'My experience as a POW definitely changed my outlook on life. It made me aware of how precious life in, and how easily lost. I saw thousands of men's lives treated as rubbish by the Japanese. I survived the cholera outbreaks in Burma where you might say goodnight to the man lying next to you and find him dead beside you in the morning. I have valued each day since coming home. I know how lucky I am to have made it.' - Jack Thorpe, Java, 1942
Almost 35,000 Australian service personnel were taken prisoner during the Boer War, World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean War. Living as a POW demanded extremes of courage, defiance and mateship from our servicemen and women.
For many, their greatest victory would be in the simple act of surviving.
The courage of each POW is integral to our Australian identity. Surviving as a prisoner of war required as much strength of character as any hard fought battle. Some lived to tell their tales about extreme suffering and hardship and many would carry with them the memory of those who died.
'Aussie Soldier: Prisoners of War' is about the men and women who found themselves on the wrong side of the wire. The heartfelt stories will transport you on their very personal journeys. You will relive the capture, living conditions, escape attempts, punishments, humour, strength and morale - and for some - the eventual taste of freedom. It is a remarkable collection of reminiscences and experiences that will be treasured as part of our rich military history.
These vivid and compelling stories highlight the contradictions of war: the compassion and generosity on the one hand, and the cruelty, hate and indifference on the other.
Introduction: A POWs History
3. Daily Life
5. Glimpses of Comfort
7. War Crimes
9. Coming Home
10. POW Camps
11. Battle Book
Epilogue: The Small Fortress of Terezin