A FOREST Lake man who survived more than three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps and lived to tell the tale has launched a book about his experience.
Digger's Story was launched on Saturday, but sadly the 90-year-old suffered a stroke and died a week before his novel hit store shelves.
It was David's wish to see his book in the libraries of every Brisbane high school to enrich students' knowledge of Australian history.
Friend and co-author Brian Robertson has now made it his task to try and make this a reality in David's honour.
"He had a great ambition to have the book in the schools," Mr Robertson said.
"The profits from the books sold at the book launch at The Nook (last Saturday) are going towards David's expenses to put one book into every Brisbane high school. That's really what he wanted."
Mr Robertson said David believed passionately about the lack of knowledge of Australian history in schools.
Now the book's publisher Five Mile Press and Mr Robertson are hoping to release a more succinct version of David's story for primary school libraries.
The pair first met at a Forest Lake retirement village almost four years ago when they began sketching out the book.
David was a wide-eyed 18-year-old, who lied about his age claiming he was 20, when he was enlisted as a private and served in World War II.
In 1941 he eagerly went to Malaya, but ended up as a prisoner of war in Changi prison at 19 years of age.
He was beaten, starved and humiliated, spending a year-and-a-half in Changi, a year at Kanchanaburi building the Thai-Burma railway and six months in another camp in Thailand where he served as a medical orderly.
"David was the medical orderly for 200 people and had to perform amputations and other extreme medical procedures," Mr Robertson said.
"He wasn't a doctor, he was a private.
"They used to get beaten up because they didn't do what they were told, because they didn't understand the foreign language. Most of them accepted that, laid down and they died.
"David and his mates set out to learn the language.
"They learned to say a lot of things like 'I don't understand' and 'thank you' and it saved them from a lot of beatings."
It took David more than 50 years to rid his mind of the hate he had for the Imperial Japanese Army.
"He was always thinking about it, he suffered post traumatic stress disorder,' Mr Robertson said.
"The war never finished for him in 1945."
In 1986, David started the Australian Reparations Committee with an objective to sue Japan for compensation over the treatment he and other POWs endured.
"But of course at the time Australia didn't want to do anything because Japan was one of our biggest trading partners," Mr Robertson said.
"David didn't think it was the responsibility of the Australian Government and was determined to do it on his own.
"He was successful in that in 2001, every Australian ex-prisoner of war in Japan or their widow received 25,000, but they got it from the Australian Government."
Digger's Story can be purchased from any major bookstore.