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From the Blitz to the Burmese Jungle and Beyond: A Memoir by Brian Hennessy

Updated: Apr 20


As reviewed on The Cafe, TV3!



From the Blitz to the Burmese Jungle and Beyond is a captivating World War II memoir. Brian Hennessy was born in Germany to English parents, and he was seventeen years old and living in London when war broke out. He experienced the Blitz first-hand as his role as a volunteer ‘roof-spotter’, trying to establish if the planes flying over were German or English. When he was old enough, Brian joined the British Army. That’s when the adventure-travel story really begins!


Brian journeyed via South Africa to India initially. He was a very talented engineer, and he was in charge a team of people maintaining the instruments for 26,000 troops. So that is things like rifle sights, compasses and binoculars, things that make the difference between life and death if not accurate. From India he was posted to Burma and he travelled through the remote jungles, mostly behind the front lines but sometimes he got caught up in the fighting. Danger was always present, but his memoir reveals Brian’s love of nature and his interactions with the local people – stories that are sometimes humorous, at other times poignant.


The adventures didn't stop at the end of the war, either. Brian took advantage of the chaos at the time, and he boarded a ship and went to Japan. There he saw first-hand the devastation at Hiroshima. And he spoke with many Japanese locals before finally making his way back to England. Not long after that he immigrated to New Zealand and lived here until his death aged ninety-two, but he never forgot his extraordinary war adventures. It's really special that his story lives on.


Reviewer: Iain McKenzie

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