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Billy Young & Lynette Silver

Billy Young

Keith William (Billy) Young was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1925. After joining the army in 1941 at the age of 15, he was sent to Malaya, only to become a prisoner of war when Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942. One of the youngest Australians to be taken prisoner in WW2, Billy spent the remainder of his teenaged years at the notorious Sandakan Camp in Borneo, and the even more notorious Outram Road Gaol in Singapore, where he was imprisoned after an escape attempt. He was 19 when he was released from captivity. Now aged 90, Billy is the only soldier still alive who spent time in the Sandakan Camp, and the only surviving inmate of Outram Road Gaol. For many years Billy worked tirelessly to keep alive the story of Sandakan and the subsequent death marches, which took the lives of all but six of Sandakan's 2,500 POWs and, in 2004, was awarded an OAM in the Australia Day Honours for his efforts. Billy lives in quiet retirement in Sydney, where he spends his spare time indulging in his favourite hobby - painting. Some of the artwork depicting his wartime experiences has been used to illustrate Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW.

Lynette Silver

"LYNETTE RAMSAY SILVER AM is an author and military historian. Often referred to as a “history detective”, she is a recognised expert in identifying graves of servicemen killed in action or who died as prisoners of war and to date has identified the graves of 41 military personnel who were buried as ‘unknown’. Each Anzac Day she organises a tour for POW relatives to Sabah and also accompanies trekking groups along the Sandakan-Ranau death march track, ‘lost’ for 60 years and which she located and re-established with trekking expert Mr. Tham Yau Kong.

Lynette has received a Defence Forces Commendation and Medal from Special Operations Command Australia, for her work during the 60th Anniversary of a wartime mission known as Operation Jaywick, the first civilian ever to receive this prestigious award. In January 2004 she was also awarded an OAM in the Australia Day Honours for her services to veterans and their families for her work on Sandakan. This was followed in 2009 by a Ministerial Special Award from the Sabah Government for her research in tracing the fate of more than 2,500 POWs who died in Borneo.

In 2019, Lynette was made a Member of the Order of Australia; with her husband Neil Silver for initiating several philanthropic and educational projects in Sabah to better the life of the local people.

She lives in Sydney and has two children and is the grandmother of three. When not researching and writing Lynette’s time is fully occupied in consultative work with various organisations, raising money for her projects, public speaking, and accompanying tour groups to Singapore and Sabah. When she is ‘retired’, she hopes to take up painting again.

Other books include A Fool’s Gold?, The Battle of Vinegar Hill, Fabulous Furphies, The Heroes of Rimau, Krait the Fishing Boat that went to War, Sandakan: A Conspiracy of Silence, The Bridge at Parit Sulong, Marcel Caux: A Life Unraveled, Blood Brothers, Deadly Secrets: The Singapore raids 1942-45, and In the Mouth of the Tiger co-authored with Derek Emerson-Elliot and Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW co-authored with Billy Young."