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War Behind The Wire – Australian Prisoners of War

Ed: Michael Caulfield (580.3/35991)
Publisher: Hachette Australia ISBN: 978733621116

More than 34,000 Australians have been taken prisoner of war –and one in three Australians who died in World War II was a POW. But we know more about Australia’s battle than we do of the stories of our men – and women and children – that were held prisoner.

In Behind the Wire, many of these stories are finally told – the men rescued from HMAS Perth as it sank, only to enter the hell of the Thai-Burma Railway; the flyers shot down over Europe who took part in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III; the women and children imprisoned for years by the Japanese whirlwind; and the men caught and tortured by the Chinese in Korea.

Prisoners lost years of their lives, wasting away behind the wire, often enduring unimaginable cruelty. Precious years, ruthlessly taken from a youth they could never regain. They lived through a world where only the fundamentals mattered – food, discipline, some small skerrick of hope … and precious, fragile, survival.

There are the stories of mateship and how the magnificent work of the inspirational doctors and officers kept so many alive. And then there are the stories of betrayal – not by the enemy, but by their own.

In these stories lives the best of us, as a people, and as a nation.

November 2008


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