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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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