From tracks to screen, Railway Man's life journey goes on display

Dorset Echo: Eric Lomax and his interrogator, interpreter Takashi Nagase, immortalised in the film The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth Eric Lomax and his interrogator, interpreter Takashi Nagase, immortalised in the film The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth

THE recently-released film The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is a dramatisation of the life of Eric Lomax who was an officer in the Royal Corps of Signals throughout the Second World War.

Patti Lomax, his widow, will be visiting the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford to open the new Railway Man display, part of the museum’s Second World War exhibition.

Patti was played by Nicole Kidman in the newly released film. With Patti will be Andy Paterson, producer and scriptwriter of this powerful and evocative film version of the story.

Lomax was captured by the Japanese early in 1942 following the surrender of Singapore. For the next three-and-a-half years, he had to endure conditions of almost unbelievable cruelty and neglect.

After his capture, Lomax was taken 1,200 miles to work on the notorious 300 mile Burma-Siam ‘death railway’. The Japanese guards discovered a secret radio, used to keep the PoWs in touch with events in the outside world.

Lomax was considered one of the ringleaders and was brutally beaten, tortured and interrogated over a period of several weeks. He was then sent to Outram Road which, in Lomax’s own words ‘was a place in which the living were turned into ghosts, starved, diseased creatures wasted down to their skeletal outlines’.

After the war Lomax found the transition into civilian life difficult and suffered what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a long struggle and with considerable support from those who cared for him he came to terms with what had happened.

In 1995 he published an account of his experiences in the award-winning book The Railway Man.

Featuring items loaned by Patti Lomax, as well as Finlason’s original documentary, this new display at the Royal Signals Museum tells the real story of Eric Lomax, the brutality he suffered at the hands of the Japanese in a PoW Camp and his meeting over 50 years later with his hated enemy, interpreter Takashi Nagase, filmed exclusively at the time by film maker Mike Finlason.

The display includes illustrations of the conditions in Changi prison of war camp, from the drawings of artist and satirical cartoonist Ronald Searle, who was imprisoned there at the same time.

These are reproduced with kind permission of The Ronald Searle Cultural Trust and The Sayle Literary Agency.

The exhibition can be seen at the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford until the end of the year.

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