Twentieth Century Chivalry
One of our younger editors has suggested that as most of our readers are too young to remember the details of a war fought sixty years ago, and most probably will have the greatest difficulty understanding the horror of the Prisoners of War experiences in the slave labour camps of the Japanese, we should provide some background details. This is not an easy task. The extent of the material available is monumental, and justice to the subject cannot be done in a few pages.
The page to which this is linked tells of Iain MacAulay weighing 56 pounds at the end of his imprisonment. This was not unusual among the survivors, as the photographs taken at the end of the war by the incoming doctors and nurses bear witness, and as prisoner artists drawings testify. Two of these drawings are shown here.
The prisoner above has been kept crouched in a windowless metal kennel for several months. He cannot walk. He cannot see. The prisoner on the right kneels on triangular logs that cut into his legbones. He is expected to maintain this position all day. If he falls or drops the stone he will be clubbed senseless, perhaps killed.
Many harrowing books have been written by those who survived, and to choose one alone to represent them is difficult. However, there is one which must be classified as essential reading, for it is based on the personal papers of a prisoner who, because he spoke Japanese, became a war crimes investigator. It describes his experiences as a prisoner, his investigations among the torturers and murderers, and the great cover-up orchestrated by the American government when the cooperation of Japan in the war against communism was deemed more urgent than the prosecution of war criminals.
This book is Betrayal in High Places by James MacKay, published by Tasman Archives (NZ), ISBN 0 473 03818 8. Amazon customers have awarded it five stars, but it is currently out of stock there, and out of print.
Extract from Betrayal in High Places
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