“Pursuit of the Golden Lily” is a new novel by R. Emery, inspired by her father's WWII POW diary. Initially documenting the author's journey to return the diary to Thailand where it was written, the Blog now follows her experiences as she self-publishes, launches the novel and reflects on topics woven into the narrative.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Farewell to the diary...

My brother Chris and I take a moment to leaf through our father's WWII diary before handing it over to Terry Manttan (pictured with both of us below). Terry's the General Manager of the Thailand Burma Railway Center (TRBC), in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The small museum is close to the River Khwae Noi, not far from where Daddy spent time as a prisoner of the Japanese. It's been a long and winding journey to bring his historical memoir here. I want to thank my family and all the people who supported my Indiegogo fund-raising campaign - I would not have been able to do this without you. Deep gratitude to everyone. Dad's meticulous records of people and places will assist the museum staff in retracing the journeys of some of his fellow POWs, helping bring closure to their surviving relatives.
In October, I met with Managing Director and founder of the TRBC, Rod Beattie (pictured below). Rod, Terry and all the staff at the center are profoundly committed to their work. The establishment is a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of prisoners and laborers who worked on the Thailand-Burma railway under the order of the Japanese Imperial Army. In addition to the 12,000 Allied POWs who died, there were some 100,000 men from Burma, Java and Malaya who also perished. 
Much of what happened during the Pacific War has been largely overlooked by the West. Thanks to the tireless research of people like Rod and Terry, pieces of the puzzle are slowly being woven together. My research for Pursuit of the Golden Lily opened pandora's box for me; I learned a lot. The TRBC has done a wonderful job of illustrating what transpired during the construction of the Thailand-Burma railway. Being a physician, my father was spared the horrific task of physically working on the railroad. However, his frustration at not having adequate medical supplies to properly treat his patients was evident in the pages of his diary. He, and the other doctors, did what they could. Ruby took this picture of my brother Chris, standing next to an exhibit of a POW medical ward at the center. It's uncanny how Chris resembles the model of the doctor!
At one point on his arduous journey from Ban Pon, in southern Thailand, to the POW camps in the north - Thanbaya and Chaunggahla-ya - my father stopped off for a few days at Tha Sao POW hospital near Kanchanaburi. We visited the site on our way up to Hellfire Pass. Located on the banks of the River Khwae Noi, it now stands peaceful and serene. It was a beautiful day; the trees rustled in the breeze, the waters of the river rushed past. It was hard to imagine the suffering experienced there so many years ago.
 Marjorie shared with us a poem she wrote after we attended a WWII memorial service at the TBRC in Kanchanaburi. It's a beautiful tribute, and we were all profoundly moved. You can hear Marjorie read it on Youtube here: An Ode to Edward
Finally, before leaving the museum, Terry Manttan shared some precious information with us. By cross referencing Dad's diary with their existing records Terry was able to fill in the blanks of Dad's journey up through Thailand. And, most precious of all, Terry read us a report from Dad's commanding officer, 
Major Bruce Hunt:
"The Burma Hospital camp, for reasons stated above, could not be regarded as a success. Its partial failure, however, was much mitigated by the efficient work of the administrative staff, by the devotion to duty of the ward masters and by the professional skill and knowledge displayed by some of the medical staff. In this particular connection I would mention particularly Maj. W.K.E. Phillips RAMC, Capt. Edward Emery RAMC, Capt. F.J. Cahill AAMC and Asst. Surgeon Wolfe IMD. Outstanding nursing work was performed by Corporals Skippen and Sutton RAMC."
Thank you Daddy, for all that you did to relieve the suffering of so many. This journey has helped me to glimpse a fraction of what you went through and I can only hope to be as resilient and courageous as you and your fellow POWs were. 


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  2. What a wonderful experience for you Rosie! So glad that I could contribute in a small way to your realizing this dream.
    All the best on the rest of your journey.
    Keep us posted.
    Love, Geralyne