Thousands of Australian and Allied prisoners of war worked and died in inhuman conditions to build the Thailand/Burma railway for the Imperial Japanese Army. A 25 year old from Coburg, Victoria, James Boyle, was one of them. With death and disease as daily companions, this young Australian never gave up hope. He was determined to record his experiences and those of his mates - at the limits of human endurance. He swapped precious scraps of food for a tiny notebook. In it, day by day in great secrecy, he described fragments of his life in shorthand. When the remnants of his group were withdrawn from the railway, he buried his notebook wrapped in a piece of gas cape within a tin can. Over four decades later, that small book of spidery pencil forms the core of a vivid and moving story - a story shared by thousands of James Boyles and their mates, many of whom did not return.