Stubborn Buggers: Survivors of the Infamous POW Gaol That Made Changi Look like Heaven

Stubborn Buggers: Survivors of the Infamous POW Gaol That Made Changi Look like Heaven

Stubborn Buggers: Survivors of the Infamous POW Gaol That Made Changi Look like Heaven

Stubborn Buggers: Survivors of the Infamous POW Gaol That Made Changi Look like Heaven

Excerpt

I started writing this book nearly thirty years ago. It had its genesis in two major series of oral history programs that I made for ABC Radio over a period of four years in the early 1980s. The series were the sixteen-part Prisoners of War: Australians Under Nippon followed by a ten-part series, Survival. Survival profiled the remarkable experiences of eight ex-prisoners of war, including the accounts of Signaller Chris Neilson and Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, the sole survivor of a massacre of Australian nurses on Banka Island, Sumatra.

Neilson had been a prisoner in Singapore’s Outram Road Gaol, a brutal nineteenth-century establishment where torture and punishment accompanied solitary confinement in tiny cells in the three-storey stone and concrete British gaol. Neilson’s account of his experiences in and out of Outram Road was one of the most singular of the Australian former inmates I interviewed from that awful place. It symbolised for me the sheer grit, determination and mental toughness that enabled people to go on living, even when starved, beaten and facing a future seemingly with no hope except a slow death.

Formerly Pearl’s Hill Prison, built in 1847, it was condemned and scheduled to be demolished in 1912 but the British did not get around . . .

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