Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ted Kurluk's Engraved Mess Tin

                                                        Signalman Ted Kurluk, R.C.C.S.

Had an interesting visit with Dan Kurluk, his wife and son. Dan’s brother, Ted, was with the Signal Corps in Hong Kong.  He was eventually sent to Japan, spending Christmas, 1943 onboard a ship bound for Narumi POW camp.  The family shared some stories, photos and other memorabilia with me. 

Ted was quite an artist.  On his aluminum mess tin (which interestingly appears to be an item that originally belonged to one of the British soldiers at Hong Kong – see below) he engraved pictures, words and images, reflecting his experiences in Hong Kong and Japan.

The side with the handle attached has the name of a company located in Birmingham stamped on it with the date, 1939. Also present is the British Broad Arrow, a mark signifying that the item belonged to the British government, a practice going back centuries.  After the battle of Hong Kong when the Canadians were gathered in the camps at North Point and Shamshuipo, most of them had virtually none of their kit with them.  So everyone scrounged around to find whatever utensils they could.  They might refurbish an old pot or if they were lucky they might find a discarded mess tin or other useful container left by a departing soldier or casualty.  Ted was fortunate to have a good aluminum utensil in his possession and obviously kept it with him for the duration of the war.  It’s a fine piece and one the family can cherish, not only for what it says about Ted as an artist, but also for the stories of his experiences it records.

Thanks to Dan Kurluk and his family for their permission to include the photos on my blog.


  1. Fantastic post! By the way, do you know the specific maker name of the tin?

  2. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  3. Ernie Thomas was my aunt Dorothy’s first husband. The story of his dad demise is recounted here by Gerry Gerrard. However, Gerry talks about Ernie Thomas in the POW camp here: The first version is what Dorothy heard from the army, but I imagine they may have wanted to spare her the imaginings of his hellish life as a POW.

    1. Oops, read “sad” for “dad” in that last comment. Gerry gave some more details about Ernie’s experience here:

  4. The official story aligns with the Gerard’s version on this current page. You can see it here:

  5. And I seem to have posted all this as a comment on the wrong page. I thought I was here: