Posted 20 hours ago

The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East

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It is a real, unfiltered account of the sufferings faced during the second world war in the far east. After a brief stint at a hospital camp to recover from a bout of cholera that nearly killed him, he was placed on one of the infamous Hellships, locked in the cargo hold for days before his ship (not marked as a prisoner transport in violation of the Geneva Convention) was mistaken for an oil transport and sunk by an American submarine.

Having lived within himself for so long, he could not embrace the old kindly world and spent his first months of freedom endlessly pacing the city streets, alone and fearful. Marching into captivity in the notorious Changi prison, the men of the Gordons were confronted with "a thicket of severed Chinese heads speared on poles on both sides of the road. They came to think of themselves as the forgotten army - the men who endured years of suffering in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps during World War II.He not only survived working on the notorious Bridge on the River Kwai , but he was subsequently taken on one of the Japanese 'hellships' which was torpedoed. Unwilling to risk the massacre of civilians, British commanders flew the white flag and defeat was followed by humiliation. I had a hard time deatling with all the smiles, but then the aftermath was properly, touchingly and heart-wrenchingly described too.

This is the extraordinary story of a young man, conscripted at nineteen and whose father was a Somme Veteran, who survived not just one, but three very close separate encounters with death - encounters which killed nearly all his comrades. He had to perform physical therapy to regain movement and then his horror when he regained mobility he was sent back to the labor camp. It was ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, and slowly we all took up the song and joined in, singing a very rude version of the hit – complete with altered lyrics crudely deriding our Japanese captors.He not only survived 750 days in the jungle working as a slave on the notorious death railway and the bridge on the river Kwai but he was also taken prisoner on one of the Japanese Hell ships which was torpedoed resulting in nearly everyone on board, but Urquhart liked to tell the tale and his book is a remarkable telling of his journey. Alistair Urquhart could be anyone's grandfather and has recorded a very moving account of his internment including moments of bravery and cowardice.

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