"Stoker Munro Survivor" by David Spiteri
‘The Japanese commandant came out to address us; he told us we were going to heaven. I thought, I’ll know the difference, as I’ve already been to hell.’
Stoker Munro was only seventeen when he went to war. Over the next few years he survived the unimaginable, including the sinking of the HMAS Perth in 1942, imprisonment in Changi and the living hell of the Thai- Burma Railway. The atrocities and deprivation came thick and fast, yet Stoker, like lots of men of his generation, was a bloke not given to talking about his experiences.
Over time, local writer, David Spiteri persuaded Stoker to tell his story. A former sailor himself, they had shared a few stories and drinks at the local club for over twenty five years, yet David had no idea of Stoker’s extraordinary history until a mutual friend mentioned it.
What becomes obvious in the telling of Stoker’s story is that through all the horror; firm friendships, loyalty to mates and humour became the tools of resilience for this generation of men.
In a tale, simply told, David Spiteri invokes another world and another time. Stoker Munro was a boy who went to war and returned a hero, although he certainly didn’t consider himself to be one. By recording Stoker’s story, David has added another dimension to our understanding of the trauma of war.
By Lea Wilson
– The Book Warehouse, Lismore
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