With wife’s support, former British POW ended ‘thirst for vengeance’/
Patricia Lomax recalls snuggling up to her husband after he groaned in his sleep and woke up screaming from his persistent nightmares.
Eric waited years to tell his wife about the wartime experiences that haunted his thoughts. It took even longer for him to finally confront and overcome the horrors of his past.
A recently released film, “The Railway Man,” is based on the life of Eric Lomax, a Briton and former prisoner of war of the Japanese military. The movie is an adaptation of Lomax’s autobiography of the same title.
During World War II, Lomax and his fellow captives were rounded up to build a railway connecting Thailand and Myanmar. His time in captivity was filled with cruelties, including water torture.
Patricia, now 77, met Eric by chance when they boarded the same train. They fell in love and married in 1983.
Patricia dedicated her life to supporting her husband who continued to suffer from his memories of the wartime interrogations.
One day, she read a newspaper article about a Japanese man seeking to atone for the abuse of prisoners of war. The man in the photo was the military police interpreter for her husband’s interrogations.
Eric felt a burning desire for revenge against the man he had “finally found,” but he vacillated over whether to contact him. In her husband’s place, Patricia wrote to the Japanese man.
They soon received a reply from the former interpreter who expressed his deep remorse. Two years later, in 1993, Patricia accompanied her husband to Thailand for a meeting.
Appearing before them was a short, elderly Japanese man. His body trembled as he repeatedly apologized.
“His act of bravery freed my husband from his unquenchable thirst for vengeance,” Patricia said.
Eric died two years ago at the age of 93 before “The Railway Man” was completed. The movie, directed by Jonathan Teplizky and starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, was released in Japan in April.
Patricia said she wants to deliver a message about the thoughts her husband lived by after his meeting with the Japanese interpreter.
“Eventually, you have to stop hating,” she said. “There are no winners in war. War has such terrible effects.”