No Mercy From the Japanese.

By John Wyatt & Cecil Lowry

Printed: 2008

Publisher: Pen & Sword Military. Barnsley

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 2

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

By the laws of statistics John Wyatt should not be here today to tell his story. He firmly believes that someone somewhere was looking after him during those four years. Examine the odds stacked against him and his readers will understand why he holds this view. During the conflict in Malaya and Singapore his regiment lost two thirds of its men. More than three hundred patients and staff in the Alexandra Military Hospital were slaughtered by the Japanese – he was one of the few survivors still alive today. Twenty six percent of British soldiers slaving on the Burma Railway died. More than fifty men out of around six hundred died aboard the Asaka Maru and the Hakasan Maru. Many more did not manage to survive the harshest Japanese winter of 1944/45, the coldest in Japan since record began. John’s experiences make for the most compelling and graphic reading. The courage, endurance and resilience of men like him never ceases to amaze.

Review: This account of the dreadful experiences of a FEPOW is helped by references to other works & is not wholly reliant on an elderly man’s memory. This makes it stand out from many memoirs. Understandably, FEPOWs de-personalise what they went through and put a stoic twist on their sufferings. The author here was present at the Alexandra Hospital atrocity and helpfully uses other works to get the event across to the reader. The events of the 500 mile chaotic retreat through Malaya are laid out for us only briefly, but this book is not about the horror of war, it is about the inhuman treatment that the shameful Japanese Imperial Army dished out to POWs. It is interesting how FEPOWs show mercy to the Japanese in their memoirs after receiving none from them. Maybe that’s how these great, ordinary men survived post-war. The author concludes his narrative by saying how lucky he was to survive his captivity in a very personal voice. Nobody can say that they “enjoyed” reading a book like this, but it is a good read.


  Bridge over the River Kwai by Leo Rawlings, a POW who was involved in the line’s construction (sketch dated to 1943).

It depicts four POWs, waist-deep in the water, carrying a large log during the first bridge’s construction.

The Burma Railway, also known as the Siam–Burma Railway, Thai–Burma Railway and similar names, or as the Death Railway, is a 415 km (258 mi) railway between Ban Pong, Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat, Burma (now called Myanmar). It was built from 1940 to 1943 by civilian laborers impressed or recruited by the Japanese and prisoners of war taken by the Japanese, to supply troops and weapons in the Burma campaign of World War II. It completed the rail link between Bangkok, Thailand, and Rangoon, Burma. The name used by the Japanese Government was Tai–Men Rensetsu Tetsudō (泰緬連接鉄道), which means Thailand-Burma-Link-Railway.

Between 180,000 and 250,000 Southeast Asian civilians and over 60,000 Allied prisoners of war were subjected to forced labour during its construction. Around 90,000 civilians died, as did more than 12,000 Allied prisoners. Most of the railway was dismantled shortly after the war. Only the first 130 kilometres (81 mi) of the line in Thailand remained, with trains still running as far north as Nam Tok.

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