In 1942, during WW2, the British Army sent John to Singapore with the Royal Corps of Signals, however his troupe-ship was diverted to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) when Singapore fell to the Japanese. John’s family remember him talking about being stationed at Trincomalee and many of his drawings and paintings are of the surrounding area. He mentioned that his unit was involved with the laying of a submarine telephone cable between Ceylon and mainland India. At some point he became very ill with malaria and, in later life, suffered some recurrent bouts.

His sketchbooks from that time – a selection shown here – clearly show an aptitude for drawing. He was visually stimulated by the environment, the landscape, the street-life and the people of Ceylon and constantly drew pictures of people and things that intrigued him.