Forged in Blood and Music
A story of friendship, courage, and survival.
(Published July 2020)
On the 27th of September 1942, 1,816 British prisoners of war embarked upon the Japanese transport ship, Lisbon Maru, to sail to Japan to be used as slave labour in Japanese industry. A week later, over half of them were dead, killed in a calculated act of murder by their Japanese military captors. Over the next two-and-a-half years, many more died as a result of torture, brutality, starvation, overwork, and the withholding of medical treatment.
Here is the story of just one of them, Lance Bombardier Joseph Denton, an ordinary man who found the courage and willpower to survive through extraordinary events. Much of Joe Denton’s captivity was played out as a volunteer medical orderly in the hospital at Kobe House POW camp, in a small room where the medical orderlies lived, slept, and worked caring for sick and dying prisoners of war. In those first few months of occupation, when around twenty percent of Kobe House’s share of the Lisbon Maru’s survivors choked, bled, vomited, starved, or simply faded along the passage from soldier to corpse, at times Denton must have felt like he was serving in a Charnel House rather than a hospital.
Joe Denton fought in the heroic battle to defend Hong Kong, survived the Lisbon Maru massacre, and served as a volunteer in Kobe House POW hospital, from the setting up until the final days of the war when a rain of Allied bombs destroyed the camp. But whether as a soldier, entertainer, medic, or simply a survivor, Denton played out the role that war assigned him with courage and determination. This book tells his story, and what an amazing, epic, and sometimes unenviable tale it makes.