The Burma Railway and PTSD
A Family Memoir
Imprint: Pen and Sword Military
224 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in, 50 mono illustrations
- October 2023
Jack was not a man who would have sought out help, especially concerning how he felt inside. Today, we comfortably talk about mental health and, in Jack’s case, PTSD. Following recent conflicts across the world, the topic of mental suffering has been thrown wide open. It has become part of our everyday language and is viewed with compassion. There is no shame in any type of mental health issue. However, June admitted that thirty years ago she would have been nervous to put her story down on paper. We are now acutely aware of what those unfortunate returning prisoners of war were suffering back in 1945. There is no shame to call out what it was – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This was a psychological trauma gained in horrific circumstances. Invisible injuries that became imprinted on minds.
The military and government put the traumatized returning prisoners of war under immense pressure not to speak of their experiences in captivity. Sadly, many of them took the instruction seriously and never discussed it with their families or friends. The message that had been conveyed was that they were nothing more than an embarrassing inconvenience. Jack recalled how they were told Britain was over the war and that people were moving on with their lives. No one would be interested in their tales of horror and, indeed, they may not even have believed them. Jack told us they were given leaflets concerning the matter on board their repatriation ships as they sailed homewards. Those returning POWs had already been dubbed The Forgotten Army, and then they were told to just disappear into society without recognition.