An unusual and extreme POW story, the Sandakan tragedy had four stages: active resistance in 1942–3, stubborn endurance in 1943–4, the collapse of civilized existence in 1945 and, finally, the postwar decades of torment for the six damaged survivors, the gradual assimilation of the story, the healing of the damage and the commemoration of the tragedy by the families and communities involved.
Richard Wallace Braithwaite’s father was one of the six survivors of the Sandakan death marches of 1945. He died in 1986, still wanting the story to be properly told. This led to a project that has lasted for much of the last forty years of the author’s life, culminating in this book. With a scientific background, Richard worked for many years with CSIRO and universities in the biological and social sciences and in historical research. His extensive and diverse research history and lifelong personal immersion in the story has given him a unique perspective in exploring the complexities of the Sandakan tragedy.