The Forgotten Highlander details the experiences of an ordinary young Scottish man drafted into Britain’s army, shipped off to Singapore, captured, enslaved before returning home to be mistreated and disrespected by the same British army that sent him away to war. I found this autobiography both a harrowing read, but also uplifting – that a man could endure so much cruelty yet not lose his own humanity.
Urquhart was shipped off from his homeland to defend Singapore, but the British army’s arrogance was quickly and decisively swept aside by the invading Japanese military. Urquhart was captured and enslaved. He was just a young lad and his experiences are told in grim detail. Even the train journey was recounted in awful detail. He is put to work by the Japanese on the railroad and then on the bridge over the Kwai River. He and his comrades are starved and beaten and worked to near-death. Urquhart is shipped out to a recovery camp constructed to demonstrate to the Red Cross that Japan’s military was humane.
Next he escapes a sinking ship that was attacked by US aircraft. One of the few survivors, he was picked up by a fishing boat and handed back to the Japanese and put into another prisoner of war camp, this time near Nagasaki from where he experienced the nuclear bomb attack.
He ends by recounting his appalling treatment by the British army upon his return to the UK and the persistent/permanent effects on his physical nd mental health.
Despite all of this, he lived till his 90s which is why, ultimately, I found the book uplifting and why I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who likes to read non-fiction, autobiographies, and good conquering evil.