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Russell Braddon

Russell Braddon was part of the first wave of postwar Australian ‘expatriates’ who embedded themselves in British cultural life. He published memoirs, novels, and biographies. He wrote for newspapers. He was a regular guest on BBC radio, a presenter on television, always in demand on the lunch and dinner speaking circuit. He enjoyed the life of a popular and successful author for more than forty years. He was a showman with sound instincts and good intentions. Nigel Starck has written his biography with respect and affection.

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The Japanese tactics in today’s export war are identical with those they employed so successfully in 1941–42 against a bigger army than theirs in Malaya: they attack individual units ‘with surprise and with our strength concentrated’. This is one of the two leitmotifs of Russell Braddon’s book. The other is his notion of Japan’s ‘hundred years’ war’. During his years of captivity in Changi between 1942 and 1945, Braddon was told once by a Japanese officer: ‘This war will last a hundred years, Mr Braddon. I’m afraid you will never go home.’ Later, after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, when he was about to leave Changi, he passed a Japanese officer who was being escorted into the gaol. ‘In a spirit half of elation and half of spite I turned and shouted, “This war last one hundred years?” “Ninety-six years to go”, he called back; and neither of us bothered to bow.’

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