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New Books Reviewed

 

Book Review

Escape to Japanese CaptivityEscape to Japanese Captivity

by

Mick and Margery Jennings

Mick and Margery Jennings' comfortable life in Singapore ended with the Japanese invasion in late 1941. Margery was captured in Sumatra after HMV Mata Hari, the ship taking her and other families to safety in Australia, was bombed. Mick left Singapore after the surrender in February 1942 when he and other soldiers commandeered a junk and sailed to Sumatra. After crossing the island, he and Bombardier Jackson set sail for Australia in a seventeen-foot dinghy. After an appalling ordeal at sea he too was captured and, having recovered in hospital, was incarcerated on Sumatra until moved to Changi Goal in May 1945.

Despite not being far apart, Mick and Margery never saw each other again, although they managed to exchange a few letters. Tragically Margery died of deprivation and exhaustion in May 1945, shortly before VJ day, while Mick miraculously survived.

Based on personal accounts and Margery’s secret diary, this outstanding book describes in graphic detail their attempted escapes and horrific imprisonments. Above all it is a moving testimony to the couple’s courage, resilience and ingenuity.

 

By Capt Mick Jennings, Margery Jennings
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 32 black and white
ISBN: 9781526783097
Published: 17th December 2020

 

 

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Book Review

In Honour of War HeroesnIn Honour of War Heroes

Colin St Clair Oakes and the Design of Kranji War Memorial

By

Athanasios Tsakonas

Kranji’s War Dead - Named after the local tree, pokok kranji or keranji Kranji is situated in the north of Singapore, on a small hill with commanding views over the Straits of Johor. The British first established a military base in this area in the 1930s, which also served as a depot for armaments and ammunition during the early days of World War II. When the Japanese attacked Singapore by air on 8 December 1941, the camp was turned into the battalion headquarters for the Australian forces. On 9 February 1942, Kranji was defended by the Australian 27th Brigade and a company of Chinese Dalforce volunteers when the Japanese first landed on Singapore soil at nearby Kranji Beach.

During the Japanese Occupation, Kranji camp was appropriated as a field hospital for the Indian National Army (INA) until its departure in 1944. The camp was then modified to accommodate returning POWs from the SiamBurma Death Railway as well as large numbers of sick and injured POWs transferred from Changi Prison. As with the small hospital at Changi, the makeshift “Kranji Hospital” also established a small cemetery for those who died within its care. When the war ended, this simple hospital graveyard would be expanded to become Singapore™s main war cemetery.

In early 1946, the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) would send officers and an architect to Singapore to advise on the general layout of Kranji for its impending transformation into a war cemetery and a memorial to the missing. Yet, plans for the present-day cemetery would not materialise immediately. As the IWGC had a long-standing policy of not taking over any remains that could not be satisfactorily proven as entitled to a war grave burial, there was a protracted impasse over identifying the remains of both combatants and non-combatants.

Today, Kranji contains the remains of 4,461 Commonwealth casualties of World War II from numerous burial sites spread across Singapore, including graves relocated from Changi, Buona Vista and Bidadari. The Chinese Memorial marks the collective grave for 69 Chinese servicemen killed during the Occupation in 1942. In addition, there are the Singapore (Unmaintainable Graves) Memorial, Singapore Cremation Memorial and the Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial; the latter commemorates more than 400 civilians and Commonwealth servicemen buried in a mass grave on the grounds of Singapore General Hospital. The Kranji Military Cemetery, which is the resting ground for non-world war burials, adjoins to the west.

Published by Marshall Cavendish

Author Athanasios Tsakonas

 

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Book Review

Harry’s War

From Dunkirk to the Burma Railway

A Doctor’s Diary

By

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

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910133205

 

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Book Review

Crushed Flower

Eight Women and their Stories about Japanese forced Prostitution

By

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

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crushed-Flower-Stories-Japanese-Prostitution/dp/9038928068

 

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Book Review

Ubon

The Last Camp Before Freedom

By

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

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ubon-Last-Camp-Before-Freedom-ebook/dp/B0896849Z3/ref=sr_1_1

 

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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

louisereynolds99@aol.com

High Wind Publishing

6 Prince Arthur Road

London NW3 6AU

 

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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

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/From-Shanghai-to-the-Burma-Railway-Hardback/p/17720

 

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Book Review

To War With the Walke

By

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.

In 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

https://www.waterstones.com/book/to-war-with-the-walkers/annabel-venning/9781473679306

 

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Book Review

Captive Artists

the unseen art of British Far East prisoners of war

by

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

https://www.carnegiepublishing.co.uk/product/captive-artists/

 

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Who Suffered in the Far East

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Ronnie.Taylor@fepow.family

 

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