Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Victoria Gallery and Museum.

This resource explores a hidden history of the Second World War, the stories of the military and civillian men who became Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW). It was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Captive Memories history programme.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3 History: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • KS3 PSHE: Health and Wellbeing: to understand what can affect wellbeing and resilience


Discussion Ideas

Note: For all discussion ideas attached to this resource, please download the full teacher pack

  • What examples of the challenges the prisoners faced can be seen within the pictures drawn and painted by the men? (For example, the environment, hard physical work, weather, disease, isolation, lack of adequate food, lack of communication with home).
  • What about examples of things the men made or found that helped them survive? (For example, creating artworks, crafting equipment, immersing themselves in nature).
  • What else helped the FEPOWs survive their harsh treatment? (A sense of 'brotherhood' - looking out for each other and caring for each other).
  • How do you think the men's experiences would have affected them in their lives once they got back home? Think about:
    • Their physical health.
    • Their mental health.
    • How they relate to other people.
    • Their relationship to food and materials.


Activity Ideas

Note: For all activity ideas attached to this resource, please download the full teacher pack

  • Write a postcard home hiding the truth about life in the camps. (FEPOWs were not allowed to tell the truth). Only 25 words was allowed per postcard.
    • Now write a postcard imagining you could tell the truth about life in the camps. You only have 25 words.
  • Use the further information in the downloadable teacher resource  to support role play or hot seat activities.
  • Imagine you only have the following materials:
    • Scrap wood, wire, broken razor blades, string, rope, material from clothing, latex from rubber trees (can use as glue), bamboo, kapok (a bit like cotton - good for stuffing pillows), a few small tools stolen from the Japanese workshops.
    • How could you use these to solve the following problems?
      1. Moving water from a stream to the camp.
      2. Cooking food.
      3. Keeping the sun off you.
      4. Keeping mosquitos off you.
      5. Moving bags of rice.
      6. Sleeping comfortably.