The time was 7.40 p.m., the date 15 February 1942. The light was fading fast, the Allied forces were encircled, and the bombardment was relentless, as Singapore fell to the Japanese.
Discarding their weapons, the Lancashire Loyals quietly withdrew to their quarters, where they ‘composed themselves as best they could for the silent ordeal of the night, numbed and galled by the bitterness of enforced surrender’. So began three and half years of incarceration at Keijo POW camp in Korea.
This is the previously untold story of the brave Lancastrians who endured, told by Chris Given-Wilson, whose father was one of those captured. It is a story of brutality, starvation and disease, but also one of survival, determination and creativity. Among the many ways the prisoners sought to keep their spirits up were the staging of surprisingly sophisticated shows, complete with Gloria d’Earie, the resident female impersonator; the growing of fresh vegetables to improve their health; and the regular publication of Nor Iron Bars (co-edited by the author’s father), with its satirical portrayals of camp life. Copies of this banned journal were successfully concealed from the guards to be smuggled home, and can be seen at the Lancashire Infantry Museum.
Chris Given-Wilson writes with warmth and humour, to reveal both the best and the worst of human nature. This book should be read by everyone, but perhaps especially all proud Lancastrians.
- Author: Chris Given-Wilson
- ISBN: 978-1-91083-7351
- Binding: paperback
- Pages: 160
- Illustrations: colour, throughout
- Publication date: 16 October 2021