On January 11th 1945, B-29 42-24704, piloted by Don Humphries, participated in a mission over Singapore in an attempt to take out the floating dry docks there. The bombing mission was a success, but afterward Japanese gunners hit the plane and the right wing fell off. All the men bailed out with parachutes. Govednik landed near the burning fuselage. None of his companions was nearby, so he took off in the jungle. Within two days, he was captured by the Japanese and taken to Outram Road Prison, where he spent eight months in solitary confinement.
His diet consisted of gruel with a fish head in it and powdered milk. His weight dropped to 85 pounds. From the start, Govednik stood up to his captors with quiet toughness, giving only his name, rank and serial number. He turned large humiliations into small victories. Once when he was caught tapping messages in Morse code to the prisoner in the next cell, "...a guard came into my cell brandishing a two handed, samurai sword," he wrote. "He cowered me onto the wooden bed and put the point of the sword at my throat. He threatened that I could be beheaded if my behavior didn't improve. He said we were the worst prisoners he ever saw. I took it as a compliment."
Govednik fought his depression with ingenious methods. "I developed a routine," he wrote. "I would pace around my cell 25 paces clockwise, stop for a few minutes and look out the metal grill at the bottom of the door. Then pace around counterclockwise for 25 paces." He battled his desire to commit suicide by using fish bones to carve intricate mathematical equations on his wall. He prayed. And he dreamed about food.
"I would wake up with the side of my face and the boards that were my bed wet with saliva," he wrote. In September 1945, near the time of his scheduled execution, the war had ended, and he was released to the Allies. "A nurse came to my berth and asked me if I wanted a back rub," he wrote. "I told her to go ahead if she could find some back muscles to rub. She rolled me over and stroked her warm, soft, gentle fingers up and down my spinal column. "I was going home. I fell asleep."