Explorer, mountaineer, schoolmaster, Freddy Spencer Chapman was early conscious of being a special person, and of a deep-seated need to prove himself. Orphaned in childhood, he grew up to be something of a solitary, a natural rebel who rejoiced in physical exertion as an antidote to latent sensitivity and introspection. The man of action who, when just 23, was a member of the relief team that rescued Augustine Courtauld on the Greenland Ice-Cap, was also the man of indecision who wavered between the expedition life he loved and the nagging desire to do something more socially creative with his life - a dilemma which he appeared to resolve by becoming a schoolmaster at Gordonstoun under the famous educationalist Kurt Hahn. But then came the war, in which he not only survived disease, pursuit and even capture during three and a half years behind the Japanese lines in Malaya, but became the writer who could convert his experiences into that classic of guerilla warfare, The Jungle is Neutral.
Altogether he wrote seven books recording his expeditions and adventures; but although they won him many admirers, they gave no more than a glimpse of the extraordinary complexity of the man. Few of his readers could have guessed that, for all his exceptional stamina and courage, he was the victim of recurring bouts of depression and melancholy. It is this paradox which lies at the heart of this penetrating biography. Ralph Barker unravels the achievements and the character of a truly remarkable man.
F. Spencer Chapman is author of The Jungle is Neutral
Born in 1917 and educated at Hounslow College, Ralph joined the editorial staff of Sporting Life in 1934, but later went into banking. Meanwhile, he had begun writing, and several of his sketches and scenes were produced in West End Revue.
Ralph joined the RAF in 1940 as a wireless operator/air-gunner and progressed his military career until 1961 when he retired voluntarily from the RAF to write full time. He was a frequent contributor of feature stories to the Sunday Express.
Other books by Ralph Barker
Stories of Endurance
Children of the Benares
One Man's Jungle
The Last Blue Mountain
Good-Night, Sorry for Sinking You
Against the Sea
Not Here, but in Another Place
A Biography of F. Spencer Chapman DSO
When the passenger liner City of Benares sailed from Liverpool on Friday, 13 September 1940, she was carrying 90 evacuee children from the bombed cities of Britain, bound under a government-sponsored scheme for a safe haven in Canada. Her sinking by U-boat four days later, without warning, in total disregard of the plight of survivors and in defiance of international law, shocked and horrified the civilised world.
The Story of the S.S. City of Cairo
The heart-rending true story of the 1957 expedition to Haramosh Peak in the Karakoram range in Pakistan.
Brief History of the Royal Flying Corps
Royal Airforce at War
That Eternal Summer
The Blockade Busters
The Royal Flying Corps in France, Parts 1 and 2
Down in the Drink
Strike Hard, Strike Sure
Men of the Bombers
The Thousand Plan
In the balmy summer of 1940, the most critical battle of the Second World War was fought out over the fields and towns of southern England.
An embattled but resilient people could look only to the young men whose task it was to repel the aerial invasion. In this book Ralph Barker has unearthed twelve untold or little-known but unforgettable stories of men whose names may be unfamiliar but without whose selfless tenacity Britain would not have survived.
The story of how George Binney, a 39 year-old civilian working in neutral Sweden set about running vital cargoes of Swedish ball-bearings and special steels to Britain through the blockaded Skagerrak.
One of the greatest sea stories of World War II
Great Mysteries of the Air
Bill Lancaster: The Final Verdict
The Schneider Trophy Races
Survival in the Sky
England v Australia: Test Cricket 1877-1968
Innings of a Lifetime
Ten Great Bowlers
Ten Great Innings
The Cricketing Family Edrich
‘Stories of skill, patience, grit and swashbuckling verve retold in an urgent, compelling style. You are there on the terraces, in the game.’ - Times Educational Supplement
Kindle Edition | Endeavour Press (28 Dec. 2016)