The best books on prisoners of war held by the Japanese during WW2 - their lives and stories

Cecil Lowry Author Of Frank Pantridge MC: Japanese Prisoner of War and Inventor of the Portable Defibrillator
By Cecil Lowry

Who am I?

My father was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February 1942. He spent three and a half years slaving on the Thai Burma railway. During my early years growing up, my father rarely talked about his experiences, and it wasn't until after he died in 1990 that I became interested in what he went through as a prisoner of war. Since then, I've spent my time researching the Japanese prisoner of war experiences and have read countless books on the subject. I myself have published four books and I consider myself one of the leading experts on the Japanese prisoner of war experience.


I wrote...

Frank Pantridge MC: Japanese Prisoner of War and Inventor of the Portable Defibrillator

By Cecil Lowry,

Book cover of Frank Pantridge MC: Japanese Prisoner of War and Inventor of the Portable Defibrillator

What is my book about?

This book tells the life story of Doctor Frank Pantridge, the inventor of the portable defibrillator. When Pantridge returned from the war he began to specialise in diseases of the heart and particularly heart fibrillation. He reasoned that if a person had a heart attack, ventricular defibrillation should be applied where it occurred as many people were dying before reaching the hospital.

He produced the world's first portable defibrillator in Belfast in 1965, initially operating from a specially equipped ambulance. American President Lyndon B Johnston's life was saved by a Pantridge defibrillator in 1972 when he had a heart attack. This biography tells the story of a man whose invention has saved countless lives over the last half-century.

The books I picked & why

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Captive Memories: Far East Prisoners of War

By Meg Parkes, Geoff Gill,

Book cover of Captive Memories: Far East Prisoners of War

Why this book?

This book tells the story of the 130,000 men who were captives of the Japanese during World War Two. Food and equipment were minimal or non-existent, men died daily, many in agony from which there was no relief and yet in the midst of such horrors the human spirit steadfastly refused to be broken. Captives helped each other, intense bonds were formed, and selfless sacrifices made. Freedom for those who made it home after the war ended meant many things, home and family comfort of course, but also an adjustment for the loss of friendships and a difficult road to recovery for some.

The authors talked to many of these men and this is their story.


Japan at War 1931-45: As the Cherry Blossom Falls

By David McCormack,

Book cover of Japan at War 1931-45: As the Cherry Blossom Falls

Why this book?

This book follows the course of the Empire of the Sun's ultimately unequal struggle against the great Allied powers. It provides the reader with piercing strategic and political insights which may debunk many of the enduring myths which encompass Japan's apocalyptic drive for hegemony in South East Asia. Why did Japan invade China? Was war with America and the British Empire inevitable? Why was the Japanese mobile fleet defeated so decisively at Midway. Why did the Japanese continue fighting with defeat was inevitable? Was its Emperor merely a puppet of the militarists? Why did the Japanese people acquiesce in the occupation of their homeland? 

This book tells the story.


Echoes of Captivity 2020: In 1945, Far East Prisoners of War returned to their families. But their war was not over ....

By Louise Cordingly,

Book cover of Echoes of Captivity 2020: In 1945, Far East Prisoners of War returned to their families. But their war was not over ....

Why this book?

In 1941/2 the Japanese took more than 100,000 allied prisoners of war in the Far East. These prisoners were used as slave labour on the death railway and across the region. More than 1/4 of all prisoners died from starvation, overwork, torture, or tropical disease. These harrowing experiences in captivity have been chronicled in detail, but the story of what happened after they returned home has rarely been told. For many the war did not end in 1945 and for decades to come, former prisoners had nightmares and flashbacks. Their wives and families struggled to cope with damaged men who couldn't find the words to talk about their experiences. The echoes of captivity carried on right to the end of the survivors' lives and continue today in the lives of their children.


The Sacrifice of Singapore: Churchill's Biggest Blunder

By Michael Arnold,

Book cover of The Sacrifice of Singapore: Churchill's Biggest Blunder

Why this book?

The fate of Singapore was sealed long before the Japanese attack on Malaya in December 1941. The blame lay with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who refused to listen to warnings from military advisers to reinforce defences in Singapore and Malaya. Her was convinced the Japanese would never dare to attack a white power. Obsessed with beating Rommel, Churchill poured into the Middle East massive resources that should have gone to the Far East. However, when inevitably Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942, Churchill attempted to deflect criticism by accusing the defenders of spineless capitulation.


Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero

By Damien Lewis,

Book cover of Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero

Why this book?

Judy was a beautiful liver and white English pointer, and the only official animal POW of World War 2 truly was a dog in a million. Whether she was dragging men to safety from the wreckage of a torpedoed chip or scavenging food for the starving inmates of a hellish Japanese prisoner of war camp, her unbreakable spirit brought inspiration and hope to men living through the 20th century's darkest days during their captivity. Judy's uncanny ability to sense danger matched with her quick thinking and impossible daring saved countless lives. She was a close companion to those who became like a family to her, sharing in both the tragedies and joys they faced. Her incredible story based here on the testimonies of the last few veterans who knew her is one of the most heartwarming and inspiring tales you will ever read.


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