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POW on the Sumatra Railway

John Geoffrey Lee

Member, Christine Bridges, is delighted to announce the publication of her FEPOW father’s book, written by him with two fingers on a typewriter in the 1990’s and unable to get it published before he died in 2002. The book is now available through Pen and Sword from June 2022...

“John Geoffrey Lee, (known as Geoff), joined the RAF on his 20th birthday in June 1941. He left Liverpool on a troopship in December that year, with no idea of his destination. Eventually arriving in Java, he was soon captured by the Japanese, along with many others.

“During his time in captivity, he survived several camps in Java, Ambon and Singapore, and three ‘hell-ship’ journeys.

“After being washed ashore in Sumatra (as the ferry on which he was being transported, blew up), he was recaptured and suffered the hell of working as a slave on the Sumatra Railway. He endured bouts of malaria, beri-beri, tropical ulcers and a starvation diet, intensified by searing heat and the extreme cruelty meted out by Japanese and Korean guards.

“Geoff miraculously survived, weighing just 6 stone when he arrived back in Liverpool in December 1945.

"After his release, he found it difficult to convince people where he’d been held, as no-one had heard of the ‘Sumatra Railway’. His letters to newspapers were returned as ‘Just another Burma Railway story’.The Ministry of Defence, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Imperial War Museum had no records of POWs building railways in Sumatra.

“So began Geoff’s journey, his aim - to prove to the establishment what he knew to be true, and bring awareness of the horrors of the Sumatra Death Railway.”

For more information on “POW on the Sumatra Railway”, please contact Christine by email on or via the publishers at:

Also available from Amazon and all good book shops.