The Battle Within
POWs in post war Australia
By Christina Twomey
Published by New South
RRP $39.99 in Paperback • ISBN 9781742235684
This book by Christina Twomey was of special interest to me as my uncle was a POW in Changi and on the Burma Railway. While he did not talk openly of his time as a POW, he appeared not to have encountered many of the difficulties experienced by the subjects of this book. He was however dismayed at the lack of understanding by both the government, officials and the public as a whole.
While Twomey was denied access to repatriation records she found a veritable treasure trove of documents via the Prisoners of War Trust Fund. Established in 1952, former POWs were able to apply for financial assistance based on their situation. In many cases, these applications were very detailed and quite disturbing. Unfortunately they were quite often treated with little compassion or understanding by officials of the Army and the Repatriation Department.
In this revealing book, Twomey outlines the battle to persuade the Australian government that a defeated soldier was worthy of commemoration and respect and the individual battles to find a place of contentment and reintegrate back into civilian life.
What is chilling is that more than seventy years on from the end of World War II, the same issues continue to plague returning veterans. The battle within continues.