Author(s): H. C. Owtram
Memoirs by former prisoners of war of the Japanese invariably make for moving reading but Colonel Owtrams account of his years of captivity has a special significance. After being captured in Singapore and transported to the infamous Burma railway he was appointed the British Camp Commandant at Chungkai, one of the largest POW camps. Many ex-prisoners testified to the mental and physical courage that he showed protecting POWs from the worst excesses of their captors. Of course his account does not admit to this but what is clear is that in addition to the deprivation and hardship suffered by all POWs, the author bore heavy responsibility for those under his charge and the daily trauma of dealing with the unpredictable Japanese. It is not only the prisoners who suffered but their families at home. The postscript written by the authors daughters vividly demonstrates the agonies of doubt and worry that loved ones went through and the effect of the experience on all.
Colonel Cary Owtram was educated at Shrewsbury School before being commissioned into the Royal Marine Artillery in 1917. He remained a member of the Territorial Army, while working in the cotton spinning industry until 1939 when he joined 137 Field Regiment RA. His war service in Malaya and captivity in Singapore and on the Burma Railway are the subject of this exceptional memoir. After the War he formed a new TA regiment which he commanded. As well as being awarded the OBE, he was High Sheriff of Lancashire (1965), a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, a Justice of the Peace, President of the Lunesdale and Preston Trading Society and Chairman and President of the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society.