South by Java Head

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South by Java Head
South by java head.JPG
First edition (UK)
Author Alistair MacLean
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre World War II Novel
Publisher Collins (UK)
Doubleday (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 254 pgs
Preceded by The Guns of Navarone
Followed by The Last Frontier

South by Java Head is the third novel written by Scottish author Alistair MacLean, and was first published in 1958. MacLean's personal experiences in the Royal Navy during World War II provided part of the basis for the story.

Plot introduction[edit]

The story is set in February 1942, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Singapore. As the British stronghold of Singapore falls to the invading Imperial Japanese Army, a mixed collection of soldiers, nurses, fleeing civilians, a small boy, and at least one spy attempt to escape the burning city aboard the Kerry Dancer, a battered freighter manned by a disreputable captain and crew. The Kerry Dancer is crippled by Japanese aircraft, and the refugees are rescued by the Viroma, a tanker also fleeing Singapore; however, the Viroma is also sunk by the Japanese, and the survivors take to open boats on the open sea. Led by stalwart First Officer Nicholson, they attempt to flee to safety across the South China Sea, facing death by thirst and exposure, typhoons, and pursuit by the relentless Japanese. As tensions mount in the small boat, Nicholson realizes that they are equally at risk from traitors in their midst.

External links[edit]