1,000 Days on the River Kwai The Secret Diary of a British Camp Commandant by H C Owtram
9781473897809 Pen and Sword Military
Memoirs by former prisoners of war of the Japanese invariably make for moving reading but Colonel Owtrams account of his years of captivity has a special significance. After being captured in Singapore and transported to the infamous Burma railway he was appointed the British Camp Commandant at Chungkai, one of the largest POW camps. Many ex-prisoners testified to the mental and physical courage that he showed protecting POWs from the worst excesses of their captors.
Of course his account does not admit to this but what is clear is that in addition to the deprivation and hardship suffered by all POWs, the author bore heavy responsibility for those under his charge and the daily trauma of dealing with the unpredictable Japanese. It is not only the prisoners who suffered but their families at home. The postscript written by the authors daughters vividly demonstrates the agonies of doubt and worry that loved ones went through and the effect of the experience on all.