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changi internment camp trophy

Although we don’t know the complete story of the Changi Trophy, we do know quite a lot, thanks to excellent research by David Masson.

In December 1941, the Japanese invaded Malaya with Singapore falling in February 1942. The Changi prison camp immediately began to fill with non-native civilians and according to the “Changi Guardian,” the camp newsletter of 14th April 1942, there were 75 Aberdonians interned. From the start, these optimists made plans for a “Release Dinner” in Singapore with a follow up one at the Caledonian Hotel in the Granite City.

In the early months of captivity, the internees organised themselves to make the most of their confinement. Sport and education were organised along with arts and crafts activities. The first football match on record was played in November 1942 and a League was set up with the teams named after British clubs. Six new footballs were purchased, and all matches were played on a pitch of 75 yards by 40 yards.

Aberdeen’s first match was a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. In all, eight teams were competing and after the first round of matches it was announced that David Taylor had made a shield for presentation to the League Champions. His name is stamped in the metal stand on the back.

Aberdeen had a great season, remaining undefeated throughout, winning five and drawing two of their matches. They scored 13 goals and conceded only 3 and the leading goalscorer was E. Dumbleton. The Shield was presented to Aberdeen representative Dr. B. M. Johns on the 27th of February 1943 at a camp concert.

A second season was played but Aberdeen finished in fourth place. However, there appears to have been no further organised football after that, possibly because there were too many injuries and perhaps the condition of the players had deteriorated too much in the conditions.

The man who made the trophy was David Phillips Taylor of Renfrew. He had lived and worked as an engineer – time served at a Clyde Shipyard, in Malaya from 1925 and was sent to Changi in early 1942. He was able to use his skills to help convert a camp boiler from oil to wood fired. He was appointed official camp engineer in May 1944. He survived the internment and the war but sadly died in Renfrew on 30th June 1949. His obituary in the “Straights Times” recorded that he had been a good goalkeeper.

No one at the club is very sure how it found its way to Pittodrie from Singapore, but we have to assume a surviving internee and Dons fan brought it back at the end of WWII, perhaps to coincide with that Release Dinner at the Caledonian.

Next Match
10 Jul 2024 / 19:00 / Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead