Rohan Rivett went with ‘A’ Force Burma from Singapore in 1942. He was one of 3,000 POWs who sailed from Singapore harbour firstly to west coast of Burma where they repaired/enlarged three aerodromes at Victoria Point, Tavoy and Mergui for several months. Their ships were crowded and conditions appalling.
Australian born Rivett was a journalist and the only British war corespondent taken POW. He was given the same privileges, wages as an officer. He did not actually physically work on the railway, however Rivett was there on the ‘front line’.
The following was written when the war had barely ended. Rivett’s words are raw and frank.
Only those who were there truly knew what it was like.
Rohan Rivett is author of ‘Behind Bamboo’ published in 1946 and one of the first written and published accounts of Allied POWs in Japanese hands. This book is now classified as an Australian
Rivett had joined the ‘Argus’ newspaper in Adelaide as a junior reporter before the outbreak of war. He enlisted in June 1940 and became a war correspondent in 1941. It was Rivett who read to the world from BBC Singapore, news of the Japanese landing in Singapore, Feb 1942.
He became an Australian POW of Japan.
After the war he reported in China for ‘Herald’ Melbourne in 1947, and from Britain from 1949-1951 before becoming editor-in-chief of the Adelaide Newspaper ‘The News’ from 1951 to 1960. In 1961 Rivett was appointed director of International Press Institute in Zurich for two years before returning to Australia.
‘Behind Bamboo’ is considered an Australian war classic and has been reprinted several times over.