26 May, 2015

Elephant Company: the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II by Vicki Croke

Sometimes a book introduces you to a character who is so interesting and admirable, that you wish you could be transferred across time and place to meet him. That’s how I felt when I read about Lt. Col James Howard Williams, also known as Elephant Bill.  

After serving in World War I, Elephant Bill applied for a job in Burma (now known as Myanmar), working for a company whose business was harvesting teak in the Burmese jungle using elephants to haul the logs. He was an animal lover and set out to learn everything he could about the elephants, and to improve their lives.

The descriptions of the loyalty and intelligence of the animals, and the hazardous life in the jungle with the uzis (the elephant handlers) is an amazing insight - something I will never forget. The climax of the book is the incredible story of how Elephant Bill’s favourite majestic elephant, Bandoola, leads a group being pursued by enemy troops up a steep cliff to safety. 

This is a very uplifting book about a courageous man and the animals he loved and their contribution during the Japanese occupation of Burma in World War II. It’s well written and totally heart warming, especially for animal lovers. 

Author: Vicki Croke

Recommended by Judy W, Orewa Library

Judy W may appear to work as a library assistant but in her own mind she is a top criminal defence lawyer and animal rights activist. She can hardly move for the piles of books in her small house. 

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