Japan PoW's sketchbook to be auctioned

A sketchbook depicting the "bitter experiences" of life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp is being auctioned in Lincolnshire.

The drawings, by L/Cpl John Picken, include images of inmates and guards at the Fukuoka camp.

They were found in the garage of his Lincoln home after his death in 1996.

Mr Picken's son Keith said he was selling the diary because he did not want to be reminded of the camp where his father "went to hell and back".

L/Cpl Picken, born in Wolverhampton, served in the Royal Mechanical Engineers during World War II.

After being taken prisoner, he began sketching his surroundings at the Fukuoka camp, and at the mines where he was forced to work.

Caught pneumonia

Mr Picken junior, 62, of Sudbrooke Park, said: "It was a subject he didn't talk about much because he had some bitter experiences and lost a lot of comrades.

"He worked down the mines where he caught pneumonia which was left untreated.

"Once, a Japanese officer hit him in the mouth with a rifle butt and he lost some of his teeth, then they took out the stumps without morphine.

Image caption Memories of the camp gave the former prisoner nightmares

"In later life, if he saw anything relating to the Japanese PoW camps, it gave him nightmares.

"We inherited the house after my father's death and found the sketchbook and letters behind a wine rack in the garage.

Family letters

"It's not something I want to keep because he didn't want me to know about it.

"I'd sooner remember the good times and not the bad ones, so I've decided to sell them."

The book also includes drawings and poetry by fellow prisoners, as well as letters sent by his family after they found out he had been captured.

On 28 June 1943, his fiancée Iris wrote: "Everyone here is well and Jack darling be patient as things are looking very bright here.

"My mother says you will not want any rice pudding when you get home. She thinks you will have had enough for now."

The sketches and letters will go under the hammer at Golding Young and Thomas Mawer's Lincoln saleroom on 20 July.

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