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The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai Paperback – 2 May 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; New Ed edition (2 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074349573X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743495738
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Inside Flap

‘I have never ceased to object to the way in which the cinematic legend has overtaken and obscured the facts of what really happened on the Burma–Siam railway . . .’ – thus wrote former prisoner of war John Sharp about the David Lean epic Bridge on the River Kwai. Sharp and many of his former comrades particularly objected to the character of Colonel Nicholson, as played by Alec Guinness, seeing it as a slur on the integrity of the real colonel behind the bridge, Philip Toosey – the subject of this outstanding biography.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Toosey had a career with Barings Bank, a young family and a commission with the Territorial Army. It was at Dunkirk that his charisma and fortitude were first noted, and in 1941 he was given command of an artillery regiment. Sent to fight in the Far East he and his men soon found themselves embroiled in the battle for Singapore, and were taken prisoner after the island’s fall in February 1942.

The Japanese, scornful of the Allied forces for surrendering, determined to make full use of the new workforce at their disposal. Toosey was sent to Thailand to command the ‘bridge camp’ at Tamarkan, where he was ordered to supervise the construction of two railway bridges over the river Khwae Mae Khlong. Starvation rations and harsh working conditions up-jungle meant that dysentery and cholera struck, and Tamarkan became a hospital camp. A quarter of the 60,000 prisoners working on the Thailand–Burma railway would perish, and it gained the nickname ‘Death Railway’. Toosey, as camp commander, was determined to instil hygiene and discipline, giving his men back their self-respect and making himself a buffer for the cruel excesses of the guards.

It would be another three and a half years before he returned home. Even after the war he found he was unable to stop looking after the men to whom he had become an inspiration, and his services to the Far Eastern POWs continued until his death in 1975.

Written by Toosey’s granddaughter, The Colonel of Tamarkan draws on both private archives and many original interviews with Second World War POWs from the Asian theatre to create a riveting blend of biography and history. It is a remarkable portrait of a forgotten British hero. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Colonel of Tamarkan:

‘This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the Second World War. It is an important work about a truly great and noble man. The author – Julie Summers – is to be commended for her in-depth research and detailed narrative.’
Robert von Maier, Pacific War Study Group --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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