Ralph Barker Endurance

One Man's Jungle


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

Military History

Brief History of the Royal Flying Corps

Royal Airforce at War

That Eternal Summer

The Blockade Busters

The Hurricats

The Royal Flying Corps in France, Parts 1 and 2

Down in the Drink

The Ship-Busters

Strike Hard, Strike Sure

Men of the Bombers

The Thousand Plan



Aviation History

Great Mysteries of the Air

Bill Lancaster: The Final Verdict

The Schneider Trophy Races

Aviator Extraordinary

Survival in the Sky


England v Australia: Test Cricket 1877-1968

Innings of a Lifetime

Purple Patches

Ten Great Bowlers

Ten Great Innings

The Cricketing Family Edrich