This book is a biography of Cyril Wild, a British Army officer whose fluent command of the Japanese language led to his being a significant figure in the history of Singapore during the Second World War.
On 15th February 1942 Wild walked beside Lt-General Percival, carrying the white flag when Singapore surrendered to the Japanese and was later the official British interpreter when the Crown Colony was officially handed over to General Yamshita. Wild was again present nearly four years later in 1945, when Japanese General Itagaki unconditionally surrendered to Lord Louis Mountbatten.
In the intervening years, Wild, along with thousands of other British servicemen, had been a prisoner of war, during which time they were subjected to brutal mistreatment by the Japanese.
Whilst in captivity Wild used his Japanese language skills to great effect, frequently interceding on behalf of his fellow POWs, indeed so tireless were his efforts that the Japanese referred to him nemuranai se no takai otoko ‘the tall man who never slept’.
But the horrors he had witnessed made Wild determined to bring his former captives to justice when the war was over, when once again his ability to speak Japanese was a valuable asset, allowing him to interrogate an number of high ranking Japanese officers prior to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals, at which he was a key witness. He was actively engaged in this work when, in 1946, he was killed in an air crash which many believe was no accident.
The whole of Cyril Wild’s remarkable story is told in full in this detailed biography by James Bradley, who was a POW alongside Wild during the building of the infamous Burma-Siam railway.