POW on the Sumatra Railway

Christine Bridges

This is Geoff's story of his captivity, release, and subsequent efforts in achieving his aim.
Date Published :
August 2022
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
32 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781399015257
Pages : 208
Dimensions : 9.1 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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John Geoffrey Lee (always known as Geoff) joined the RAF on his 20th birthday in June 1941. He left Liverpool on a troop ship in December 1941, with no idea where he was going. He eventually arrived in Java, where he was captured by the Japanese, along with many others. During his time in captivity, he survived several camps in Java, Ambon and Singapore and three hell ship journeys. After being washed ashore in Sumatra, (the ferry he was being transported on blew up), he was then recaptured and suffered sheer hell as a slave on the Sumatra Railway. Enduring bouts of malaria, beri beri, tropical ulcers and a starvation diet was bad enough, but this was exacerbated by the searing heat and extreme cruelty meted out to the prisoners by the Japanese and Korean guards. Geoff miraculously survived, weighing just 6 stone when he arrived back in Liverpool in December 1945.

After his release he found he had difficulty in convincing people where he had been as no one had heard of the “Sumatra Railway”, only the other one, thousands of miles away in Burma. Letters to newspapers were returned as ‘Just another Burma Railway story’.

The Ministry of Defence, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and The Imperial War Museum had no records of POW’s building a railway in Sumatra.

So began Geoff’s journey, his aim… to prove to the establishment what he already knew to be true. This is Geoff's story of his captivity, release, and subsequent efforts in achieving his aim.

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