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A unique insight into the world of a POW

KIND GESTURE: Kerry Gill shows the book he has donated to the Maclean High School.
KIND GESTURE: Kerry Gill shows the book he has donated to the Maclean High School.

BY ADRIAN MILLER

FORTUNATELY, most of us will never know what it's like to be a prisoner of war.

But now, thanks to a donation to Maclean High School, students will have the opportunity to garner a better understanding of the horrors experienced by POWs.

Lake Wooloweyah resident Kerry Gill has donated a book, From Redgums to Bamboo, to the school detailing the time in captivity of his uncle, Aussie Gill, and his best mate, Ted McGrath.

Written by McGrath's niece, Mary Jahne, the book charts the military career of Mr McGrath and his fellow diggers, and draws largely from a diary kept by Aussie Gill while in Changi prison.

Had he been caught with the diary, he would have been beheaded.

Mr Gill said the book came about because of a desire for Mrs Jahne to learn more about her uncle, and what he had been through during the war.

"She ... unlike me, never got to know her uncle. He died in Changi," Mr Gill said.

"She wanted to find out what happened, so she started doing some research, which led her to my uncle Aussie and a few of his mates who all enlisted together."

Mr Gill said the importance of the book could not be underestimated because it provided first-hand accounts of the suffering and endurance of the prisoners.

"It's very important, not only for our families, but for people to know the atrocious conditions they suffered," Mr Gill said.



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