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Sweet Kwai Run Softly

by Stephen Alexander

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The notorious Burma-Siam railway left its mark on all prisoners-of-war, but especially those of an impressionable age. Stephen Alexander was 22, a subaltern in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, when Singapore capitulated to the Japanese in February 1942, three weeks after his regiment had disembarked.
He worked first on the 'bridge over the river Kwai', and later in the jungle near the Burmese border. 1943 was the worst year, with the Japanese frantic to join the lines from Bangkok and Moulmein. Even survival tactics learned from old Malayan hands, Australians and Dutch colonial troops were no match for disease, starvation, brutality, and exhaustion. A stiff upper lip helped, and faith of some sort; so did cunning and humour; but the most important and the most unaccountable element was luck. The author's will to live depended on old allegiances (his family, Bristol, Somerset, Cambridge) and on new friends (even including the odd Japanese). Yet, although the deadly nature of this alien corner of the world was unforgettable, so too was its beauty, In 1944 and most of the surviving prisoners back from the jungle and among friendly Thais, work lessened and rations increased. So, too, did feelings of frustration and the need to let off steam.
Repatriation after the fall of the atom bomb presented new challenges as the author and his friends returned - feeling like strangers in their own country - to families, universities and the search for jobs. Slowly, past adversities began to feed future hopes.
Fifty years later, intrigued by the reappearance of a map of Cambridge drawn and lost in Thailand, Stephen Alexander returned to the Kwai with his wife. The sight of the river and of the graves beside it (his batman's among them) proved a revelatory experience. On the Kwai itself the war had left its mark no less deeply - for good and ill - than on the author and his companions



price: $6.09
bound: 296 pages
publisher: Merriotts Press (May 6, 2017)
lang: English
asin: B071L5G6KM
filesize: 248601 KB


















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Sweet Kwai Run Softly

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