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'Yesterday, today, and Toodyay'

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 384

Scope and Contents

This is a semi-autobiographical memoir recording how Helen Shaw’s parents travelled to Malaya in September 1940 during the Second World War, where her father, Dr William D. Ainslie, took up the post of Medical Officer of Health, Penang. Shaw was born in May 1941. She recounts how she and her mother Marcia Margaret Ainslie were evacuated from Penang to Singapore, and then Java, after Penang was bombed by the Japanese in December 1941; their travel from Java to Western Australia in January 1942; their experience as evacuees with few resources living in Toodyay and other places in the state; communications from January 1943 onwards revealing that her father had been interned with other civilians in Changi; their return to the United Kingdom on SS ‘Nellore’ via the Suez Canal between October 1943 and January 1944; and how they stayed with her mother’s parents in Northumberland until her father’s repatriation in February 1946 and the family was re-united. The memoir includes extracts from five letters written by Shaw’s mother to her father and extracts from her mother’s diary for January-December 1942. It concludes with a two page extract of a journal kept by her father, ‘Hut 135 - Journal’.


  • Creation: 2008 - 2009

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 envelope(s) (1 envelope) : paper/photograph

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mrs Helen Isabel Shaw in 2011.


This collection level entry was created by MJC.


Shaw, Helen Isabel, 1941-

Includes index.
2015-10-29 09:20:14+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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