Club Cowra

Cowra POW Camp Book Released

Written by: The Cowra Phoenix

IMAGE:The cover of ‘The Cowra Breakout’.

Central West author Mat McLachlan has released a book depicting the history and personal stories from the Cowra Breakout, in what is the first account of its kind of the event in over 40 years. The book, titled The Cowra Breakout, focuses on the history of the event, the perspective of the Japanese soldiers, and the intentions of the breakout, and features personal accounts of those in-volved, including Japanese fighter pilot Hajime Toyoshima and Lieutenant Harry Doncaster, an Australian victim of the Breakout.

Mr McLachlan released his book on July 27, in the lead up to this year’s Cowra Breakout anniversary.

He has also ran his own war location tour company, Matt McLachlan Battlefield Tours, for the last 15 years, and will be running a tour to Cowra in October. He said he wrote the book as he had always had a keen interest in war his-tory since he was a child, and although he had the idea of the book for a long time, COVID gave him the time to write and publish it.

“It became a COVID project, and because I was unable to run my tours, I started working on the book,” he said. “I grew up in West Wyalong and my grandparents told me stories of the Cowra Breakout, and when I was 10 years old my dad took my on a trip to Cowra, and since then I’ve had a great interest in the Cowra Breakout and war history.” “This is what lead to me starting ,my business and writing the book.”

Mr McLachlan said he focused his book on personal stories to help read-ers understand the events of the Cowra Breakout “clearer”.

He said he used multiple resources to access as many personal accounts of the day as possible, including the resources of author Harry Gordon, who wrote a book on the Cowra Breakout in the 1960s, with his family giving Mr McLachlan access to his archives at the National Library.

This included letters sent to Mr Gordon from families connected to the Cowra Breakout after he released his book. He said the Cowra Breakout Association also assisted him with some accounts of survivors, and the Cowra Tourism Corporation provided him with information from interviews it conducted in the 1990s.

The book also depicts the story of Tom Hancock from Blayney, who was tasked with guarding Blayney in the aftermath of the Cowra Breakout.

He was killed by accidental friendly fire, and while his death is not recognised as being a part of the Cowra Breakout, Mr McLachlan said he is petitioning the Australian War Memorial to formally recognise him as the 5th Australian casu-alty of the Cowra Breakout.

The book is available online from most major book retailers.

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