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May 16 , 2008

Lost at Sea, Found at Fukushima


On a calm, tropical afternoon in the South Atlantic Ocean in April 1942, a British tramp steamer, the SS Willesden, was shelled, torpedoed and sunk by a German raider, the KMS Thor. The Willesden was carrying 47 officers and crew, and a cargo of vital war supplies destined for Britains 8th Army in North Africa. Five of Willesdens crew were killed in the attack. Among the survivors was Second Mate David Millar, whoalong with his crewmenwas rescued by the Germans and interned on a succession of prison ships, before being handed over to the Japanese. Badly wounded, David spent the rest of the war as a POW in a camp at Fukushima, north of Tokyo. Lost at Sea tells the little-known story of the 130 survivors, remarkably listed "Missing at Sea" for months and in some cases years. It is a tale of honour between enemy naval commanders; of suffering, courage and endurance, as months of imprisonment turned to years; and of the powerful relationships that form when people are forced together in life-threatening circumstances.

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