A soldier during the Second World War, Gerald Fitzpatrick had to fight his way out of burma and at one point he had to make an agonising decision, as he told to Neil Hudson
“In the deplorable condition in which we found ourselves and in the normal way of things, we would have had no reason whatsoever to enter a native habitation. However, there was an alert as we halted for a sparse meal and settled close by Taungtha, a most unusual village. It was a singular habitat, contained within a stockade, constructed from teak and trees and not an inch of space between them, somewhat similarly built to those seen in old time films of far West America, and with an entrance sufficient to accommodate only a bullock cart.
The general silence was broken as, in ones and twos, a few distraught sari clad Indian girls emerged from the narrow village entrance, each of them crying and in turn making a dash toward the north.
Taking Sgt Benny Mee and six men, I sealed the place and on entering the village saw the burning building (signal to Japanese), from which the girls were escaping. It was part of a temple of mosque and surrounded by a gathering of men. By dress and bearing the gathered group were easily recognisable as the recalcitrant oil men (none were wearing traditional Burmese lunghi). They were the ones who had harassed the European management, fired the Chauk bungalows and chided me with words, uttered so indiscreetly by Alexander. Apart from this gathering, there appeared to be no others in the village.
When rounded up, the former oil men were 27 in number and several of them limping badly... [they were] the ones responsible for wounding Gigger Lee, my corporal. The same group shot by me earlier in the Chauk oilfield, were to be denied any further attempt at disrupting our movements.”
The book is out now.