross museum in London and another two quilts at the Australian War Memorial Museum, Canberra. 


  1. I remember seeing some of these at the Changi Museum!

  2. I would love to see one. London is not on the horizon at the moment but I remain hopeful.


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