“Riveting, powerful, moving.”—The Observer, “Compelling . . .A book that must be read.”—Daily Mail. A story of almost unimaginable suffering.” --BBC Radio 4. “Urquhart grabs our attention with unforgettable stories.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
This is the extraordinary story of a young man, conscripted at nineteen, who survived not just one but three separate encounters with death—encounters which killed nearly all his comrades. Silent for over fifty years, this is Alistair Urquhart’s extraordinary, moving, and inspirational tale of survival against the odds.
Alistair Urquhart was among the Gordon Highlanders captured by the Japanese in Singapore during World War II. He not only survived 750 days in the jungle working as a slave on the notorious “death railway” and the bridge on the River Kwai, but he was subsequently taken prisoner on one of the Japanese “hellships” which was later torpedoed, killing nearly everyone on board—but not Urquhart.
He spent five days adrift on a raft in the South China Sea before being rescued by a Japanese whaling ship. He was then taken to Japan and forced to work in a mine near Nagasaki. Two months later he was struck by the blast from the atomic bomb—dropped just ten miles away.
In late August 1945, now a barely-living skeleton, he was freed by the American Navy and was able to bathe for the first time in three and a half years.