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The Witness

The fighting had ended but for Sandakan's most notorious prisoner the war was not over

Tom Gilling

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Allen & Unwin
01 August 2022
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'That bastard's still alive? I'm going to kill him with my bare hands.' POW Bill Moxham

At the Australian war crimes trials that followed World War II, one prosecution witness stood out: Warrant Officer Bill Sticpewich.

During his three years in the infamous Sandakan POW camp, Sticpewich had seen hundreds of fellow prisoners die of starvation, sickness and overwork. Others were shot or bayoneted to death by Japanese guards on forced marches through the Borneo jungle. Of more than 2400 Allied prisoners at Sandakan at the start of 1945, only six survived. It was Sticpewich's meticulous evidence that sent Sandakan's commandant and his murderous henchmen to the gallows.

But to his fellow prisoners Sticpewich was not a war hero, he was a collaborator who avoided heavy labour and obtained extra rations by ingratiating himself with the Japanese.

Was Sticpewich a traitor or a man who did what he needed to stay alive? Drawing on wartime records, original interviews and the recollections of other survivors, The Witness reveals the compelling story of Australia's most notorious POW.
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   442g
ISBN:   9781760879273
ISBN 10:   1760879274
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Tom Gilling is an acclaimed novelist. The Sooterkin, Miles McGinty and Dreamland have all been published in Australia, as well as London and New York. He is co-author with Clive Small of the highly successful Smack Express, Blood Money, Evil Life and The Dark Side. His most recent books are the well received The Lost Battalions and Bastard Behind the Lines.

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