Author, academic and former PoW;
Born: May 30, 1919; Died: October 8, 2012.
ERIC Lomax, who has died aged 93, was a former army officer whose harrowing experiences as a prisoner of war with the Japanese inspired him to write an award-winning book, The Railway Man, which is currently being made into a film.
Published in 1995, the book is perhaps unique in that, rather than being drawn from memory, it is based on witness accounts he laboriously wrote down at the end of hostilities, along with the horrific details of his own experiences.
Born and brought up in Edinburgh, he was educated at the city's Royal High School and entered a civil service competition for a Post Office job when he was 16 and placed in the city. He quickly moved up the grades within the civil service but, after war broke out, joined the Supplementary Reserve of the Royal Corps of Signals which recruited men from the Post Office Telephones. After intense training, he became a second lieutenant with the Royal Signals and was posted to Asia.
He was captured in Singapore in February, 1942, and along with thousands of other allied PoWs was sent to the notorious Changi camp and from there set to work on the infamous Death Railway, which was being constructed between Burma and Thailand.
The inhuman treatment meted out by the Japanese caused the deaths of thousands of prisoners and civilian Asian labourers but, despite malnutrition, illness and regular beatings, Mr Lomax and fellow PoWs managed to build a radio in a bid to find out how the war was progressing with the hope of keeping up morale. He also created a detailed map of the surroundings which could be used in an escape attempt but this proved to be his downfall. The radio was discovered on August 29, 1943, setting off a sequence of terrible repercussions.
Almost immediately two members of the radio group were arrested, beaten nearly to death then transferred into the hands of the Kempetai, the Japanese military police. On September 21, four further members of the group, including Mr Lomax, were arrested and again beaten severely.
Four days later, a further four officers were similarly arrested and of those, Captain Hawley and Lieutenant Armitage were beaten to death and their bodies thrown into a camp latrine.
As a result of the map, Mr Lomax was subjected to a week of excruciating torture, including water boarding. His ordeal was not over, as he was then moved to the notorious Outram Road prison where he was sure he would starve to death or die of disease. He only survived the war by deliberately throwing himself down a flight of iron stairs so he would be injured and transferred to hospital. He was relieved to escape serious injury but feigned paralysis and was transferred, which gave him life-saving respite in hospital.
When peace came in 1945 he felt unready to re-enter civilian life and signed up to the army for another two years, becoming a captain.
He then entered the Colonial Service and was posted to the Gold Coast to prepare the way for the handover of power to what would become Ghana.
On returning in 1955, he studied personnel management and worked first with the industrial relations branch of the Scottish Gas Board then, after becoming interested in the teaching of better industrial relations, became an academic lecturing at Strathclyde University and all over the country on personnel management, finally retiring in 1982.
Despite being outwardly successful, his horrific wartime experiences continued to haunt him and his first marriage, already under strain after the death of a baby son and the ill health of the oldest of two daughters, broke up.
Peace of mind only entered his life after he met a nurse called Patricia Wallace on a train journey from Crewe to Glasgow. Love blossomed and they married in 1983, when he was 64 and Patti was 46.
They set up home in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Mr Lomax, who continued to be haunted by his former ordeals, was encouraged by Patti to seek healing from the trauma.
He became the first ex-serviceman from the Second World War to be accepted as a patient of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, under the directorship of Helen Bamber.
With care and counselling from the foundation and much support from Patti his desire for revenge became an amazing journey of reconciliation which is outlined in his book.
He documents how he met one of his former torturers, interpreter Takashi Nagasi, on the bridge over the River Kwai, built by prisoner-of-war labour. The meeting between the two men was filmed as an award-winning documentary Enemy, My Friend? (1995). The book won the 1996 NCR Book Award and the JR Ackerley prize for autobiography.
The book is now being made into a film starring Oscar winners Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, it is to be released next year.
Mr Lomax is survived by Patti and daughter Charmaine from his first marriage.
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