just a young man working for a railway company in Stafford when World War
Two broke out. Like many others of his age he volunteered to join the army as soon as he
could. Little did he realise what an awful experience was
to befall him.
It was Roy's bad luck to arrive in Singapore just before the ignominious surrender to the Japanese. He was one of many thousands taken to work on the 'Death Railway' from Bangkok in Thailand (known as Siam then) to Moulmein in Burma, including the much publicised 'Kwai' bridge.
The forced labour, malnutrition and disease, the suffering, torture and death inflicted at the hands of incredibly cruel captors is all described accurately and in surprisingly matter-of-fact language by Roy. However, beneath that there is a tale of anguish: while he had the strength, luck and guile to survive, many of Roy's friends never made it home.
If you are of later generations who never lived through such a time, or even if you do remember this black episode in human history, The Forgotten Army is a humbling book to read: it makes economic recession and local politics seem so utterly trivial by comparison.
Illustrated with many photographs, both comtemporary and new, plus a map of the Hell Camps, and written in a clear readable style, this is an absorbing, authoritative, but at times very grim read. Highly recommended.
* In late in February of 2012 we heard the very sad news of Roy's death. A strong, active man in early life, his last years were not so happy: his wife died, he lost his sight and with that a hobby he very much enjoyed: photography. He leaves a daughter and grandchildren; a good man leaves us. Rest in peace Roy.