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 – shown on the previous page – clearly show an aptitude for drawing. He also painted these watercolours during his time in Ceylon.