POW tells his story

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THE publication of a new book aims to tell the full story of the lives of the men from the Lanarkshire Yeomanry who fought in the Far East during WWII.

The book, entitled Death Was Our Bed-Mate: the 155th (Lanarkshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment and the Japanese 1941-45, tells the full story of the scores of local POWs who were treated inhumanly by the Japanese after the ill-fated Malayan campaign of 1941/42.

The book is written by Agnes McEwan, the daughter of John McEwan, a former gunner with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry, who was himself a POW of the Japanese. The co-writer is Campbell Thomson from the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Group.

Campbell said: “The whole book came from meeting John McEwan.

“He was the real catalyst behind it.

“John’s book about his experiences – Out Of The Depths Of Hell – is critically acclaimed.

“I first got interested in the Yeomanry when I was visiting a friend and he gave me a copy of the book as he knew that I had an interest in military history.

“I took it out of politeness intending to return it, unread, after a few weeks.

“Later that evening casually, and disinterestedly, I flicked through the pages and was transfixed.

“It was harrowing, shocking, moving and uplifting all at the same time.

“I had to meet this amazing man and so began the journey to the second book.”

Campbell and Agnes spent hours researching the book and interviewing the surviving members of the Regiment and their families.

Visits were made to the National Archives at Kew in London, to the National Archives in Singapore, to the RA Museum and Library at Woolwich and to the Imperial War Museum.

Campbell added: “It has taken the best part of the year to write; we had written over 300,000 words and we had to cut one quarter of them which was quite painful.

“We are telling the story of not only the POWs but the story of the men who fought in the Far East in general because the men of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry were sent to many different parts of the Far East.

“There was a real burning interest from the families of the men to hear their story but I think there will also be a great fascination for lots of other people.

“Originally the book was not intended to be a commercial enterprise, but there has been sufficient interest from other parties which is excellent.

“It’s very important that the men of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry who suffered so much are not forgotten.”

The book will be formally launched at a meeting of the Lanarkshire Family History Society at the Glo Centre, in Motherwell, on Thursday, April 11.

For more information on the book see www.lanarkshireyeomanry.com.