Title: Aussie Soldier – Prisoners of War
Author: Denny Neave with Craig Smith
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Date: 2009
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 316 pages
Comments: The second book in the Aussie Soldier series, Aussie Soldier: Prisoners of War, by Denny Neave and Craig Smith, details the lives of the men and women who found themselves on the wrong side of the wire.
This collection of heartfelt stories and anecdotes from Australian POWs will take you on their very personal journeys. Surviving as a prisoner of war required as much strength of character as any hard fought battle. Some lived to tell their tales about extreme suffering, mateship and hardship and many would carry with them forever the memories of those who died.
Almost 35,000 Australian service personnel were taken prisoner during the Boer War, World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean War. As POWs are relatively few in number, their stories often take a back seat when it comes to tales about battles and conflict situations.
Like most soldiers, former prisoners do not like reliving the horrors of war and their time in captivity. Aussie Soldier: Prisoners of War is a collection of the stories of our Australian POW’s. Interviews, questionnaires, written records, images and letters provide an insight into captivity and the joy and fears that came with their release.
Denny Neave believes, “The story of Australian POWs needs to be told again and again by as many voices as possible. These brave people are an integral part of our identity as Australians. We are privileged to be able to share this collection of reminiscences as well as the images that should be treasured as part of our rich military history.”
For many POWs their struggles would not end with their long hoped for return to Australia and their families. For some the long term effect on health both physical and mental, would affect them and their families for years to come.
“Many personalities have changed and unpredictable behaviour is common. Most of us only discuss the funny or humorous side of our captivity. The bond between us survivors is so strong that many marriage partnerships have broken up, I believe, because the partner considered she was second in line to the POW bond.” Milton “Snow” Fairclough, Java, 1942
“My experience as a POW definitely changed my outlook on life. It made me aware how precious life was, and how easily lost. I saw thousands of men’s lives treated as rubbish by the Japanese. I survived the cholera outbreaks in Burma where you might say goodnight to the man lying next to you and find him dead beside you in the morning. I have valued each day since coming home. I know how lucky I am to have made it.” Private John “Jack” Thorpe, 105 Transport Platoon, Burma
These vivid and compelling stories highlight the contradictions of war: the compassion and generosity on the one hand and the cruelty, hate and indifference on the other.