THE widow of former prisoner of war Eric Lomax has spoken of her shock at hearing of the death of the woman who was instrumental in the completion of his best-selling book, The Railway Man.

News of the death of Helen Bamber was broken to Patti Lomax as she attended the Sarajevo Film Festival for a special screening of The Railway Man, the box office hit based on Mr Lomax's experiences during the Second World War. Mrs Bamber, 89, died last week.

"I was very upset to hear of her death as we all became good friends," said Mrs Lomax on Monday. "She really was responsible for him writing the book."

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Mr Lomax, who was tortured by the Japanese during the Second World War, met Mrs Bamber in 1987 when he visited her Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. Like many former PoWs his experiences on the Death Railway constructed between Thailand and Burma led to him suffering severe mental trauma for years after the war. With his wife's encouragement he finally sought help from Mrs Bamber's foundation in London.

"He told me it was the first time he had been able to speak to someone who listened and understood everything he was saying," said Mrs Lomax.