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White Coolies

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  13 reviews
An account of the true story which inspired the film Paradise Road

It is October 1942. From the doorway of this small three-roomed cottage, which houses thirty-two of us, we look out beyond to a steaming jungle in Sumatra..

In 1942 a group of sixty-five Australian Army nursing sisters was evacuated from Malaya a few days before the fall of Singpaore. Two days later their s
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Published January 1st 2004 by Bolinda Publishing (first published 1965)
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John
My edition is from 1957 and has a very politically incorrect cover.

It is the story of a group of Australian Army Nursing Sisters and others who were captured by th Japanese in WW2 and held on Sumatra. Terrible conditions and many of them died but it was amazing the things they did to maintain the resemblance of a normal life.
Coralie
This was a book given to me by my Mother...Her friend (Sister ) P.B.(Blanche) Hempstead was a White Coolie and died as a POW. She is mentioned in the book.
This book is a remarkable story of cruelty, courage, perseverance, and strength of spirit. In spite of all the difficulty, deprivation and terrible conditions, there is also humour in the story, which is only to be expected from we Australians.
Sixty-five Australian Army nurses were hastily evacuated from Malaya in 1942, prior to the fall of
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Bronwyn Mcloughlin
This is a raw story, reflecting the bitterness and animosity of captives for their captors through the long years of WWII after the fall of Singapore. Two cultures with little understanding and much misunderstanding forced into an uncompromising situation - each despising the other. There are times of joy and happiness in the little joys of pow life - fresh chooks in a stew, an uplifting choir performance, a birthday celebration. But the deprivations, illness, torture, starvation and inhumanity ...more
Helen-Louise
Amazing how Miss Jeffrey could keep her spirits up the way she did. I suppose she only wrote in her diary when she could keep that "stiff upper lip." I read this book comparing the experiences of these Australian Army Nurse Corps nurses with the experiences of the American military nurses who were POWs at Santo Tomas in the Philippines. Both groups had it rough, the women in each group came home weighing less than 100 pounds, both were treated as civilian internees, not military POWs. Apparently ...more
Helen
I lucked into television last night and saw a movie called Paradise Road which at the time I thought was very similar to one of my favourite books as a teenager called "White Coolies". No doubt the names is no longer politically correct! The movie was very good but I am not sure that it followed the book exactly. Specifically, I cannot remember the forming of the choir. This book has travelled with me through thick and thin in life and currently lives on my bookshelf along with my other cherishe ...more
Leah Anderson
Really good read! Worth a read to know what the nurses captured in the war went through. In just one camp-about 60 went in and and only about 23 came out. Young ones too didn't make it. It was told by a nurse with a diary sewn in her pillow- amazing!
Miss B
This was an excellent read. I felt so connected to these women, the writing style of the book made me feel that I could feel what they were feeling. The fact that it was a true story made it even more powerful to me.
Ange
I haven't read this for many years, but I read it numerous times as a teenager. White Coolies is absolutely compelling reading.
Lorna
Extraordinary story of survival, told in very mater-of-fact way. These women were so admirable.
Amanda Hanrahan
This book broke my heart, bless all of those wonderful women <3
Jennifer
A moving diary of 3 years as an internee in Sumatra during WW2. An amazing group of women.
Yael
I am surprised by the high marks this book received. The events described were difficult and sad. But I did not see any personal growth or great insight from the author's experiences. I was offended by the language she used to describe her captors, and was bored by the long minuscule descriptions of life as a POW. I am not diminishing her experiences or her determination to survive, but I feel the writing was a disappointment.
Juliet
Read for class HIST2078 - In the Firing Line: Australians At War
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Agnes Betty Jeffrey, OAM was a nurse in the 2/10th Australian General Hospital during World War II. She was taken captive by the Japanese Imperial Army and interned in the Dutch East Indies. Her memoir, White Coolies, inspired the film Paradise Road.
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