Papers of John Noel Douglas Harrison (1911-1980)
- 1.54m (11 boxes) + 1 folio box
- Available for reference
The papers were donated to the Library in 1994.
The collection comprises diaries and notebooks kept in Changi
Prison in Singapore, correspondence, personal notebooks, desk
diaries, Federation of Malaya Police publications, photographs
and Harrison's autobiography. An oil portrait and watercolours
are located in Pictorial.
John Noel Douglas Harrison spent 25 years in Malaya and China,
surviving several years in Changi prison camp and a murder attempt
by bandits, before settling in Tasmania in 1958.
Harrison was born in 1911. He left England at the age of 22 to
take up an appointment as probationary Assistant Commissioner
in the Malaya Police Service. In 1933 he was sent to China to
study Cantonese for two years, and he was later to teach this
language to fellow prisoners in Changi. He was a POW in Changi
in 1942 and 1943 before being moved to Sime Road in May 1944 until
his release in 1945. While imprisoned he used his talent for drawing,
his sketches and paintings depicting many aspects of prison life.
He was later to exhibit in the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon.
In 1948, at the beginning of the Malayan Emergency, Harrison was
appointed Superintending Officer of Police at Tapah, one of the
areas worst affected by Communist terrorism. Two months after
his appointment as CPO, Negri Sembilan, in May 1949, he was ambushed
at Durian Tipus and lost part of his right hand. For a year from
April 1952 he was in charge of retraining all police officers
and men, and then served two years as CPO, Perak. His final posting
before retirement was to Alor Star, Kedah/Perlis in 1955 as Chief
Police Officer. John Harrison died in October 1980.
Series 1 - Changi POW camp, Singapore
Diaries (2 volumes), 1942-45
The first diary was commenced in February 1942 in cell 22 D 111
Changi Convict Prison, Singapore. For safety it was sealed and
buried in the prison garden in early 1943 and disinterred on Liberation
in 1945. The second diary was commenced in September 1945, a month
after release. The diaries were later edited, and sketches, paintings,
photographs and newspaper clippings added.
An overview of life in Changi, commenced in July 1961.
Changi Cantonese instruction notebooks, 1942-45
Harrison was a prisoner from February 1942-May 1944 in Changi
and then in Sime Road till August 1945. Prisoners organised classes
amongst themselves and John Harrison taught Cantonese. These volumes,
bound in Changi, were mainly written out in connection with his
(i) Chinese characters grouped under radicals - very detailed
with some unusual radicals. Notes on Chinese account books.
(ii) Radicals of Chinese characters
(iii) Hokkien. Province of China dialect notes. Lists of trades,
measurements, amusements etc.
(iv) Verse and prose (French and English), lists of identity disks
by Nationality, names and addresses of people in England and Australia.
(v) A book of verse for boys and girls compiled by J.C.
(vi) Pink 'Jotter book'-used after volume 1 of the diary was finished.
Series 2 - Correspondence, personal notebooks, diaries
Autobiography ('Autobiography of J.N.D.Harrison, ex Colonial
Service. Title not decided') (1 folder)
Correspondence, 1947-72 (1 folder)
Names include: H.B. Langworthy, I.W. Blellock, Brigadier I.C.
Harris, P. Townsend, Wan Ibrahim bin Wan Soloh, C.J. Brodie, Mohd
Salleh B Ismael, Abdul Ranee Bin Yuncos, Che Wan, J. Chadwick,
Leong Yew Koh, Tunku Ismail bin Tunku Yahaya, A.W. Morgan, D.C.
MacGillivray, W.LW. Carbonnel, E.V. Peers, N. Gray, J. Nicholls,
J. Mead, D. MacIntosh, and C.W.D. Hall. Letters to the editor
of Malaysia and correspondence on War of the Running
Dog by Noel Barber, 1972 (10 years war). Letter to The
Bulletin-Malaysia on new Communist pressures, 1969.
Subjects include: transfer within Colonial Police Service outside
Malaya; offer of post at Hong Kong; dinner by Chinese community,
Alor Star, and letter of thanks from Chinese Community; appreciation
success of Baling talks; retirement, conferring of the Kedah Commemoration
Medal, the Kedah Distinguished Service Star and the Perak Meritorious
Service medal. Letters to the editor of Malaysia.
Personal notebooks (1 folder)
23 May 1946-13 Dec. 1946; 14 June 1946-31 Aug. 1946; 24 April
1947-15 Nov. 1947; 12 July 1948-Dec. 1948(Routine); 11 July 1948-1
Sept. 1948(Information book); Feb. 1950-9 July 1952.
Certificates, awards, agreements(retirement), citizenship
registration(copy), Lodge, etc.(1 folder)
1946, 1951, 1958
Desk diaries 1947-1952 (1 box)
Desk diaries 1953-1955 (1 box)
Desk diaries 1956-1958 (1 box)
Series 3 - Federation of Malaya Police - Printed material
The Federation of Malaya and its police, 1786-1952
Commissioner's standing orders
Police ordinance with rules
Organisation of a police district
Organisation of a police contingent
Organisation of a special constabulary
Peraturan Pekerjaan police
Annual sports (1 box)
The conduct of anti-terrorist operations in Malaya
Federation of Malaya staff list, 1957
Programme of Merdeka celebrations in Kedah, 1957
Ceremonial parade... confer the title "Royal"...1958
Maps; Malaya, 1950, Canton, undated
Typescripts on the Federation of Malaya Police, the Emergency
and communist terrorism.
Malayan Police Magazine, 1937-41, 1951-52 (1 box)
Malayan Police Magazine, 1953-57 (1 box)
Malayan Police Magazine, 1958-64 (1 box)
Series 4 - Photographs
Photograph Albums, 1934-58
Farewell retirement photos, 23 Aug. 1958; official portrait
Special Constables farewell parade, 26 June, 1958
Alor Star, 1957,1958
Kedah/Perlis police contingent athletic sports. 1958
Baling talks, 1955
1934- Malay opera, Gibralta, Tangier, Port Said etc.(1 folio box)
Located in Pictorial Section
- Small oil portrait on canvas of John Harrison (c.1930)
- 22 watercolours and 10 pencil sketches depicting aspects of
prison life in Changi (mainly 1944)
SERIES PIECES BOX
1 1-3 1
1 4-9 2
2 10-14 3
2 15-20 4
2 21-24 5
2 25-27 6
3 28 7
3 29 8
3 30 9
3 31 10
3 32 11
4 1-8 1 folio box
Guide prepared November 1994. Last updated 21 August 1996