Drew, Eric

Eric Drew (1892-?), Australian soldier (private collection)

Autumn 2023 we received this portrait from an Australian collector who came across an old album with photos and other memories of WWII. There’s no name on the drawing, but since it was found together with a birthday card addressed to `Eric‘ and a pre-printed note addressed to `E. Drew` we assume that the man on this portrait is Mr. Eric Drew. Brouwers notebook confirms this assumption: it mentions his drawing of the portrait of Eric Drew on March 15, 1943.

What do we know of this Eric Drew? First of all that he was born in Koroit and that he lived at 21 Carnarvan St., Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria when he joined the Australian Army. He was sent into the war as a member of the 8th Division of the A.I.F. and eventually became one of the 15,000 Australian soldiers of his Division who were captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. As P.O.W. he has spent time in Changi, since Henk Brouwer drew his portrait there on 15 March 1943.

The pre-printed note of captain I.L. Lloyd of the H.M.A.T. Duntroon shows that Eric Drew returned home safely in October 1945, together with hundreds of fellow-soldiers who all looked back on `weary years of incarceration as P.O.W. in Malaya`.

In our search for further information in the National Archives of Australia we found several P.O.W.’s named Eric Drew. But we found two documents that most probably refer to the Eric Drew on this portrait: an internment card and an Attestation Form. Both documents mention the Army Number VX32879 and Mrs. M. (or Mary) Drew as his wife. Most probably Eric Drew was born 8th July 1892,which means that he was 51 years old when he was portrayed.

Do you have more information about Eric Drew? Do you know where we might reach his family? Please let us know at info@henkbrouwerchangi.com.