State Library of South AustraliaState Library of South Australia

Prisoner of War Diary

Catalogue record

Creator: McLaren, Melvin Donald (Don)

Object Source: D 6478(L)

Date of creation : 1942-1945

Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.

Format : Diary, Diary, 130 x 170 x 40mm [open]; cover 135 x 85mm

Donated by Donated by Don McLaren

Diary kept by Melvin Donald McLaren, 8th Division, 2 A.I.F., whilst a prisoner of war in Japanese hands in Changi, Singapore, Thailand and Japan.

Although it looks unassuming, this notebook would have cost South Australian soldier Melvin Donald 'Don' McLaren his life had he been discovered writing it. This diary was kept by McLaren, 8th Division, Second Australian Imperial Force, as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II.

At 17 years of age, McLaren enlisted in 1940. He was a prisoner of war from 1942-1945. The diary chronicles the conditions and events he witnessed and experienced during captivity in Changi prison in Singapore, and later in Burma and Japan. His courage, loyalty to comrades and the ability to retain a sense of humour even under the most extreme circumstances, are evident in his writings. The diary was published as Mates in hell in 1998.


Further reading

McLaren, Don. Mates in hell: the secret diary of Don McLaren, POW of the Japanese 1942-1945. Henley Beach, S. Aust.: Seaview Press, 1998


Don McLaren-Mates in hell-the secret diary

South Australians at war: Prisoners of war

Australians at war searchAustralian Prisoners of war- Second World War-Prisoners of the Japanese]

Recording of parts of the diary on ABC's Radio National in 2013

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