Brought up in a rural vicarage surrounded by fells, falcons and ferrets, Freddy Spencer Chapman acquired a deep love of nature and became ‘fascinated by danger’ during childhood. Thirty years later, as an SOE-trained guerrilla soldier of exceptional ability and courage, the orphan boy would prove to be one of the British army’s deadliest agents. In 1941 Chapman was dispatched to Singapore to train British guerrillas for the coming war with Japan. Setting out from Kuala Lumpur on 7 January 1942 on a mission to sabotage Japanese supply lines, he became a veritable one-man army. The Japanese deployed 2,000 men to search for what they believed was a squad of 200 Australian guerrillas. Following Japan’s invasion of Malaya and the fall of Singapore in February 1942, Chapman found himself stranded. Under these most desperate of circumstances, the man dubbed the ‘the jungle Lawrence’ by Field Marshal Wavell showed his bloody-minded talent for survival. Relentlessly hunted by the Japanese army, he was afflicted by typhus, scabies, pneumonia, blackwater fever, cerebral malaria, dengue fever and ulcers before finally being rescued and evacuated to Ceylon on 13 May 1945. Chapman returned to Malaya by parachute in August to take the Japanese surrender at Penang. Jungle Soldier is a unique and remarkable account of superhuman bravery and resourcefulness in adversity.
About the Author
Brian Moynahan was an award-winning foreign correspondent and European editor with the Sunday Times. His many books include The Faith: A History of Christianity, The Russian Century, Comrades, The Claws of the Bear, Rasputin. Forgotten Soldiers, his first book for Quercus, was published in 2007.