The Footballer who Survived the River Kwai Death Camps
By Johnny Sherwood
The extraordinary and moving story of professional footballer Johnny Sherwood's survival after being taken prisoner by the Japanese at the surrender of Singapore in World War 2.
In 1938 Johnny Sherwood was a young professional footballer on the brink of an England career, touring the world with the all-star British team the Islington Corinthians. By 1942 he was a soldier surrendering to the Japanese at the siege of Singapore. Taken prisoner he was sent to a POW camp deep in the heart of the Thai jungle, where he was starved, beaten, and forced to build the notorious 'railway of death' on the River Kwai.
Johnny kept his and his men's spirits up with tales of his footballing past, even organising matches until he and the other prisoners became too weak to play. One day, he even encountered a brutal Japanese guard, and was shocked to recognise him as a Japanese footballer Johnny had played against.
Many years after Johnny's death, his grandson Michael discovered an old manuscript hidden in the attic of his mother's house. It was Johnny's own account of his wartime experiences - the story too horrific to reveal in full to his loved ones. In the tradition of bestselling memoirs like The Railway Man, Lucky Johnny is an inspirational tale of survival against the odds.
Johnny Sherwood was one of eleven children, and played professional football for Islington Corinthians, Middlesbrough, Reading, Aldershot and Crystal Palace. During the war, he was a Sergeant in the Royal Artillery. Johnny suffered lifelong effects from his POW years, but nonetheless went on to become a pub landlord and successful bookie. He raised three children and was the proud grandfather of six grandchildren.
Michael Doe grew up in Reading and lived near his grandfather. He discovered his grandfather's manuscript hidden in the attic of his mother's house in 2013. Michael lives with his wife, step-son and newborn twins in the Wirral, Cheshire, where he runs his own business and continues the family tradition through his keen interest in football.
- Other details
- Publication date:
05 Jun 2014
- Page count:
Hodder & Stoughton