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I was born in Barcelona and have lived in the UK for many years now. I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often. I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links. My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

Comments (15)

  1. Olga, thank you so much for this comprehensive review and all the work to gather information around the book and my life. I have just returned from giving a talk about the book in the North of England to a group of people who were, many of them, alive during the war. I found their reactions and questions very moving. On the train I read, and enjoyed, Jessica Duchen’s Ghost Variations, thanks to your excellent review!

    1. Thanks, Hilary. It was a great experience to be able to share the story. And thanks for introducing me to Pen & Sword, who are based very close to where I live and have a fabulous catalogue I’ll keep my eyes on. And I’m so pleased you enjoyed Ghost Variations. A wonderful book!

  2. This sounds like an excellent personal story to add to the many about those camps, and POW conditions. I was reminded of the film ‘The Railway Man’, that I watched last year. Good luck to Hilary with her new book.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thanks, Pete. It’s very well done and a good addition indeed. I didn’t catch ‘The Railway Man’ but now I’ll try and get hold of it. Thanks, Pete!

    2. Thank you, Pete. My hope was not so much to add to the (plentiful) supply of books about the horrors of war, as to show the extraordinary efforts made by very ordinary people, both in the camps and back in Britain, to survive and to maintain human contact.

      1. It sounds as if you managed that very well, Hilary. My uncle was a POW of the Japanese, until late 1945, so I knew something of his story too. Badly damaged by the experience, at a time when we didn’t talk about PTSD and such things.
        Best wishes, Pete.

        1. I am a little out of date with my responses, Pete, but can you tell me the name and regiment of your uncle? Also whether he was in Thailand on the railway or elsewhere in the Japanese territories?

          1. He was originally in the Royal Artillery, a regular before 1939. I don’t know which exact unit he served with in Burma, but he spoke of using small field guns, which were taken apart, conveyed on mules, then reassembled for fighting. There were native troops serving alongside him as well, doing some of the manual labour. He was not a prisoner on the railway as far as I know. I believe he was in a larger camp, somewhere else. Unfortunately, all my older relatives on that side are now dead, so I have no one to confirm anything with. His name was Harold Johnson. ‘Uncle Harry’ to me. I am unsure what rank he had when he was captured, but probably bombardier.
            Sorry I cannot be of more help.
            Best wishes, Pete.

          2. Hello, Pete, (there doesn’t seem to be a reply button to your comment), so just to say thank you for this information. I have a good source of information about prisoners on the railway in Thailand, but I may not be able to find out more about your uncle. I will be at a memorial service for FEPOWs in Wymondham in a couple of weeks and at a FEPOW conference in Liverpool in June. So I will remember him.

          3. Thanks, Hilary. I think the issue with the reply button is that it only allows for 5 embedded comments out of a single one. I have both your and Pete’s e-mails, so if you wish to exchange details for further communication, let me know. There would be always room for an update post in the future. Thanks and all the best.

          4. Thanks, Olga, I’ll be in touch if I do find anything new for Pete.

          5. Thanks, Hilary. Good luck and yes, please do.

  3. I too find the war stories of the people more interesting than the fighting, Olga. Hilary has really done her homework — and so did you. I appreciate this detailed review, and the introduction to Hilary. Huge hugs!

    1. Thanks so much, Teagan. She has indeed. Have a lovely weekend:)

    2. You are kind, Teagan. It is one of the forgotten aspects of war that so many soldiers, who are never involved in fighting, suffer and die. In the group of 69 men (and their families at home) that I write about only one died in ‘action’; he was restoring power lines on an airfield during the battle for Singapore.

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