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Book Review

Under the Heel of Bushido

Last Voices of the Jewish POWs of the Japanese in the Second World War


Martin Sugarman

Foreword by Colin Shindler

Under the Heel of Bushido

  • The untold story of the ordeal of Jewish POWs of the Japanese
  • Record of Honour of Jewish POWs
  • First-hand accounts and original photographs, never before published

I feel very privileged to write a review of this exceptional book. I could not put it down, and I would consider it a must read. I wish to salute the author for an unbelievable and amazing work of scholarship … This book deserves to be in every library, school and home. Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, Australian Journal of Jewish Studies

This book contains dozens of accounts – both horrific and inspiring, amusing and sad – of the experiences of Jewish prisoners of war and internees from Commonwealth and Dutch forces during the Second World War, as well as dozens of photographs from private collections. Virtually all the material used here is previously unpublished, and was gathered from personal interviews and archives worldwide.

The book is a tribute to the courage and suffering of these men and women of the Jewish community, whose experiences have been virtually ignored in the library of writings on this subject. Veterans interviewed by the author gave painful testimonies which are only a snapshot of the total Jewish involvement, as so many of the 550 or so Jewish prisoners of war who survived their ordeal passed away before they could tell their stories.

There was a particular Jewish participation and encounter with the Japanese, and this book now chronicles that unique account for the first, and probably only, time. It deserves to be widely read.

Vallentie Mitchell Publishers





Book Review

Harry’s War

From Dunkirk to the Burma Railway

A Doctor’s Diary


Harry Silman and Jacqueline Passman

Harry's WarHarry Silman joined the army as a doctor in September 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. He cared for the wounded under bombardment on the beaches of Dunkirk and was one of the last to be shipped out during the mass retreat in May 1940.

His division was en route to Africa when the Japanese the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. The troops were diverted to assist in the defence of Singapore where it was their ill fortune to arrive just before the island fell in February 1942.

Harry spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of the Japanese, first at Changi PoW Camp, then up country in the jungle hell of the Burma Railway. What makes Harry’s story remarkable is not that he a secret illegal diary throughout his captivity, but that he managed to write a comprehensive account of his harrowing experiences in the jungle camps when he himself was weakened and exhausted, caring for hundreds of sick and dying men. His diary is articulate, graphic and compassionate, lit with the occasional ray of humour. This is Harry’s war in Harry’s words, edited and with commentary by his daughter Jacqueline Passman.

Published by Tambar Arts

ISMB 978-1-910133-20-0

Available from Amazon




Book Review

Crushed Flower

Eight Women and their Stories about Japanese forced Prostitution


Marguerite Hamer-Monod de Froideville (Author), Emma Wilson (Translator)

Crushed FlowerEvery woman who has been sexually abused feels pain not only in a physical sense, but she also suffers from deep psychological wounds. Nowadays, rape victims can be treated by medical and/or psychological specialists, and most of the time do not have to hide what has happened to them. However, during the time of Japanese expansion into China in the 1930’s, and during the Second World War, psychological care was not yet as developed as it is today. Severe violations of human rights and human dignity occurred during this time. The pain caused by Japanese forced prostitution in the 20th century, which involved continuous sexual abuse, day after day, month after month, and even year after year, has completely destroyed the lives of innumerable women in South East Asia. It was only in 1993 that the first victim made her story public. After her initial disclosure, other victims started coming forth with their own truths. Still, the silence on this issue had lasted for almost 50 years, and the Japanese have used this long silence as leverage to deny the issue in its entirety, up until the present day. Eight Dutch victims of Japanese forced prostitution and/or their relatives gave Marguerite permission to document their experiences in this book. May universal human rights forever be respected by everyone, everywhere, and towards everybody.

Author:- From 1998 until 2002, Marguerite Hamer-Monod de Froideville was a confidant of the Dutch victims of the Japanese forced prostitution. She also was the chairman of the Project Implementation Committee in The Netherlands (PICN). This foundation implemented the so-called ‘Life Improvement Project’ for the benefit of Dutch former ‘Comfort Girls. The Life Improvement Project was founded in the Netherlands by the Japanese Asian Womens Fund. Marguerite Hamer had a long lasting and intense bond of friendship with some of these women.

Available from Amazon

Paperback £15.62




Book Review

Frank Pantridge MC


Cecil Frank Pantridge MCLowery

Countless thousands of men and women around the world have good reason to be thankful that Frank Pantridge survived three and a half years of brutal Japanese captivity. Had he not, they too would in all probability have died too.

Taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore in February 1942 Frank was forced to endure appalling deprivation. Conditions on the Burma railway were notorious, and the death rate was horrendous.

On returning to Belfast in late 1945 Frank specialised in heart diseases. Convinced that the prompt application of electric shock after cardiac arrest could save lives he reasoned that ventricular defibrillation should be applied not just in hospitals but in the workplace, the home, the street or ambulance.

His first ‘portable’ defibrillator was produced in 1965 and over the intervening years evolved into the compact units so prevalent today. The importance of Pantridge’s invention was well demonstrated when US President Lyndon B Johnston’s life was saved in 1972.

This stirring biography reveals the full story of a remarkable man who survived against the odds to save countless lives.

Imprint: Pen & Sword Military

File Size: 9.0 MB (.epub)

Pages: 176

ISBN: 9781526777348

eBook Released: 2nd September 2020 




Book Review


The Last Camp Before Freedom


Ray Withnall

Ubon - The Last Camp Before FreedomUbon: The Last Camp Before Freedom is the untold story of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp created for three thousand men to construct an airstrip at Ubon in north-east Thailand. It begins when Thailand became a Japanese ally, followed by the secret formation of the Seri Thai resistance movement by a prominent Thai politician to oppose Japanese domination. Eventually, the British Special Operations Executive arrived in the Ubon area to train the Seri Thai, but the Japanese surrender abruptly changed their plan. Extensive research in Ubon has revealed the camp’s daily life, its unorthodox liberation, and the exceptional generosity from Ubon’s citizens, which is commemorated by a lasting memorial. The story describes disarming the Japanese, identifying war criminals, and suppressing remaining resistance, which sometimes ended tragically.It is a story of the faith held by the Prisoners of War, the Seri Thai, and the people of Thailand that one day the Japanese will be finished.

Available from Amazon

Paperback £9.99

Also available on Kindle




Book Review

Echoes of Captivity

Edited by Louise Cordingly

Echoes of CaptivityIn 1941-42, Japan took more than 100,000 prisoners of war in the Far East. These prisoners were used as slave labour on the Death Railway and across the region.

More than a quarter of all prisoners died - from starvation, overwork, torture or tropical disease.

Their harrowing experiences in captivity have been chronicled in detail. But the story of what happened after they returned home has rarely been told.

For many, the war did not end in 1945.

For decades to come, the former prisoners had nightmares and flashbacks. Their wives and families struggled to cope with damaged men who could not find the words to talk about their experiences.

The echoes of captivity carried on right to the end of the survivors’ lives - and continue today in the lives of their children.

Louise Cordingly, whose own father was a POW, has travelled across the country to collect their families stories.

These children - now in their 60s, 70s and 80s - speak about living with the trauma experienced by their fathers.

Their stories are searing in their honesty. None of them will leave you unmoved.

£20 including P&P

Available from Louise Reynolds

High Wind Publishing

6 Prince Arthur Road

London NW3 6AU




Book Review

From Shanghai

To the

Burma Railway

The Memoirs & Letters of Richard Laird

Edited by Rory Laird

From Shanghai to the Burma RailwayRichard Lairds previously unpublished record of his wartime experience as a Japanese prisoner of war ranks among the most graphic of this shocking and deservedly popular genre.

Captured after fighting in the Malayan Campaign he was incarcerated in Changi before being drafted as slave labour with ‘F’ Force on the notorious Burma Railway. He was one of only 400 out of 1600 to survive Songkurai No 2 Camp, despite disease and terrible hardship.

His moving memoir begins with a rare description of ex-patriate life in 1930’s Shanghai with the Sino-Japanese war raging around the European cantonments.

An additional dimension to his story is the developing relationship between the author and Bobbie Coupar Patrick to whom he became engaged shortly before the fall of Singapore. Bobbie’s letters graphically described her dramatic escape to Australia and work for Force 136. They were reunited in Colombo, Ceylon and their son has been instrumental in compiling this exceptional record.

Three appendices round off this superb book including the official report on the hardships and losses suffered by ‘F’ Force.


Imprint: Pen & Sword Military

Pages: 208

Illustrations: 32 black and white

ISBN: 9781526771117

Published: 3rd April 2020




Book Review

To War With the Walke


Annabel Venning

To War With The WalkersHow would it feel if all your sons and daughters were caught up in war?

What would it be like to spend six years fearing what a telegram might bring?

That was the heart-wrenching reality faced by so many families throughout the Second World War, including the parents of the Walker children. From the Blitz to the battlefields of Europe and the Far East, this is the remarkable story of four brothers and two sisters who were swept along by the momentous events of the war.

Harold was a surgeon in a London hospital alongside his sister Ruth, a nurse, when the bombs began to fall in 1940. Peter was captured in the fall of Singapore. Edward fought the Germans in Italy, and Walter the Japanese in Burma, while in London, glamorous Bee hoped for lasting happiness with an American airman.

InĀ To War With the Walkers, Annabel Venning, Walter's granddaughter, tells the enthralling and moving tales of her relatives, six ordinary young men and women, who each faced an extraordinary struggle for survival.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 9781473679306

Number of pages: 336

Weight: 572 g

Dimensions: 236 x 160 x 36 mm




Book Review

Captive Artists

the unseen art of British Far East prisoners of war


Meg Parkes - Geoff Gill - Jenny Wood

Captive ArtistsCaptive Artists brings together for the first time this secret art, created by over 65 previously unrecognised artists, all British servicemen, who documented survival during Far East captivity. In colour, pencil, pen and ink, even needle and thread and clay, this uncompromising and at times challenging collection illustrates both the importance of art as therapy, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Risking harsh retribution, including beatings, further privations, and at the very least confiscation, Far East prisoners of war (FEPOW) were still determined to provide the world with visual accounts of their brutal existence.

Doing so was strictly forbidden, so their art had to be done on whatever scraps of paper or other materials they could beg, steal or borrow, and their paints and tools were ingeniously acquired or home made.

Humorous cartoons, caricatures and portraits bring the men to life. Glorious watercolours of landscapes, local flora and fauna, camp life and medical ingenuity poignantly reveal how the men lived and survived in the face of such deprivation and despair. Survival, and the artists’ need to record it in myriad ways, underpins this unique collection of unseen Second World War art. Not only is the art often of an astonishingly high standard, it is also a sobering but vital portrayal of mans’ inhumanity to man.

Author: Meg Parkes, Geoff Gill, Jenny Wood

Imprint: Palatine Books

Binding: Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-910837-28-3

Extent: 400 pages

Format: 243 x 169 mm

Illustrations: over 270, colour

Pub. date: 2 December 2019


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