The Changi Murals
The story of how and when these were painted is as follows:-
During the Japanese occupation, Block 151 was a hospital for P.O.Ws. One of the patients was Bombardier Stanley Warren, who was suffering from renal disease, as well as malnutrition. Six stones had to be removed from his kidney and Stanley began the long and uncertain struggle for convalescence. During this time he heard the sound of Australian voices singing Merbecke's arrangement of the Litany and this gave him the resolve to employ his artistic talent to create a symbol of his own faith and gratitude for being alive.
Accordingly, shortly after his recovery Stanley Warren began to paint despite the difficulty of getting brushes and materials: for example blue paint was made from crushed billiard chalk. His murals on the walls of the Block, which was then known as St. Luke's Chapel, depicted scenes from the New Testament. They were 'The Last Supper'; 'A Christmas Greeting to the World'; 'Evangelism' and 'The Descent from the Cross'. A further mural was destroyed when the Japanese took charge of Block 151 and knocked a hole through that wall to make a doorway. The remaining murals were distempered over and escaped attention until, in 1958, thirteen years after the liberation of Singapore, someone noticed coloured images appearing through the distemper. The murals were thus rediscovered and a search began for the unknown artist.
The search, which involved the English national press, ended in Stanley Warren being found at Sir William Collins' Secondary School in North London. He was persuaded to return to Singapore and was flown there by the Royal Air Force in 1963 to repaint the four pictures remaining. These have since been seen by thousands of visitors, for whom the enduring message must surely be that, in the end, victory of the powers of light over those of darkness will always come.
One of the reproduction murals at the Changi Chapel Museum