Sandakan – A Conspiracy of Silence

Uncovering the horrific story of the Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp, Lynette Ramsay Silver details the bungled rescue attempt and deadly flaws within the senior ranks that ultimately stole the lives of all but 6 Australian men in the untamed conditions of North Borneo. Through painstaking research and interviews with survivors, as well as a study of Japanese records, Lynette has pieced together a detailed and highly readable account of the lives and ultimate fate of Sandakan’s POW’s. The integration of first-hand accounts and historical records forges a merciless portrayal of the crisp trepidation and unwarranted deception behind what has become WWII’s darkest and most deadly secret.

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The Kavieng Massacre: A War Crime Revealed

An engaging book revealing the shocking truth of the Kavieng Massacre in March 1944. During the push southward in the Pacific by the Japanese during World War II, a large group of expatriate Australian men and German Catholic missionaries were trapped on New Ireland, many interned by the Japanese in September 1942 at Kavieng. They disappeared without trace in March 1944.

After the Pacific war ended in August 1945, the Australian Government commenced a largely secret enquiry into the fate of these missing civilians. In June 1947 it was discovered that all the Kavieng internees had been secretly murdered by their captors because the Japanese had assumed Kavieng was shortly to be invaded by US Marines. Unknown to them, the US invasion of Kavieng had been suddenly cancelled by the US high command at the last moment and replaced with a diversionary naval bombardment. After the defeat of Japan, the Japanese naval officers responsible for the Kavieng massacre elaborately concealed their embarrassing crime to mislead Australian investigations. This concealment was successful and delayed revelation of the truth until 1947.

The war, the people, the crime, the cover-up, and finally the truth.

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In the Mouth of the Tiger

In the Mouth of the Tiger is a novel that is very personal to authors Derek Emerson-Elliott and military historian Lynette Silver. It is based on real people and events and the central character is based on Derek’s own father, Denis Emerson-Elliott, who worked for British intelligence before, during and after the Second World War. He is also the MI6 spy that Lynette Silver met on Central Railway station in Sydney, one wet winter’s day in 1996 and is referred to in her book Deadly Secrets.

In the Mouth of the Tiger
is an amazing story of love, mystery and intrigue. At the time of the story, Britain ruled the whole of the Malayan Peninsula as part of her Empire. Security Intelligence Far East (SIFE) was a special British Intelligence organisation set up in Singapore to combat the spread of Communism. It comprised agents from both MI5 and MI6.

The book is also a love story between Derek’s father and his mother, Nona Orlov, a very beautiful young White Russian, the heroine of the story and her early life was as depicted in the book and their family home was Whitelawns, near Changi. In real life, Nona (Norma Emerson-Elliot) died tragically young. Derek and his brother and sister never knew their mother was Russian until after her death.

The final scenes in the story are pure fiction but the setting for these events are based on facts. The Emerson-Elliotts did live at Almer Manor, Dorset, in 1949, where they entertained senior intelligence personalities including Ian Fleming and Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, their neighbour (Fleming cheekily borrowed Drax’s name for the villain of the James Bond novel Moonraker).

Denis Emerson-Elliott was a most engaging figure. There has been much speculation over the years on the identity of the wartime naval intelligence officer, on whom Fleming is said to have based his famous character James Bond.

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Deadly Secrets – The Singapore Raids 1942-45

In February 1942, when Australian Bill Reynolds escaped from beleaguered Singapore in a battered Japanese fishing boat, he had no idea that his nondescript vessel would be the catalyst for Operation Jaywick, one of the most daring missions undertaken behind enemy lines in World War II. Using Reynold’s boat, now renamed Krait, a small band of intrepid men attacked enemy shipping in Singapore Harbour – an action that would have far reaching and tragic repercussions on the people of Singapore. The following year, members of the same team embarked upon a second and far more ambitious raid, Operation Rimau. Although this mission was partially successful, every member of the party was killed.

In telling the story of both these raids, author Lynette Silver reveals a number of deadly secrets, and gives an insight into the world of covert operations, partly through the eyes of Denis Emerson-Elliott, a British secret service agent closely associated with both missions. She also lays to rest a number of myths which have arisen in the sixty-five years since the Singapore raids took place. Some are the result of assumptions, based on too little knowledge, others were spawned by rumour. In some cases they were deliberate fabrications, either to make up for lack of information or to present a particular spin. Once film-makers stepped in, the distortions increased in the name of dramatic licence. One widely circulated story claimed that the greatest contribution of the Jaywick mission (classified as top secret until after the war), was to raise the spirits of the Australian public at a time when Allied victories were few and far between. A sobering aspect of many of the special operations carried out by Australian forces during World War II is that many fine men who volunteered for hazardous service died while carrying out missions that were politically, rather than militarily, motivated. Even more sobering is the fact that on the Australian army’s post-war assessment, many of these operations, including Jaywick and Rimau, achieved nothing but death, misery and suffering.

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Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW

Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW has been compiled from a personal chronicle begun by Billy Young throughout the 1970s, supplemented by hundreds of conversations that Lynette and Billy have shared in the course of their close friendship spanning more than two decades. It is the only first-hand published account by an ordinary soldier imprisoned by the Japanese at the infamous Sandakan POW Camp, and one of only three books by a survivor at the Kempeitai’s equally notorious Outram Road Gaol.
Billy is now the only soldier left alive from Sandakan, and the only Australian prisoner still alive from Outram Road.

Billy’s close friend, historian and author Lynette Silver, provides historical details gleaned from thirty years of researching and writing about events that Billy experienced first hand. Throughout, Billy gives his unique narrative, immerse in vibrancy and life as he takes the reader on a very personal journey. Through the eyes of a tearaway teenaged soldier, Billy shares his thoughts and experiences, some of which have never before been revealed – secrets that he has kept even from his closest family.

Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW also includes short poems written by Billy, along with his drawings and paintings depicting events that occurred during his time as a POW. These are the only visual records in existence.

This book is his memorial to all those who died in Borneo and in Outram Road Gaol.

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Angels of Mercy: Far West & Far East

In the 1930s, Marjorie Silver was employed by The Far West Children’s Health Scheme and became their first permanent flying sister, based in Bourke. She fought a single-handed war against heat, dust and isolation of the outback to bring vital medical assistance to the far west of New South Wales, before moving on to central Queensland where she established a clinic at Mt Margaret station, in close co-operation with the flying doctor, based at Charleville. In 1964, she moved to Brunette Downs, Northern Territory, where she continued to make use of her nursing skills at the Aboriginal Camp and in the station’s hospital. This previously untold story also involves the topical Nancy Bird, who was employed as the sister’s pilot for the first nine months.

Whilst Sister Silver was fighting a battle against the harsh elements of the bush, another dedicated woman of about the same age had graduated as a nursing sister with a view to overseas travel. Little did she know that she would shortly embark on a sea voyage to the exotic Far East, where she would engage in a battle for survival as an unwilling guest of the Emperor of Japan. Sister Pat Gunther joined the AIF and served in the Far East on the battlefield of Malaya and Singapore. She was captured and taken prisoner at Bangka Island, Sumatra. The story of the nurses imprisoned in various camps in Sumatra is not unknown, but this book delves far deeper than any other story to date and reveals the ‘secret’ that the nurses kept throughout their lifetimes. Author and military historian Lynette Ramsay Silver has an entire ‘forensic’ chapter devoted to the unravelling of this secret.

This book has been compiled from their edited memoirs, supplemented by various conversations and interviews. Interspersed throughout the book and printed in italics, are Lynette Ramsay Silver’s historical details providing additional narrative to compliment first-hand accounts.
The book also lists, for the first time, the name of every nurse who served in WW2. It also includes the fate of other internees that Sister Pat had met in Malaya and during her three years of captivity and the fate of the nurses evacuated from Singapore. It also includes the 29 women that served as doctors in the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War 2, as well as the names of the women who served as nursing sisters in the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Airforce, Australian Army Nursing Service and the Army Hospital.

Angels of Mercy: Far West & Far East is a tribute to the huge contributions made by our nurses in the Australian Outback, and to those who served during wartime.

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