This is the story of the three-year ordeal of the Sandakan prisoners of war - a barely known episode of unimaginable horror. After the fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese conquerors transferred 2700 British and Australian prisoners to a jungle camp some eight miles inland of Sandakan, on the east coast of North Borneo. For decades after the Second World War, the Australian and British governments would refuse to divulge the truth of what happened here, for fear of traumatising the families of the victims and enraging the people. The prisoners were broken, beaten, worked to death, thrown into bamboo cages on the slightest pretext, starved, and subjected to tortures so hideous that none survived the onslaught with their minds intact, and only an incredibly resilient few managed to withstand the pain without yielding to the hated Kempei-tai, the Japanese military police. But this was only the beginning of the nightmare.
In late 1944, Allied aircraft were attacking the coastal towns of Sandakan and Jesselton. To escape the bombardment, the Japanese resolved to abandon the Sandakan prison camp and move 250 miles inland to Ranau, taking the prisoners with them as slave labour, carriers and draught horses. Their journey became known as the Sandakan Death Marches. Of the 2700 prisoners originally sent to Sandakan, only six - all of them Australians - would survive.
This important and harrowing book narrates the full story of Sandakan, as told through the experiences of the participants. Paul Ham has interviewed the families of survivors and the deceased, in Australia, Britain, and Borneo, and consulted thousands of court documents in an effort to piece together exactly what happened to the people who suffered and died in British North Borneo, and to determine who was responsible.
©2012 Paul Ham (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Aussie truckie, on the long haul!
Great story! being an aussie, this book really hit home with only 6 survivers left, out of over 2400 australian & brittish troops.... a death rate of 99.8%!!! their accounts of the japanese barbaric & brutal torture of them, truly saddened me to tears. Every one should learn about what the japanese did to their P.O.W's in world war 2, such a disgrace. my only gripe about this book is that there were too many personal opinions from the author for my liking!
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
With few survivors (6) out of 2,500 odd, Japans ignoring it and both British/Australian government secrecy this story is amazing it ever got to print. Paul Ham has done his job so well I have to put him in the same league as Cornelius Ryan and John Keegan, possibly Richard Holmes as well. Wish I could write as well as Paul Ham let alone research to his depths.
This story isn't going to be as shocking as any other prisoner war story except that possibly everybody dies. The German 6th Army taken at Stalingrad also had great loss. Whether your view is that they deserved it or not, I don't think this story is a clash of cultures but just people being inhuman to others. No reason, bushito be damn, as a human, you don't do this. Animals don't even do this and we are suppose to be better than that.
Robert Meldrum reads this book well. A good book that made me despondent, mad-as-hell and then forgiving, all within the 18+ hours of listening. If I have learned anything it is don't surrender, don't listen to the bull-shit and when you have the chance, escape.
This is an extremely moving book that describes the horrors experienced by Allied Servicemen captured by the Japanese. It is easy to understand why so many Australian ex-servicemen could never make peace with those who tortured and killed so many.
This is a twin to the Bataan Death March, only it's Australia's version of it. I almost think it was worse than Bataan, I could not believe the extent of the losses the Australians experienced. It is a must read for any one. A truly great book.
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