• Remembrance 2015
    Published: Monday 09 November 2015 10:13:AM
    Author: Linda Dutton
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    St Mary’s Flower Group have once again provided a very thought provoking display for our Remembrance Service this year.

    The Theme was the end of the war in Japan and Burma. The main display was made possible by Mrs Gillian Summers who worships at St Peter’s. Gillian’s father Sir Philip Toosey was the real life colonel who built the Bridge over the River Kwai, and she lent us some of her personal artefacts such as nails from the railway and a telegram that was received from Prince Philip on the death of her father in 1975.

    Sir Philip was known to his men as ‘The Colonel’. He was an outstanding leader in the Japanese prisoner of war camps in Thailand from 1942-45. Over 12,000 Allied soldiers and some 73,000 Burmese, Malay and Tamil workers died during the construction of the railway.

    When the 1957 film ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, was released the former prisoners of war saw it as a wholly inaccurate portrayal of their plight and an insult to the memory of their ‘Colonel’. Initially Sir Philip refused to speak out about the film, being too modest to seek any glory. He was eventually persuaded to write a letter to the Daily Telegraph. Several years later Sir Philip agreed to be interviewed on the understanding that the interview would not be released until after his death.

    Sir Philip’s eldest granddaughter Julie Summers has written a book about her grandfather called ‘The Colonel of Tamarkan’ which was published in 2005.

    The Flower Group and members of Saint Mary’s would like to thank Gillian for the loan of her treasured items.