Two Bloggers Tackle WWII – Book Reviews | Pacific Paratrooper

The ordeals of the POWs put to slave labour by their Japanese masters on the ‘Burma Railway’ have been well documented yet never cease to shock. It is impossible not to be horrified and moved by their stoic courage in the face of inhuman brutality, appalling hardship and ever-present death.While Barry Custance Baker was enduring his 1000 days of captivity, his young wife Phyllis was attempting to correspond with him and the families of Barry’s unit. Fortunately these moving letters have been…

Source: Two Bloggers Tackle WWII – Book Reviews | Pacific Paratrooper

The History Girls: Reconciliation by Julie Summers

I promised last month I was going to tell a story of the most remarkable show of reconciliation I have ever come across. In August 1945 prisoners of the Japanese were released after three and a half years in captivity. The had been used as slaves by their captors, most famously on the Thailand Burma Railway, but also in mines, on roads and in quarries. Of the 60,000 men who were forced to work on the notorious Death Railway, over 12,000 never returned. It is said that the cost was a life for every sleeper laid along its 415 kilometer length. In addition to the Allied soldiers who died, a shocking 83,000 Malay, Burmese and Tamils also perished, mostly of disease as…

Source: The History Girls: Reconciliation by Julie Summers

Illustrated London News May 15, 1943—General Alexander

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THE BRITISH “ALEXANDER THE GREAT”: GENERAL SIR HAROLD ALEXANDER, WHOSE SUPERB STRATEGY IN THE BATTLE OF AFRICA HAS BEEN HAILED BY OUR ALLIES AND BY NEUTRAL STATES AS EPOCH-MAKING.

A second triumph has come to General Alexander; with Montgomery in the field, he planned the campaign that started at El Alamein, and now, as chief strategist of the Tunisian campaign, he has used the men of the Eighth Army, the First Army, the Second American Corps and the Corps d’Afrique with brilliant results. He has completely out-generalled von Arnim and helped to bring about the repaying of the Dunkirk debt.  General Alexander was appointed C.-in-C., Middle East, in 1942, after fighting, as G.O.C., Burma, the brilliant delaying action which saved India by giving us time to reorganise. It was he, too, who was in command at last on the beaches of Dunkirk, and on that occasion as well, no  little credit is due to him as a master strategist. Now these bitter memories will be wiped out, and he has the satisfaction of knowing the enemy are suffering the same as our men at Dunkirk.

Reading the above, which is from my original edition of The Illustrated London News, 15th May 1943, the one thing that strikes me above all is the clue the last sentence gives about the reality of Dunkirk. Only the brain-dead would not have realised that that episode of the war had been an unmitigated disaster.

© Sarah Vernon

VJ Day – in gratitude

A post about a Burma veteran written by his grandson and published in 2010.

George Blogs

August 15 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of VJ Day, the day that Japan surrendered, the official end to the Second World War. My Grandad was serving in Burma – now 92 his memories of that time are as vivid today as they were the first time round. My Grandad often says that he went to war as a boy and came back a changed man. He was, and is, a quietly reflective person; he’d admit himself that he’s a worrier, a sensible type; he’ll also readily acknowledge that he has only lasted this long with the support of my Gran, a solid tower of strength for him during and after the war. I can not begin to imagine what he must have been through, what he saw, what he had to live with. I know that my Gran discourages him from discussing the war nowadays as she feels it…

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Fepows

Pacific Paratrooper

F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft

Fepows – Far Eastern POWs

Countless films and books concerned with the Second World War have, through the decades, concentrated on Europe and the Holocaust and the Far East prisoners of war have barely been mentioned.  The official 5 volumes of British history for this war include only 10 pages devoted to the subject, compared to the Australian history with 170 pages.

sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand

Japan’s army conquered the Far East in 1941-42.  Prisoners were taken from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaya, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Ambon, New Britain, Celebes, Guam and the Philippines.  According to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, Japan took more than 50,000 British and Australian troops in Singapore alone; 42,000 Dutch (N.E.I.); 10,000 British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines and then transported to the mainland camps.

The Japanese government made…

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