Ian Denys Peek

One Fourteenth Of An Elephant
  • One Fourteenth Of An Elephant

  • In February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese. Denys Peek and his brother were just two of tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and citizens taken prisoner.
    Eight months later, he and his comrades were packed into steel goods wagons and transported by rail to Siam. They were to become part of the slave labour force destined for the massive construction project that would later become infamous as the Burma Thailand Railway. He would spend the next three years in over fifteen different work and 'hospital' camps on the railway, stubbornly refusing to give in and die in a place where over 20,000 prisoners of war and uncounted slave labourers met their deaths.
    Narrated in the present tense and written with clarity, passion and a remarkable eye for detail, Denys Peek has vividly recreated not just the hardships and horrors of the railway and the daily struggle for survival but also the comradeship, spirit and humour of the men who worked on it. It stands as a haunting, evocative and deeply moving testimony to the suffering of those who lived and died there - a salutary reminder of man's potential for inhumanity to his fellow man.

The son of English parents, Ian Denys Peek was born in London but brought up in Shanghai, returning to England to be educated. After leaving school, he and his brother were reunited with their parents in Singapore. In 1939, following the declaration of war with Germany, he joined the Singapore Volunteer Corps and was taken prisoner in 1942 following the Fall of Singapore. Denys Peek was repatriated to England following the end of the war but returned to the Far East where he worked as a harbour master before moving to Australia in the 1960s, where he still lives.

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