On 2nd May we welcomed author, Philip Davies, to lecture on his new book “Lost Warriors – Seagrim and Pagani of Burma – The Last Great Untold Story of WWII”. This book reveals Davies’s research in to the story of two forgotten war heroes, both British soldiers, who stayed behind the enemy lines to fight in one of the brutal campaigns of the Second World War. This pair made a remarkable difference in the Allied campaign against the Japanese, fought in the jungles of the Burma.
Major Hugh Seagrim volunteered to stay behind the Japanese lines for over two and a half years to raise an army amongst the loyal Karens of eastern Burma in the most successful guerrilla operation of the Second World War. In 1946 his exploits were hailed as one of the epic stories of the whole war . The book also interweaves the story of Roy, or Ras, Pagani, who crossed paths with, and fought alongside, Seagrim. Pagani’s war experience included several escapes. He escaped alone from Dunkirk, and again from Singapore, and he was the only European to escape successfully from the fearful Death Railway.
We thank Philip for sharing this story with us at the lecture.
And continuing the Burmese theme, the Society is still seeking support for our plans to conserve one of our rare Burmese Kammavācā manuscripts and its rare woven braid, or sazigyo. We have received several very generous donations towards this project, for which we are extremely grateful. We are delighted to announce that this means we are now over halfway towards reaching our fundraising goal of £1820. We hope that the generous support we have already received will help encourage more contributions in the coming days and weeks so that we can reach our target, and ensure this precious object can be studied and enjoyed by future generations.
To donate, please visit https://royalasiaticsociety.org/donations/ and select the option “Pay Now”, writing “Burmese Braid Fund” as a reference for your contribution. For more information about this project, please see our previous blog post here.
A reminder that next week sees the Anniversary General Meeting of the Society. This will take place at the Society at 5.30 pm on Thursday 9th May and we would encourage all Fellows to attend. This will be followed by a lecture at 6.30pm which is open to the general public when Professor Jonathan Phillips will speak on “‘Saladin, we have returned!’: The Myriad Memories of the Crusades in the Near East during the Modern Era”. We hope that many of you will join us for the lecture. And in the meantime, for our UK readers of the blog, we wish you a joyful May Bank Holiday weekend and remind everyone that the Society will be closed on Monday 6th May.