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on 29 December 2013
How anybody survived the appalling conditions and the barbaric treatment by the Japanese and Korean guards in the labour camps described in this book is almost beyond comprehension. In an ironic kind of way, Reg's difficult childhood (not that untypical of a working class lad in the 1920s and 1930s), summed up by him early in the book with one simple word - "hunger" - prepared him at least in some way for the horrors that followed his capture in the Far East.

Ultimately, along with a huge slice of Lady Luck, it was Reg's indomitable spirit and his ingenuity that earmarked him as a survivor, when so many of his friends and colleagues didn't make it.

This book is not only an excellent historical account of his time in captivity, but it is superbly written to convey all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that a human being experiences when pushed to and beyond the limits of their physical and psychological capacity.

The very best and the very worst of the human condition are on display in this book - and it will move you to tears. Reg Twigg was an amazing man amongst many. Sadly they didn't all come home.
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on 18 April 2017
Amazing, harrowing experiences of treatment by the Japanese soldiers during the 2nd world war in the building of the Burma Thailand death railways. The shear will to survive by Reg Twigg is a trully remarkable one during a time when so many thousands (13000) unfortunately perished in horrific circumstances.
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Reg Twigg's life story is indeed incredible. His father, Sid, was in the Leicester Regiment returning from the Great War in 1919, 'the hell where youth and laughter go'. Reg had never seen him. He had noticed that few children had dads in those early years. He had become hardened and streetwise, excelling as a footballer, cyclist and distance runner. He describes his childhood in a single word - hunger. He learned that 'if you're faced with an ongoing problem, find a way round it'. Aged 26, 5'4" tall, wiry, strong and fit, Reg was conscripted in 1940 to the Leicesters and out of Britain for the first time.

A stormy and colourful journey on a trooper ship ended in Penang and then on to Singapore. Unbeknown to the regiment, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour, taken Hong Kong and Siam (Thailand) and the Leicesters were totally unprepared for the assault on Singapore. Twigg's comments on the officers and circumstances surrounding this make fascinating reading with incompetence bordering on the farcical. From January,1942 until August,1945, Twigg was a prisoner of the Japanese. He had made his mind up he was 'going to survive; if needs be on his own'.

Transported from one prison camp to another, Twigg and fellow captives were forced to build a railway (Thailand-Burma) through thick and hazardous jungle, hacking bamboo as hard as iron and digging unyielding clay soil, barefooted and wearing little more than a loin cloth. The atrocities and the systematic brutality of the guards, both Japanese and Korean, were barbaric and are vividly described. Deprivation of possessions came with malnutrition (walking skeletons on a diet of pap rice; 'The Nippon Slimming Club'), dysentery, cholera, malaria, beriberi, pus-filled sores and mental illness (madness). Rats, snakes, spiders and scorpions were added hazards. Reg Twigg had an unshakable self-belief that he would survive and that the japs would be beaten. Eating lizards, snakes, the odd fish, stealing from the camp cookhouse (a death sentence if caught), and even a cow's bladder supplemented his rice. The Geneva convention was a joke, replaced by bushido, the way of the warrior, the cult of the Samurai. British officers were rarely seen on the track work (irksome for Reg) but he respected the medical officers who had saved his life. There was little they could do, generally, in 'God's Waiting Room'.

Twigg's determination and survival instinct made him look at the jungle as a friend; the River Kwai he 'lived alongside it, built bridges across it, bathed in it, peed in it, relaxed in it, cooked our pap rice with it and buried the dead alongside it'. In the Malaysian campaign the Japanese lost less than 10,000 men, 'we' lost 138,000. Some 13,000 British, Australian and Dutch soldiers and as many as 80,000 Malay, Tamil and Chinese coolies died. The railway killed them all. Twigg's resilience, sheer guts and guile saw him through. His discharge papers stated he 'Ceased to fulfil army physical requirements'. He returned to Leicester after liberation. He died just before his 100th birthday. A remarkable man's account of Japanese prisoner of war life. Heartfelt and engaging. Illustrated and with an epilogue of Twigg's later life and reflections of POW experiences, this is an enlightening and absorbing read of war atrocities, hardship, death and extraordinary survival.
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on 19 March 2017
As a young reader the book started off a bit slow going over his early day family roots but soon got me engrossed once it delved into him joining the Leicesters and eventually taking us to where he ended up.

I've come away from reading this book with the utmost respect not only for Reg, but every other poor soldier who was unfortunate enough to end up under japanese arrest. It's a really good read which I looked forward to picking up every night band I shall be looking for another novel on this subject!
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on 15 March 2017
I downloaded the talking book on audible and enjoyed it so much I bought two copies ,one hardback and a paperback to give for presents.I actually grew up in Leicester not far from where Reg Twigg came from,we may have even passed by in the street.although his generation had a much tougher time than ours.we should give thanks to him and his mates who gave their lives,to save the world from evil and cruelty.we should never forget these despicable crimes ,and listen to and read about men like Reg.
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on 22 September 2014
Absolutely great book couldn't put it down once I started it. I'd never read anything about this area of WW2 usually stick to books about the war in Europe but after reading about the POW in Europe wanted to find out more abou those further afield, and I was not disappointed. A really thought provoking book about a man who survived the terrors of being a POW on the river Kwai and went on to build a life afterwards, when you have finished this book you will want to find out more and all you will have is admiration for the men who became POW's and fought to survive against the odds.
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on 14 July 2017
this was a very good read and really brought home what the Japanese POW's went through. highly recommended and well written
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on 27 April 2017
Great book , just wish more people would understand what men , women and children went through in WW2.
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on 23 May 2017
This was one of, if not thee best written, heart felt, heroic, amazing book I have ever read. Truly brilliant!!!
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on 13 May 2017
great read, scary to read what other "humans" are capable of............
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