The Railway Man

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He had been courting her in their native Edinburgh prior to leaving for the war in Eric and Nan got engaged the night before he left.


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Following his capture by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in , Nan waited for three-and-a-half years not knowing whether he was alive or dead. After the war, they were together for 37 years and shared three children: Linda May Lomax born December 14, , died December 13, , Eric Lomax Jr. In his book, Eric refers to Nan merely as "S. While riding on a train to Glasgow in , the real Eric Lomax met the then year-old Canadian nurse Patricia "Patti" Wallace, who was seventeen years his junior and back in Britain visiting her mother, sister and some close friends.

A fondness for one another developed and in , Patti left Canada for the United Kingdom, her place of birth. Soon after, Eric officially ended his marriage with Nan and married Patti in Dad had made life very tough for her: Mum deserved better. The real Eric and Patti Lomax share a moment of happiness together right.

In his book, Eric states that Patti, portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the movie, had been in a marriage that was as reduced as his own. She had grown up in England where she became a nurse, but she moved to Canada after marrying her first husband who was part of the Canadian air force. Eric and Patti were "both living rootless and not altogether happy lives. In researching The Railway Man true story, we learned that not only did Eric Lomax have to deal with his physical and emotional scars from the war, he also had to face the reality that while he was a prisoner of war, his mother had died and his father had remarried, leaving Eric without a place to call home.

The real Eric Lomax with his daughter Charmaine in the late s. Charmaine inset at the movie premiere , her sister, and mother were left out of the film.

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Eric went to work for the Colonial Office and he was posted to West Africa to help construct a mile railway traversing what is today Ghana. His first wife Nan and their daughter Linda went with him. While there, his son Eric Jr. The family returned from Africa in , and Eric went on to work as a lecturer at Strathclyde University.


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  5. An emotional chasm had developed in his marriage. Eric became distant and he struggled with meeting the demands of daily life, including paying the bills. To make matters worse, his daughter Linda had a brain hemorrhage when she was Linda recovered but was faced with lasting complications, which eventually claimed her life in at the age of Not entirely. In his book, Eric describes petty feuds and vendettas that were ongoing between his first wife's family, which began immediately following their wedding in I had felt less morbid vindictiveness towards the Japanese guards in Changi than these seemingly normal Scottish middle-class people were displaying to their own blood relatives.

    The railway man

    Marriage can be like incarceration without a key, as I was beginning to find out. Eric's daughters, Linda and Charmaine, cut off contact with him after he left their mother. Charmaine didn't see her father again until her sister Linda died in at the age of She suddenly found herself standing between her mother and father at Linda's graveside. Following the funeral, Eric asked her if she'd meet him sometimes for a cup of tea.

    She began to see him every year and a half or so, and more often after her mother died in However, Charmaine says that their time together was not easy since he still never talked about his feelings, but she's glad that they were at least in touch. She doesn't blame the movie's screenwriter, Frank Cottrell Boyce.

    She says that it goes back to her father, who had left them out of his book. Though it is at times hard to watch, the Japanese army's treatment of the POWs who worked on the Burma-Siam railway is accurately portrayed in the movie. Years of schooling had indoctrinated young Japanese men with the notion of Emperor worship, and their training to become soldiers in their native country was based on brutality.

    The soldiers were also taught to fight with relentless ferocity as part of the Japanese counter-insurgency against Mao Tse-tung's forces.

    The Railway Man

    All of these factors played a part in creating soldiers who could carry out the most cruel acts of torture without a second thought. Many Americans believed Lean's film to be true and perhaps slept better because they were left with a false picture of POW life, one that ignored the unspeakable horrors that the POWs had endured in the hands of the Japanese. By the time the war ended, Eric himself weighed only pounds, roughly 60 pounds less than his average, pre-war weight. In all, of the more than 60, Allied troops captured by the Japanese, approximately 12, prisoners died VancouverSun.

    The radio was discovered by the Japanese in August As punishment, Eric and his six comrades were first forced to stand out in the searing heat for hours without water or food. Then the Japanese soldiers stomped on them and beat them unconscious with pickaxe handles. Two of the POWs did not survive. For Eric, the punishment for the radio did not end there.


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    6. He was left lying on the ground for two days. His ribs were cracked and his arms and hips were broken. The Japanese then subjected him to more interrogation and torture. They kept him in a coffin-sized cage for hours at a time. Eric was found guilty of "anti-Japanese activities" and was sentenced to five years hard labor. He was transported to a disease infested jail, where he spent the rest of the war. Eric Lomax's second wife Patricia "Patti" Wallace, portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the film, encouraged him to seek help for his nightmares, rages and feelings of isolation The Railway Man book.

      She told him that she was going to leave him if he did not seek help. The poem is an Eric Lomax original. In the annoying framing device that flashes back and forth in time far too frequently, we see Lomax and Patti meet cute on a train. The year is in Northern England. He is nerdy, tweedy, hurried. She is prim, sharp, poised.

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      Both are in flux and clearly a little fragile. As they wind their way along the English and Scottish coast, he drops little tidbits about various train lines and trivia on the towns that blur past them. Individually lonely, alone and adrift, they fall in love and get married in no time. But on what should be the happiest day of his life, Lomax is haunted by nightmarish memories of the brutality he endured as a POW—a condition we now know as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

      Flashing back in time, Lomax played by Jeremy Irvine as a younger man recalls being taken into custody after the fall of Singapore in There, he and the other soldiers were forced into slave labor, working on the Burma-Siam "Death Railway," as it became known. Being smart and clever, Lomax became a target of his sadistic Japanese captors, who are all depicted as one-dimensionally evil. This included being beaten, kicked, waterboarded and locked up in a bamboo cage the size of a large dog crate.

      Teplitzky depicts it all in an artfully staged and lighted fashion. One Japanese officer in particular, the translator Nagase Tanroh Ishida , arbitrarily reveled in finding new accusations against Lomax and overseeing his destruction. But unlike the many other men who suffered beside him, Lomax somehow managed to survive. So when he learns nearly 40 years later that Nagase also is alive, and has turned the camp where he helped torture all those men into a war museum, Lomax knows he must return to Southeast Asia to confront his demons, both literally and figuratively.