On this day, we honor the brave men and women who were prisoners of war or are still missing in action.
We have had the privilege of sharing the recollections and memoirs of servicemen who have faced imprisonment, capture, and escape. It is their stories that need to be shared and known.
Pen and Sword’s Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home tells the story of Barry Custance Baker during his 1000 days of internment in a labor camp building the Burma Railway.
After no contact with his wife during his imprisonment, Barry’s final letter to her before he heads home shares a glimpse into the horrifying conditions that he faced:
My own worst time was July 43 when I was sent down to the base camp from our up country railway workers camp with dysentery and chronic malaria. We had no drugs at all and my weight fell to 5st 13lbs (83lbs). It is about 9st (126lbs) now and I have rather a lean tough look and very brown. The journalists who have met us are very disappointed as we look too fit to bear out the stories of starvation and ill-treatment which filtered out from the Thai Railway Camps. They complain that there are no living skeletons or beriberi cases to write about. The graves along the railway, about fifteen thousand allied, and many times that of Tamil coolies, will show what happened to our sick. We are the survivors.
Barry’s story is just one of thousands. Some faced worse conditions and some never had the chance to come home.
To read more stories about the brave who suffered capture, take a look at some of our related titles below: