Research & Articles by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired), JP
Research, Interviews and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year.
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Book Reviews
Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP

To Hellfire, Purgatory And Back by Ian Saggers
The book is most unusual in that it has been written by lan Saggers recounting his father's experiences during the Second World War. Ian's father was Major A.E.Saggers a militia officer who became Commanding Officer "A" Company 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion and Special Reserve Battalion A.I.F. Ian wrote the book with the assistance of his father's secret war diaries, stories that his father recounted to him and a significant number of interviews with former colleagues of his father. The book deals with the fall of Singapore, the capitulation, experiences on the Burma-Thailand Railway and the return to Changi. I found the detail in the book to be excellent and was most impressed with it. I know others who have also read it and are of the same opinion. The book can be purchased from Ian Saggers, 9 Allenby Road, Dalkeith Western Australia 6009.The cost is $20, which includes postage within Australia.

A Yarn Or Two By Don Lee
This book started out to be a historical account of the wool-buying part in the wool industry. However, I believe this changed when John Harper Nelson persuaded Don to include some material from his life in the A.I.F, which included three and one half years as a POW and time on the Burma Thailand Railway. In the event, of 10 chapters in the book, six deal with his wartime experiences. Pre war Don was a member of the militia. He enlisted in the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion and was soon commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was one of many who did the round Australia trip (Darwin, Pt Moresby, Sydney to Fremantle) before sailing to Singapore. There are many easy to read accounts of experiences on the Railway. Don was at Konyu cutting (Hellfire Pass) and at Konkoita (where the railway joined). His book can be purchased by writing to Don Lee," Unit 199 / 118-120 Monash Avenue, Nedlands Western Australia 6009. The price is $25 including postage within Australia.

All In My Stride by Richard Harris
This is the story of another 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion member. A comprehensive review has been done by Hal Colebatch. I will merely make an extract from Hal's review. (The foreword of this book is provided by Herb Elliott). John Gilmour and his friends joined the militia and when the Second World War broke out he joined the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, fated to be captured at the fall of Singapore. --Of 976 men in the battalion, 400 were killed in action or died in Japanese hands. They had only a week's fighting, but enough to make the machine-gunners especially hated by the Japanese. Gilmour spent 15 months in Changi, and was then sent by sea, in an old ship under submarine attack, to work as a slave-Iabourer in Japan. By this time he was almost blind from malnutrition. He had seen many of his mates die from starvation and disease or tortured to death. --If Gilmour's survival in the war is the first part of this book, and his athletic achievements the second, it is that great spirit that is the third part of it, uniting the rest of the story. At the age of over 80 he is still breaking International records. The book can be purchased from John Gilmour, 5 Rae Place, Leeming, Western Australia 6149. The price is $24 including postage within Australia.

Working On The Thai-Burma Railway Of Death And More Memories Of Working On The Thai-Burma Railway Of Death by Fred Ransome Smith
These two books of drawings are by Fred Ransome Smith (Lieutenant "Smudger" Smith) himself a POW on the Thailand end of the line. With a few exceptions, work by artists provides the only pictorial record of the conditions on the railway and of the atrocities committed against the POWs. Smudger was an officer at the roadblock in Singapore, from which General Percival went forward to complete the surrender on 15 February, 1942. He studied at Chelsea Art School before the war and Weary Dunlop, in a foreword to the first book, commended the work.
Obtainable from Fred Ransome Smith, 29 Seymour Grove, Brighton Beach, Melbourne Victoria Australia 3186. Price $20 each including postage within Australia.

This 928 page book, which is a comprehensive history of the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion, is a must for anyone doing research on West Australian Military History in the period of WW2 and people who have links to the 2/4 Machine Gun Battalion. The book contains service details and pictures of every member of the Battalion. It also includes nearly 100 maps and coloured and black and white plates. The book has been well researched by Murray Ewen. It is priced at $135 and can be purchased from the following outletsThe Australian War Memorial, Hyland’s Books Melbourne, John Burridge Military Antiques,Swanbourne and Serendipidy Books, Leederville.
Some email addresses

MOON OVER MALAYA by Jonathon Moffatt and Audrey Holmes McCormick
This book was published in 2002 and deals with the exploits of the 2nd Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders and the Plymouth Argyle Royal Marines in Malaya, Singapore and their time in captivity. The story covers the period from when the Japs invaded Malaya in December 1941 through to capitulation on February 1942. There follows accounts of the experiences of the POWs in Sumatra,Java,Thailand,Burma, Borneo,Singapore and Japan. An excellent book which whilst concentrating on the Argyles etc gives an excellent insight into POW life. Retails for around $A25. Usually needs to be ordered in by reputable book sellers.

This book of nearly 200 pages is the memoirs of a Singapore Volunteer. It covers his experiences, which commenced on enlistment at the age of 17. On 17 February 1942, he actually marched into the Changi POW Camp. This was his 18th birthday. Later that year, along with others, he was moved to Thailand to work on the Burma Thailand Railway. The book details his experiences at Banpong,Wampo,Tonchan,Kanu and Kinsayok. Following this he moved south to Tarsao and Tamuang. His experiences then cover his time on a work party constructing/developing the Road link between Wampo and the port of Tavoy on the west coast of Burma...A good read which enables one to visualize the conditions of these POW locations. The Book retails in UK for around 11 pounds and at this stage probably needs to be ordered.

Don't be deceived by the title of the book. It is really a travel guide relevant to WW2 in Singapore and Thailand. Would be a valuable resource for people planning to travel in Thailand and Singapore in pursuit of WW2/ POW sites of relevance. This book has material that is not covered by books such as Lonely Planets. Interestingly it has a collection of extracts and anecdotes that the reader will find useful. Cost is $A26 and is available only on line from

A very readable military history. Much has been written about the fall of Singapore in World War II, but this carefully researched history of the 2/20th Battalion AIF is a very readable account of events with special insight into what it was like for a soldier's family back home. It describes the pre-war conditions in New South Wales, pre-embarkation training, passage from Sydney to Singapore on the Queen Mary early in 1941 and their training in Malaya. It follows the battalion's disastrous battle for Singapore and their subsequent capture and imprisonment by the Japanese. As the author tells the story of the Battalion's training in Malaya in 1941, she captivates the reader with her description of the unfolding war, woven together with the regular eloquent letters written between her father-in-law Capt Bill Gaden and his family. Bill's letters tell of their living conditions, encounters with the local population and amusing experiences during periods of leave. They reveal little of the growing tension, as the soldiers' excellent training and confident preparation give way to poor leadership and lack of support from mother England, as the Japanese eventually overwhelm Singapore. The author draws on a variety of sources to build a picture of what it was also like for the family at home in war-time Sydney Bill and many others from the 2/20th became members of 'D' Force on the infamous Thai-Burma railway, but in contrast to others, this book does not dwell on this horrific period and it also shows the subsequent struggle faced by former POWs as they try and return to normal life. This well-researched 320-page history is based on the Battalion's routine orders and official war diary but is supplemented by hundreds of other sources, all carefully documented. The personal perspective is maintained by extensive reporting of the fate of hundreds of the soldiers mentioned.
The book is available at $30 plus $9.60 postage from the author or phone Queensland 07 4911 4112.

Book Reviews by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP Inaugural President, Burma Thailand Railway Memorial Association (Inc) Unit 248, 85 Hester Ave., Merriwa WA 6030 or email


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