COLONEL OF TAMARKAN The Colonel of Tamarkan

Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai

Julie Summers

Alec Guinness won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the dogmatic but brittle commanding officer in David Lean’s film ‘ The Bridge on the River Kwai’. While a brilliant performance, it owed more to fiction than fact, as the man who actually commanded the POWs ordered to build the infamous bridges - there were in fact two: one wooden, one concrete - was cut from a different cloth.

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey, the senior officer among the 3,000 - odd Allied servicemen in Tamarkan prison camp had to comply with Japanese orders to help construct their Thailand-Burma railway. With malnutrition, disease and brutality their constant companions, it was a near-impossible task for men who already endured terrible privations but under Toosey’s careful directions, a subtle balancing act between compliance and subversion, the Allied inmates not only survived but regained some of their self-respect.

Re-creating the story of the remarkable leader with tremendous skill and narrative flair, and drawing on many original interviews with Second World War POWs from the Asian theatre, The Colonel of Tamarkan is a riveting blend of biography and history.

Julie Summers is a writer and researcher, and the granddaughter of Sir Philip Toosey. She is the author of several previous books including Fearless on Everest: The Quest for Sandy Irvine. Julie lives with her husband and three sons in Oxford.

To receive your copy of The Colonel of Tamarkan at 17.99 with free p&p

please call: 01624 836000 or email

ISBN 0-7432-6350-2




Poisonous InfernoPoisonous Inferno

World War II Tragedy at Bari Harbour

By George Southern

The terrible event of 2 December 1943 in the Italian port of Bari has been shrouded in secrecy and subject to official censorship. On that night, an Allied convoy of twenty-one ships, carrying highly flammable fuel and ammunition, was bombed by the Luftwaffe as its volatile cargo was being unloaded.

It was a devastating attack and the ships trapped in the overcrowded harbour soon became an exploding mass of burning oil and white-hot metal. For many crew, survival from this mayhem was to leap into the harbour waters and pray for rescue. But the rescued and the rescuers did not know that they were immersed in a deadly cocktail of oil and liquid mustard gas. This is the story of that fatal night and its terrible lingering aftermath told by a man who was there.

A few year ago, on writing an article, the Bari Harbour incident was mentioned. I wanted to know more, but unfortunately there was not much information available. This book now tells this amazing story and of its consequences. It has been researched methodically and with the authors first hand knowledge make it a must read for all those who thirst for the truth.

Ron Taylor - Britain at War and Fepow Community

Price 16.99

$24.95 US


207 pages with 50 illustrations

ISBN 1 84037 389 X

Publication Date 2002

Published by Airlife Publishing Ltd




New Forest at WarThe New Forest at War

By John Leete

The New Forest at War documents aspects of the social and military history of this unique area of Britain during the years of the Second World War. The Forest was on the front line of the invasion build-up and launch of D-Day in June 1944. Although many parts of Britain contributed to the final assault, it was this part of Hampshire that was used as the primary assembly and departure point. There were over 100,000 troops under canvas and thousands of military vehicles parked in the quiet country lanes throughout the area. There were also many thousands of ships off the Forest coastline in the waters of the Solent.

This new book has been meticulously researched. It is well illustrated with photographs, maps and documents, and contains many first-hand accounts of the New Forest during the war. The reminiscences featured here come from military personnel as well as civilians, and provide us with a fascinating snapshot of life at this critical time. It will be of great interest to everyone who lives in Britain’s wartime heritage.

Having spent many holidays in this region and wanting to know more of the Forest’s history, ‘The Forest’ by Edward Rutherfurd and ‘The New Forest at War’ by John Leete were read. I had very little knowledge of the Forests use in WW2 and ‘The New Forest at War’ proved to be an eye opener.  Both books were very good reading but it is advisable to start with ‘The Forest’.

Ron Taylor - Britain at War and Fepow Community

Price 12.99

In Paperback

Published by Sutton Publishing




Hurricane Over the JungleHurricane Over the Jungle

120 Days Fighting the Japanese Onslaught in 1942

By Terence Kelly

Every Royal Air Force Squadron has a dairy which is kept at the National Archives, this records every flight, every triumph, every accident and every death. The facts makes up the very essence of the squadron, chronicles of small groups of men sharing a unique companionship before through promotion, posting, death or capture sends them their separate ways. The Squadron’s as a rule went on, surviving disasters and rebuilding, as a rule the dairy is an uninterrupted history. But occasionally, the reader may find a break in the dairy, a gap for which there is no explanation - 258 Squadron became such a gap.

In October 1941 the twenty-two pilots No 258 Squadron RAF, left Scotland for a then unknown destination, the records list the names of those 22 pilots each of very different nationalities. The next entry in the dairy is 120 days later when the new officer takes command.

The personal memoir of Terence Kelly one of those 22 pilots, he re-tells the events of those missing 120 days when all but seven of the men who had not been killed became prisoners of the Japanese. The story takes us to the final defence of Singapore, to Sumatra and onto Java where Kelly recaptures the atmosphere of the constant bitter aerial engagements with the enemy and the hostile terrain over which they fought, and onto the capture of the final members of the Squadron.

Terence Kelly flew Hurricanes in Britain and then the Far East until being captured by the Japanes and surving the dreadful conditions of their POW camps until the end of the war. He has written four other books on World War II as well as stage plays and fictional works.

This is a must for those researching the RAF in the Far East during the Japanese invasion of Malaya, Singapore, Sumatra and Java.

Ron Taylor - Britain at War and Fepow Community

Price 12.99


178 Pages

Publication Date 12th May 2005

ISBN: 1 84415 198 0

Published by Pen & Sword Books



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