Resolution Was All. "One Fourteenth of an Elephant: A Memoir of Life and Death on the Burma-Thailand Railway" by Ian Denys Peek and "If This Should Be Farewell: A Family Separated by War" by Adrian Wood (ed). [review]
These two unusual books reflect on aspects of the prisoner-of-war experience in Singapore, Thailand and Burma during World War II that have not been much canvassed in Australia. "One Fourteenth of an Elephant", Ian Denys Peek’s sometimes irascible 'memoir of life and death on the Burma–Thailand Railway', relates the experiences of a member of the Singapore Volunteer Armoured Car Company. Peek’s story gives a British perspective on a fate that he shared with thousands of Australians. So, too, does "If This Should Be Farewell: A Family Separated by War". Edited by Adrian Wood, this is a compilation from the letters of his grandmother Mary (who escaped Kuala Lumpur, then Singapore, to arrive in initial dismay at Perth) and his grandfather Ernest Hodgkin (a medical entomologist who was one of 3000 civilian internees at Changi and Sime Road gaols in Singapore). Artfully interwoven, they provide a distinctive perspective on separation, anxiety, incomprehension and hope, as the torn family, and the parents in particular, tried to maintain contact. The Hodgkins were English Quakers, who had welcomed the chance to work in Malaya, and quickly had four children. Australia would become their home, as it would for Peek.