In February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese and Denys Peek was among the tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and citizens taken prisoner. Eight months later, he and countless other PoWs were packed into steel goods wagons and transported by rail to Slam - their destination the massive construction project that would become infamous as the Burma Thailand Railway. He would spend the next three years in over 15 different work and 'hospital' camps on the railway, stubbornly refusing to give up in a place where over 20,000 prisoners of war (an innumerable slave labourers) met their deaths. Written with clarity, passion and a remarkable eye for detail, Denys Peek's memoir recalls not just the hardships and horrors of the railway, the daily struggle for survival, but also the comradeship, spirit and humour of the men who worked on it. It stands as a haunting, evocative and deeply moving testimony to the suffering of those who lived and died there - a salutary reminder of man's potential for inhumanity to his fellow man.
Ian Denys Peek was born in London but brought up in Shanghai, returning to England to be educated. After leaving school, he and his brother were reunited with their parents in Singapore. In 1939, after the declaration of war, he joined the Singapore Volunteer Corps. He was taken prisoner in 1942 following the Fall of Singapore. Denys Peek was repatriated to England at the end of the war but returned to the Far East where he worked as a harbour master. He moved to Australia in the 1960s.