“Last Post Over the River Kwai” tells the story of the officers and men of the 2nd Battalion East Surreys during World War II. The Battalion was stationed in Shanghai in the early 1940’s and later deployed to Malaya and Singapore. After the surrender of Singapore they found themselves prisoners of war to the Japanese. What followed was over three years of barbarity of unimaginable description at the hands of the Japanese.
The book is broken up in the following chapters:
1. Formation of the Regiment / Shanghai, China 1938-1940.
2. Back to Singapore / the Japanese Invasion of Malaya, 1940-1941
3. The Battle of Gurun and Kampar
4. The Battle of Singapore
5. Escape Attempts
6. Changi and the Thai/Burma Railway
7. The Hellships
8. Overseas Camps
9. Japan Surrenders – Homeward Bound
“Last Post Over the River Kwai” tells an incredible tale of the 2 East Surreys with several firsthand accounts of the combatants during the fall of Singapore and the subsequent captivity. The book does have a special focus on the 2 East Surreys as a unit and then individuals as they are split apart during captivity, but it also narrates the entire campaign for the reader throughout. Lowry gives a splendid telling of the campaign and the plight of the POW at the hands of the Japanese.
I found the book to be an invaluable study in the surrender of Singapore and its aftermath in respect to the men forced into captivity. The brutality of the Japanese which began at the very beginning of the surrender of Singapore and lasted till the very end of Japan’s surrender was barbaric. The men were treated so poorly that it is amazing that any of them were able to survive; even though most of them survived and returned to England.
The “Last Post Over the River Kwai” is a very inspirational book and a must read – especially if you’re interested in the Malayan campaign. It is filled with tragedy and cruelty, but also with humor and kindness. LPORK is masterful at showing us mankind at his lowest possible and also at his highest. I am very thankful to have been able to read their story.
About the Author:
Cecil Lowry was born in Northern Ireland two and a half years after the end of the war with Japan, Cecil Lowry is the son of Hugh Lowry, who was a private in the East Surrey Regiment and a Far East Prisoner of war from February 1942 until August 1945.
Cecil spent his career in Sports management before retiring from his post as Assistant Director of Sport at the University of Manchester in 2002 to concentrate on writing. This is his third book, following successes with No Mercy from the Japanese, A Survivor’s account of the Thai/Burma Railway and the Hellships (2008) and Two Years of Tenko, Life as a 16 year old in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp (2015).
Cecil lives in Stockport and has two sons and two grandchildren. His two grandchildren are unique in that they have two great grandfathers who were Far East Prisoners of War.