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Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II
Loet Velmans was 17 when the Germans invaded his native Holland in 1940.Almost immediately, he and his family decided to escape to London, which they did on board the Dutch Coast Guard cutter, Seaman's Hope.Deciding theyt would be safer in the Far East, the family sailed to the Dutch East Indies-now Indonesia-where Loet joined the Dutch army.In March...
Loet Velmans was 17 when the Germans invaded his native Holland in 1940.Almost immediately, he and his family decided to escape to London, which they did on board the Dutch Coast Guard cutter, Seaman's Hope.Deciding theyt would be safer in the Far East, the family sailed to the Dutch East Indies-now Indonesia-where Loet joined the Dutch army.In March 1942, the Japanese invaded the archipelago, conquered it in a week, and made prisoners of the local Dutch soldiers.For the next three and a half years Loet and his fellow POW's were sent to slave labor camps to build a railroad through the dense jungle on the Burmese-Thailand border, to invade and conquer India.Some 200,000 POW's and slave laborers died in building this Railroad of Death.Loet, though suffering from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, and unspeakable maltreatment, never gave up hope...and survived.Fifty-seven years later he returned to revisit the place where he should have died and where he had buried his closest friend.From that emotional visit came this stunning memoir.
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