7 March 2009

What Price Bushido?

Alf 'Blackie' Baker was captured by the Japanese in Singapore in February 1942. 'What Price Bushido?' is his story of his treatment as a FEPOW.

However, while a considerable number of stories have been published by FEPOWs about the treatment in POW camps in Thailand (the 'Death Railway'), Alf Baker's story is very different.

He was one of the 600 Artillerymen who were transported to Rabaul, New Britain (now Papua New Guinea - see Google Map) in October 1942. When the war ended three years later, only 18 men remained alive. 517 of these men were taken to Ballale in the Solomon Islands, from which none returned alive - a terrible incident which seems to have been lost in history.

Before I read this book I had no idea about what happened at Rabaul and Ballale. Alf Baker's book includes a Roll of Honour of both the lost and the survivors. It is a fitting tribute to the men who lost their lives while POWs of the Japanese.

Believed to be out of print, although I have seen copies in secondhand bookshops in Devon.

Further reading:
The story of Alfred William Burgess (killed at Ballale)

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