Escape to Pagan

The True Story of One Family’s Fight to Survive in World War II Occupied Asia

Brian Devereux

Date Published :
May 2016
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781612003733
Pages : 320
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
In stock


A gripping true story of survival set in Hong Kong and Burma, as one family struggles against overwhelming odds in World War Two. Divided by war, in order to see each other again they must overcome terrible danger. The beautiful landscape of Burma and the tragedy of war are evocatively portrayed in this haunting and moving book.


Hong Kong. Leading an attack on Golden Hill, Jack Devereux of the Royal Scots is shot through the head. A Japanese officer attempts to behead him, in order to blood his samurai sword; waking momentarily, he kills his would-be executioner. His head swarming with maggots, he survives capture as the Japanese are both impressed and fascinated by his wounds. Alive, albeit in a dangerously precarious physical state he then goes on to experience and escape the horrific and tragic incident of the sinking of the Lisbon Maru, in which hundreds of POWs drown, the sharks of the South China Sea, the mines of Nagasaki and the atom bomb.


Burma. Jack's wife Kate Devereux, her infant son (the author) and mother Harriet desperately try to avoid the unstoppable advance of the Japanese; they flee their home, taking only what they can carry and walk the jungles foraging for food while avoiding predators, snakes and armed bandits (dacoits). Terrified Kate's marriage certificate will be discovered by the Japanese, they adopt the guise of the Mons Burmese tribe. The once prosperous family becomes destitute and starving. Their chance of survival was slim; multitudes of people like the Devereux's fleeing the Japanese died of exposure and starvation, were shot by dacoits or killed in bombing raids. They are kept alive by the author's incredible grandmother, a strong-willed resourceful woman with a proud bearing, able to speak fluent Japanese but also to pass herself off as native Burmese. Their destination is the deserted and mystic city of Pagan. The beautiful but deadly landscape of Burma is the setting for their adventure-filled story.

About The Author

Brian Devereux was born in Burma in 1940 and the early part of his life is described in this book. He worked freelance for twenty five years in the film industry, and as a stuntman; once doubling for Michael Caine, performing all the stunts including the ‘deadfall’ in the film of the same name. He also owned a country house hotel.


Foreword by Kim von Heintze
Map of Burma

Chapter 1 - The Temple Bells of Pagan
Chapter 2 - Golden Hill
Chapter 3 - The Telegram
Chapter 4 - The Perfumed Harbour
Chapter 5 - The Train Station
Chapter 6 - The Lotus Eaters
Chapter 7 - An Evil Spirit
Chapter 8 - The Attack
Chapter 9 - Wild Dogs in the Moonlight
Chapter 10 - Sham Shui Po POW Camp
Chapter 11 - A Ghost Town
Chapter 12 - The Lisbon Maru
Chapter 13 - The Toddy Drinkers
Chapter 14 - The Grouper's Second War Patrol
Chapter 15 - Caught by Surprise
Chapter 16 - The Lisbon Maru is Attacked
Chapter 17 - Mango Showers
Chapter 18 - Pongyis
Chapter 19 - The Lisbon Maru Sinks
Chapter 20 - Journey to Tada u
Chapter 21 - The Cherry Blossom Islands
Chapter 22 - Typhoid and Cholera
Chapter 23 - The Lost Japanese Patrol
Chapter 24 - Froggy Comes a-Courting
Chapter 25 - Winter's Bite
Chapter 26 - Liberation
Chapter 27 - Bed Bugs
Chapter 28 - The RSM Returns



"The Devereux saga is tremendously gripping and gory. It serves as a reminder that, in war, victims often fail to die cleanly and continue in a grossly agonized state, maggots and all. Escape to Pagan is also a story of hope. When he feels a tremor that he discovers was caused by the A-bomb, Jack has the sense to stay underground in his last prison, a Nagasaki mine. Liberation follows. Then, the Devereux family reunites, sort of. Naturally, the sensational, true-life tale that raises the question of why anyone bothers with novels has one more twist. Thrilling."


Gripping true story of survival ...the beautiful landscape of Burma and the tragedy of warfare are evocatively portrayed in this haunting and moving book. "

- Telegraph UK 5/23/16, May 2016

"Beautiful, battle-scarred and deadly landscapes ranging from Burma to Japan are the backdrop for the Devereux family's trials and tribulations. This riveting book reads more like a work of fiction than an incredible but true story"

- Toy Soldier and Model Figure Magazine, October 2016

More from this publisher