However, Searle used his talent for quite another purpose during the Second World War. Whilst serving with the Royal Engineers in Singapore, he was captured by the Japanese and spent three and a half years as a prisoner working on the infamous Thai-Burma railway. Nearly 16,000 Allied servicemen died during it's construction.
During captivity he secretly made sketches of the hardships endured by prisoners. He published the drawings after his liberation, with many of the pictures now kept at the Imperial War Museum in London.