Ray Parkin's Wartime Trilogy: Out of the Smoke/into the Smother/the Sword and the Blossom

These brilliant books hum with action, adventure and courage. Honestly and plainly written, they are full of humanity and great wisdom. Out of the Smoke tells of Ray s experiences as Action Chief Quartermaster in HMAS Perth, which was sunk while engaging an overwhelming Japanese naval force in the Sunda Strait. Two cruisers, HMAS Perth and USS Houston, fought until their ammunition was exhausted. Thus defenceless and surrounded, sunk by four torpedoes and gunfire. It had been a night action, desperate and determined until the inevitable end. A small party of the survivors tried to sail a derelict lifeboat to safety, only to land at a port in enemy hands. In his Introduction to the book, Sir Laurens van der Post describes Out of the Smoke as one of the great stories of war at sea . Into the Smother tells, direct from the author s diary, of his fifteen months as a POW on the Burma Siam railway. The construction of this railway remains one of history s most awful instances of man s inhumanity to man. Ray documents with remarkable restraint the horrors and sufferings he and his comrades endured at the mercy of the cruel jungle and the Imperial Japane