Survivor on the River Kwai is an account of Reg Twigg’s experiences as a prisoner on the infamous Burma Railway. Reg enlisted, as he thought, to fight the Nazis, but he ended up in the worst military defeat in modern British history – the fall of Singapore in 1942. What followed was three years of hell as Reg was moved from camp to camp along the River Kwai, building the notorious Railway that claimed so many lives. There was no God for Reg, no loved ones and the structure of the British army had all but collapsed. He lived in an alien world where normal rules did not apply and only the law of the jungle held sway. An ordinary lad from the backstreets of Leicester found himself cut off completely from anything he knew in a desperate bid to stay alive.
With brutality and death all around him, Reg learned to use the jungle to survive and learned to love its extraordinary beauty. He came through exhausting heat, malaria, cholera, swollen rivers and the incomprehensible discipline of the Japanese guards, who, imbued with the Samurai code of Bushido, had nothing but contempt for their prisoners.
Reg trapped and ate lizards, made soup from snake, burned men who had died of cholera and could do little but watch as his friends became crosses alongside the sleepers on the railway. His is a story of unremitting horror but it is alleviated along the way by the unexpected kindness of local civilians as much prisoners of the Japanese as he was. Reg was a risk taker whose survival strategies bordered on genius. His is a unique story which must be told.
As the number of survivors grows fewer with the years, it is all the more vital to capture the memories of the almost unbelievable experiences they went through. Over the years, Reg and his son Clive have gathered his experiences together and they are now given life by M J Trow in Survivor on the River Kwai.
Reg Twigg was born at Wigston (Leicester) barracks on 16th December 1913, ten years after the first powered flight. His early life was moving with his father’s Regiment but it was a poor, hard life and he grew up tough and sharp. In his youth he would cycle to Wales, play football or camp in the Leicestershire countryside. His first job was in a factory smoothing wooden shoe heels ending each day covered by sawdust but he earned enough to banish the hunger of childhood. So, when he was called up to the Leicestershire Regiment in 1940 he would happily eat the often insect c...
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