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August 16, 2010

The Changi Brownlow: Roland Perry

ISBN 0733624642
(978-073-362464-3)
RRP $35.00 August 2010
Hachette Aust Paperback
A moving and powerful story of a group of Australian POWs who organise an Australian Rules Football competition under the worst conditions imaginable - inside Changi prison - and then step into history as they live and die building the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.

This non-fiction book is about Peter Chitty, the farm hand from Snowy River country with unfathomable physical and mental fortitude, and one of seven in his immediate family who volunteered to fight and serve in WW2. The story includes 'Chicken' Smallhorn, the Brownlow-medal winning little man with the huge heart and of officers and doctors like 'Weary' Dunlop, who care for the POWs as they endure malnutrition, disease and often inhuman treatment.

After Singapore falls to the Japanese early in 1942, 70,000 prisoners including 15,000 Australians, are held as POWs at the notorious Changi and adjoining Selerang prisons in Singapore. To amuse themselves and fellow inmates, a group of sportsmen created an Australian Football League, complete with tribunal, selection panel, umpires and coaches. The final game of the one and only season was between 'Victoria' and the 'Rest of Australia'. This attracted more than 12,000 spectators, and a unique Brownlow Medal was awarded in this unlikely setting under the curious gaze of Japanese prison guards.

The match was to be the last one before, in April 1943, Australian POWs were sent from Changi to Thailand to construct a railway and road to be used for the Japanese assault on India. This book follows Peter Chitty and many of the other players on this journey. Half of them would be victims of the brutal conditions, never to return. A total of 23,000 Australian men and Allies died in the trying, depressing circumstances of incarceration and slave labor.

This is a story of courage and the invincibility of the human spirit. The Changi Brownlow highlights not only the Australian love of sport and its power to offer consolation in times of extreme hardship but an unsurpassed strength that helped many of them survive the four-year ordeal.

Roland Perry is well known as the author of a number of cricket books - ranging from biographies of Donald Bradman, Keith Miller, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne, and also accounts of other great tours and teams. Author Location: Melbourne, Victoria.

Tour information on Changi Prison

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