Accounts of Japanese brutality towards Allied prisoners of war are quite well known, but the fate of the tens of thousand of Allied women and children who fell into their hands is not so familiar (at least since memories of the TV drama Tenko have faded). This harrowing account should go some way towards redressing that balance.
Felton covers a wide geographical range, including accounts from the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, Malaya and Singapore, Hong Kong and the Japanese home islands. The main victims of the Japanese were the British and Australians caught up in the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore, the Dutch captured after the fall of the Dutch East Indies and the Americans captured on the Philippines, as well as a small number of foreign nationals resident in Japan at the start of the war.
Much of the emphasis of the book is on the atrocities committed during the Japanese conquests in 1942 by the advancing front line troops, somewhat countering the often-expressed view that many Japanese atrocities of the war were committed by frustrated lower quality second line troops.
This is an understandably bleak book, with little to raise the spirits. The notable exception to this is the chapter on the Paradise Road 'voice orchestra', itself the subject of a feature film, but even this was abandoned late in 1944 while the founder of the orchestra died during a move between camps in 1945. Nevertheless this is an important piece of work looking at an aspect of the Second World War that should not be forgotten.
1 - Black Christmas
2 - The Second Best Camp
3 - A Band of Angles
4 - Escape from Singapore
5 - Bloodbath at the Beach
6 - New Britain
7 - Comfort Women
8 - Barded Wire Horizon
9 - Paradise Road
10 - Released from Bondage
11 - Debt of Honour
Appendix A - Chronology of the Asia-Pacific War
Author: Mark Felton
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military