Prisoner of War Starts Ukulele Business — JMG Industries

The Daily News (Perth) on 16 May 1950 reported how Les O’Connell and Jack Maskiell, both former POWs in Changi Prison, began making a ukulele in Changi to past the time. They used a knife, coconut shells and bits of old tea chests to make their first ukulele. Upon returning to Western Australia, they took six months to build their first uke for sale. Their ukes sold well in Australia and South-East Asia, and by 1950 had sold 3000 ukuleles and 700 guitars.

And here they are:

JMG Industries

The craftsman at left is John Hetherington, at right is Jack Maskiell.

Published in: on July 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I recently bought a J. M.G. ..Guitar in a case, the guitar is a Aristocrat Model # 1217 according to the hand written label inside (and has a signed handwritten set of initials ), the case has a label that says Westralian Leather Goods Pty Ltd Perth W.A., Can you tell me anything more about this guitar and It is made out of a sort of plywood and has a scratchplate/pickguard and case?

    • Hi Ward,

      Thanks for dropping by. I know very little about these instruments, apart from what I read in the old newspaper. Are you happy with the guitar as a musical instrument? I’ve seen one of the ukuleles that these guys had made. Looked and sounded pretty good.

      All the best,

  2. Hi Ward, I also have a JMG Aristocrat guitar, serial #777 and was trying to get it valued. My uncle bought it for my mother in the 50’s in Fremantle, and she played it until handing it down to me and it still has a beautiful tone, I took the strings off and have stored it since. Can you let me know if you found any info out there that can help 🙂 thankyou

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