From Java to Nagasaki A Record of Life in Captivity, 1942-1945 By Les Spence

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A donation will be made from the royalties of this book to the Java Club.

Les Spence was a leading sportsman before the war, captaining Cardiff Rugby Club.

He later held administrative roles at Cardiff Rugby Club and Glamorgan County Cricket Club, and was president of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1973-74.

In 1975 he led the Welsh rugby team on a tour of the country. He was awarded the MBE two years later.

He died in 1988, aged 81.

Les Spence risked his life to keep a remarkable daily record of hardship, courage and endurance in prison camps run by the Japanese.

For nearly four years he and his fellow prisoners faced starvation, disease and cruelty. They kept up their spirits by playing sport, listening to an illicit radio and by trying to create their own civilised society behind barbed wire.

Throughout the suffering in Java, a perilous journey in the hold of an infamous hellship and the horrors of a forced labour camp in Japan, Les Spence kept writing.

He spent much of his time in a coal mining camp near Nagasaki. There, he was able to record one of the most momentous events in history: the dropping of the plutonium bomb on the city.

We had uneventful train journey to Nagasaki and then we saw the result of the atomic bomb. It was simply astounding, nothing left standing for miles, everything flat and burnt out.

Covering the period from January 1942 to November 1945, the diaries have been annotated to create a record of the Allied forces who many feel were sacrificed on Java.

Les Spence's work is a first-hand account of how to hold onto hope when all seems lost.

"Moving and magnificent in its reportage, this is a war story with a difference. The very gut-wrenching rawness of Les Spence’s diary is a reminder of an area of World War Two almost forgotten: the battle for Java and the sacrifice that followed. This is one of those books that once you start you can’t forget it. These secret diaries have been lovingly edited by Greg Lewis to provide a firsthand account of the rigours of being a prisoner of a cruel enemy is superbly evoked."
Gordon Thomas, author of 'Voyage of the Damned', 'Inside British Intelligence' and 'Gideon’s Spies'

"A remarkable testament to courage and endurance in the face of hardship and cruelty - and a firsthand account of how to hold on to hope when all seems lost."
Western Mail

"A remarkable wartime document."
South Wales Echo

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