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The Forgotten Highlander - Alistair Urquhart.
Reviewed by Dan
Alistair Urquhart was born in Scotland in September of 1919.
By age 19 he was conscripted into the British army and sent straight to the far east to be stationed in Fort Canning Singapore. The Second World War is my favourite subject to read about, a monumental event that has shaped our world and society as we know it. Survivors are still among us who silently bare the scars, desperately shy or ashamed to recount their memories of these incomparable living memories, a tangible, yet truly and horribly untapped resource of astoundingly captivating information.
Alistair’s own wife, Mary, had no idea of his traumatic experience and died without ever knowing. It was only after her death in 1993 that he started to tell his amazing story.
This book opens up a world of pain, loss, bravery, love, devotion, courage, fear, terror, anger, hatred, passion, determination, loathing, tenacity, and yes, even vampirism.
Alistair, still alive today, was put through everything the Far East had to offer. The fall of Singapore, and the subsequent Japanese occupation whilst interned at the infamous Changi prison. A hellish train journey into the jungles of Malaysia and Thailand to work on the infamous death railway. A voyage on a Japanese hell ship which ended in him being torpedoed by allied forces and stranded at sea for 5 days. He was then sent to a Japanese concentration camp and even survived the atomic bomb. This is just a snippet of what he had to endure, not to mention the starvation and diseases that come with living in tropical jungle conditions.
My brother, a self confessed non book reader finally read it after I begged him to and even went so far as to giving him my own beloved copy…
“Dan I haven’t read a book in 20 years and I ain’t about to start now.”
He finished it in 3 days and was left speechless.
A Scottish colleague who had never heard of Alistair had the book completed in 2 days and was astounded to learn that the statue he had walked past 1000 times at his girlfriends college was that of Alistair Urquhart.
“People walk past the statue every day and have no idea who he is or what he sacrificed, I want to reach out to him and thank him personally from all of my generation.”
No book has ever made me connect with the author in such a way, and I doubt any other will ever again.
Thank you Alistair Urquhart for your sacrifices and suffering, without men of your courage and spirit during humanities darkest hour the world today would be a much different place.
Please find the time to watch a documentary about Alistair's war, I have inserted the link below.
But, believe me, although an excellent production, as is nearly always the case with film, this does the book little to no justice.