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Captured Behind Japanese Lines (Hardback)

With Wingate's Chindits – Burma 1942–1945

WWII Prisoners Of War Japan & the Pacific Front Military

By Daniel Berke
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399016889
Published: 4th October 2021

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'Never have I had greater respect for soldiers than those of the 14th Army who served under Bill Slim, and in particular those guys who were in the Chindit columns. They suffered hugely as they got inside enemy territory in the Burmese Jungle and as they fought against all odds; some surviving, some being captured and many dying.This book exemplifies the courage of the men who faced this ordeal.' -The Rt. Hon. Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP

No-one meeting Frank Berkovitch, a quiet, reserved tailor, could have guessed that he had served with the Chindits in Burma and suffered prolonged Japanese captivity. Yet not only had he fought as a Bren-gunner on Operation LONGCLOTH, their first deep penetration mission, but he was the legendary General Orde Wingate’s batman.

The Chindits were Wingate’s inspired idea and, while suffering heavy losses from enemy action and deprivation, they dispelled the myth that the Imperial Japanese Army Japanese was invincible. Outnumbered, outgunned, carrying 70lb packs and reliant on RAF air drops for supplies, the 3,000 men of the Chindit columns overcame harsh jungle terrain and climatic conditions to take the fight to the enemy behind their own lines.

They wreaked havoc with enemy communications and caused heavy enemy casualties while gathering vital intelligence. After months of malnutrition and disease and hunted by the vengeful Japanese, the survivors faced a desperate race to escape from Burma. Captured crossing the Irrawaddy river, Frank endured two years imprisonment at the hands of notoriously cruel captors.

Superbly researched, this inspiring book vividly describes the Chindits’ first operation and the hardship suffered by, and heroism of, Frank and his comrades, many who never returned.

Berke does a lot with very little in this moving book that is part history, part travelogue. He only had a few pages of memoir to work with but managed to integrate that into a broader narrative of Chindit operations that focuses on all the main themes.

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Beating Tsundoku

This will be a must-read for anyone interested in the Chindits during World War II and is a well-researched and well-written testimony to one man's war. That man was Frank Berkovitch, an unassuming tailor in civilian life, but a Chindit and General Orde Wingate's batman during those crucial years in Burme between 1942 and 1945.

Frank's war has been skilfully re-told by his grandson, Daniel Berke, and draws on the author's memories of his grandfather plus relevant surving documents and supporting evidence; a useful narrative about a brave body of men.

5 stars

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Paul Nixon

****
Review as featured in

Soldier

As featured in

Soldier

A fascinating book about Wingate’s Chindits in Burma, an area of World War Two it gets little attention and with that not much in the way of books, films and documentaries. Luckily though we have Pen & Sword to rely upon, I think I read a great book about the Chindits last year in one of their Images of War books.

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UK Historian

As featured in

The Jerusalem Post

To me, the Burma theatre of war is little known. In fact I even looked on YouTube for a visual on the history of the Chindits and saw footage of the conditions Orde Wingates men operated in.
Fearless men.....or so they appear. It is hard to image what Frank was feeling deep inside, as he gave nothing away in his almost sterile matter of fact memoir. Frank Berkovitch, was a quiet, reserved tailor and it is his story that is told by his grandson. From recruitment, training, action and capture.....all harrowing and everything bad you have ever heard about Japanese treatment of POW's.
Although limited by the short memoir from his grandfather, the author combines much research to give a more fleshed out look at the fullstory.
My grandfather was in WW1 and he never spoke of his action there. It was a sense of duty that made these young men enlist .....little did they realise their whole lives would be scarred in a deep way.....should they be lucky enough to return.
A riveting read, for male or female. Thank you for sharing such a precious family story Daniel.

NetGalley, Andrea Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In 1942, Major General Orde Wingate was organizing long-range guerrilla units to work behind the Japanese line in Burma. In one unit there was a soldier, a man called Frank Berkovitch would quietly distinguish himself in many small ways. This book is his story.

The book is written by Daniel Berke, Frank Berkovitch’s grandson. The original idea sprang from a short document written by Private Berkovitch many years after the war, and as the author had not pursued the opportunity to speak with his grandfather about the war (Frank Berkovitch had seemed reluctant to share what were horrific memories), Mr. Berke was restricted by the few pages of the wartime autobiography. Mr. Berke was able to find other sources, however, and his trip to Burma also helped to flesh out the book.

The end product is a story that will fascinate you at times and haunt you at others. The story of the Chindits (the name of Windate’s fighting unit) is interesting all by itself, and the continuation of the aftermath of “Operation Loincloth” offered other view of the bravery of Frank Berkevitch and the men he served with during WWII. Five stars.

NetGalley, Dee Arr

An important addition to military Family history.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

This book is chock-full of heroes, some famous like Orde Wingate and Mike Calvert. Others like Frank Berkovitch and thousands of 'ordinary Chindits" who served, most of them to die in Burma.
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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

WWII books hardly ever fail to awe and inspire me and this falls in that category. This read takes us to the Burmese Jungle and subjects us to the same terror and hardships the soldiers endured. Both a heartbreaking and inspiring read, these book will show you the worst and very best of humanity.

NetGalley, Sue Hawthorne

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A truly inspirational book about the hardships endured by a British soldier fighting in Burma in WW2. The hardships and cruelty he faced was extremely demoralizing, but he overcame to survive the interment and return home. A great read for the history buff.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

The author takes us to Burma and follows the steps of his Chindit grandfather. Together with his father, they tell an impressive story of Wingate's Chindits, their training, and their involvement behind enemy lines. If I have one drawback, it could have been explained better if maps were included. But none the less an enjoyable read.
Ronnie Taylor - FEPOW Family

Ronnie Taylor

About Daniel Berke

Daniel Berke is a solicitor specialising in criminal and regulatory law. He read Law with Politics and has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He has acted in numerous high-profile and complex legal matters throughout the Jurisdiction and has been interviewed in major news and current affairs broadcasts about his work and cases.


He holds a board position in a not for profit legal organisation, is a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps of the World Jewish Congress.


Daniel is also a trustee of an amateur boxing club and is a keen boxer (although his fighting days are behind him). Married with two children he is a passionate traveller, hiker and photographer and is happiest in wild places.


Captured Behind Japanese Lines is his first book, which he describes as a story which he felt compelled to tell.

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