TWO NEW CASEMATE BOOKS VIVIDLY PRESENT THEIR EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNTS

Being there . . . . side by side with the unfortunates who for 71 days had to endure fear, panic,
defeat, surrender, and capture by General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s elite ground forces. Then, as
their echoes of “BANZI FOR VICTORY” faded over the next three years, join the dwindling
survivors in the Sumatra and Singapore concentration camps sing, “May the Day of Freedom
Dawn”, while facing the daily prospects of horrific torture or starving death while the Japanese
intensify their internment . . . . .

DESPITE BRAVE AND HEROIC ALLIED RESISTANCE, JAPANESE “TIGERS” EASILY OVERRAN THE
DUTCH EAST INDIES IN THREE MONTHS – SPECIFICALLY, MALAYA AND SINGAPORE IN 79 DAYS.
THEN, FACING IMPOSSIBLE ODDS, FEW SURVIVED CAPTURE, TORTURE, AND STARVATION
TWO NEW CASEMATE BOOKS VIVIDLY PRESENT THEIR EYE-WITNESS
ACCOUNTS
Revived and highly recommended by Don DeNevi
In short, two absolute must-reads for those who must know what it was like for civilians and
the military to be captured and made prisoners of war in hot and steaming Malaya are,
“WOMEN INTERNED IN WORLD WAR TWO SUMATRA – Faith, Hope and Survival”, by Barbara
Coombes. Pen & Sword HISTORY, distributed by Casemate Publishers: 2022, 244 pages, hc,
$42.95. Visit: www.penandswordbooks.com, or, E-mail, Uspen-
[email protected]
“CAPTURED AT SINGAPORE – A Diary of a Far East Prisoner of War”, by Jill Robertson & Jan
Slimming, Foreword by Terry Waite. Pen & Sword MILITARY, distributed by Casemate
Publishers: 2022, 276 pages, hc, $42.95. Visit: www.penandswordbooks.com, or, E-mail, Uspen-
[email protected]
No one questions that the shocking and insufferable defeats of the British Army in Sumatra (37
days after Pearl Harbor, surrender on Feb. 14 th ) and Singapore `(38 days, on Feb. 15) were
Great Britain’s gravest war humiliations. After all, the Japanese planned a minimum six-
months of campaigns to occupy the oil-rich islands of the Dutch East Indies. Surprised by their
stunning victories after only two, the officers wound-up giggling. Captured Allied civilians
wound up weeping over the uncertainty that faced them. For the Allied military, being
embarrassed was beyond embarrassment.
Thousands of women and children were among those who struggled to leave Singapore just
before the capitulation. Their hope for survival was to reach any Allied-held-island, preferably
Australia or New Zealand. For many on their way to what they believed was safety, the hope
was unrealized. Countless drowned when their ships were bombed. Those who survived the
Japanese massacre of the ships soon be became the “guests” of the feared enemy, and, of
those, most would not live to see Japan defeated. This fabulous read deals with two very

different women fleeing on those last ships and subsequently taken prisoners and interned on
Sumatra. Thus, Margaret Dryburgh, a missionary and teacher, and Shelagh Brown, a secretary
at the Singapore Naval Base became fast friends. Their paths crossed briefly prior to the tragic
events of early 1942, then again in the internment camp. Margaret composed and sang the
legendary POW song “The Captives Hymn” at all the camp services. Today, it is still sung at
services the world over. Music and faith were fundamental to both Margaret and Shelagh lives,
lifting the spirits who heard them on those dark and difficult days when death hovered overall,
especially if the whim of the camp commander came into play. They produced a “Vocal
Orchestra” using women’s voices in places of instruments. The effect riveted all including the
Japanese guards, and many of the officers, if they dared admit it. No one had ever heard of
such soft and beautiful music, an orchestra of fellow prisoner voices “. . .freeing them to float
home to their families”, as one nurse put it.
Readers will certainly pause to wipe away a tear or two since this extraordinary story is true.
And no one can tell it better than Barbara Coombes, already a legend among young women,
and men, at both at Chichester College of Further Education and London Metropolitan
University, her passion being Women’s History. Barbara discovered the story, has been writing
about it, and continues to research for publication the interments of women in the Far East.
Hopefully, she and Pen & Sword, realized the truly heartfelt gift they have given serious
scholars and researchers, and us ordinary buffs who love such heroic women as Margaret and
Shelagh, and, if I might add, Barbara herself.
Now, reader, be sure and follow Barbara’s wonderful story with yet another from Pen & Sword,
“Captured at Singapore – A Diary of a Far East Prisoner of War”. In 1940, Londoner Stanley
Moore became Driver T/170638 and trained for desert warfare along many others in the British
Army’s 18 th Division. But in an official change of plans and destination, he and his fellow
servicemen became “sacrificial lambs” on a continent much farther from home.
After months at sea, and several unexpected ports of call, Stan’s convoy was redirected to the
other side of the world as the Japanese rampaged across Manchuria, Hong Kong and other
parts of Asia. The British Government never believed Japan had the moxie to attack their
Prize territory and so left Singapore to fight for itself with a handful of troops and outdated
equipment. But after Pearl Harbor, the undertrained and underequipped 18 th Division was
redirected to fight the Japanese. Using extensive research and personal documents, the
authors’ account via their father’s small, faded diary and his 1990 tape recording made in 1990
Tells of dad’s journey and arrival in Keppel Harbor under shell fire, the terrible 17-day battle to
defend the island, the Japanese Admonition and the harrowing forced labor conditions after
capitulation.
Only a small percentage of the 85,000 British troops returned after the war. Captivity and years
of trauma ultimately stole years of the young soldiers’ lives, which they were later ordered to
forget by the British government. The aim of this work is to provide information for future
generations to understand how ordinary men died under monstrous conditions of war, and
how the lucky survived.

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.