It is with great sadness that we learned on June 26th 2013 of the death of Roderick (Rod) Suddaby, Keeper of the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum.
It is impossible to over-estimate the contribution that Rod made to the awareness and importance of research into civilian internment in the Far East. As Ron Bridge, ex-chairman of the Association British Civilian Internees Far Eastern Region (ABCIFER) has said, Rod was pivotal in guiding him to look at sources of British Civilian Internees in the Far East. He also culled the manuscript holdings in the IWM for the names of internees enabling Ron to compile a complete list of approximately 20,000.
Rod’s support for others researching in the same area was unfailing. His knowledge and memory for names and places of civilian internment in the Far East was prodigious and he never hesitated to point the researcher to new source material and/or suggest further research. Of equal importance was his understanding of the source material itself. Whether it was the complete bound copies of newspapers from the men’s section of Changi or the smaller diaries, letters and post cards of internees or even the needle left in a birthday card made by a female internee, Rod grasped the value and importance of each and every item. As a result he inspired confidence in ex-internees and their families who knew their donations to the IWM would be treasured and used appropriately.
That integrity and enthusiasm for the vast variety of source material also inspired researchers too. Each of us on the organising committee for this Singing to Survive concert can vouch for Rod’s valued contribution to their work and lives, whether it was support with research sources, encouragement with writing or caring for the donated items of loved ones. His influence has touched us all in so many ways.
Rod supported the idea of this concert from the outset. He wanted very much to attend this performance but, sadly, his untimely death robbed him of the opportunity to do so. It also robbed us and all those connected, however tenuously, with the Second World War in the Far East, of a friend, a champion and a kind and thoughtful guide and mentor.
His death is and will always be an enormous loss to the Far Eastern internee story. We thank him for all he did to raise awareness in and the importance of the POW and Civilian Internee records and experiences and take this opportunity to pay tribute to him.
Rod Suddaby, archivist, friend and champion of Far East internees and POWs.