Sketch by Jack Chalker

The Quest

Searching for Yashata

I am sincerely grateful to Ron Taylor and proud to have produced the story of MISTER SAM.

For over forty years I had pestered Sam to record his prisoner-of-war experiences.  As a writer, it was the most difficult story I have ever had to convey.  Many were the tears of frustration we shed in the recording, but many too were the laughs we had along the way.  And maybe, just maybe, if this story serves to put your problems in true perspective – or even raise a smile – then the thousands of hours of probing and writing will have been worthwhile.

My Uncle Sam died of Alzheimer’s Disease in May 1999, shortly after our closing chapter.  The disease has no respect – even for Heroes.

Even though ten years have passed since closing the book as an heirloom to Sam’s family – I somehow feel that the story does not have a proper ending.  It is similar to an artist uncertain of when to put the last dab of paint on his canvas – before wiping his brush clean.  There is always some doubt – something left untold...  A little niggle that eats away at us until it manifests itself into another painting or story nourished by the question – What if?

The fate of Yashata remains a mystery.  Even his name is an enigma.  Sam referred to him as ‘Yashata’, but it may have been Yashita, or even Yoshida.  He visited the camps with an interpreter with his motorbike and sidecar.  Always, he brought extra food for the football teams and helped sanction international matches in the camps.  This was a great morale booster for the prisoners as indeed were the lectures and shows put on to entertain everyone.

I have corresponded with people as far away as Australia and New Zealand in my quest to resolve the mystery of Yashata but to no avail.  Perhaps, just perhaps, someone may know:

  • his name?
  • his rank?
  • his fate after the capitulation?
  • if he’s still alive?
  • does he have a family etc.

I would love to be able to send a copy of MISTER SAM to Yashata’s family/relatives as a token of respect for the generosity shown to so many of Sam’s fellow prisoners. 

Without the common denominator FOOTBALL – perhaps the fate of many prisoners would have been different.  For certain, I would not have written this story.



Life is only memories,

For solace when we’re old.

Treasure them,

Cherish them,

Their worth

Is more

Than Gold


Ray Watson





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[Mister Sam] [Kick Off] [Nurse Sam Purvis] [Skipper of the 197th] [SS Washington] [Empress of Asia] [Singapore] [Singapore Hospital] [Road to Changi] [Welcome to Changi] [Shanty Town] [Selerang] [A Good Jap] [Walking Dead] [Kranji] [Timberyard] [The Last Post] [Setting of Rising Sun] [Acknowledgement] [The Last Laugh] [The Quest]


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