Margaret Leadbetter with her husband Eric’s memoirs Saved by the Bomb.
Margaret Leadbetter with her husband Eric’s memoirs Saved by the Bomb. Nicola Brander

Diggers war stories live on

AT 11.02am on August 9, 1945, a giant American bomber released an atomic bomb over Japan’s industrial powerhouse Nagasaki.

When it exploded, it would kill 74,000 and injure about the same number.

Eric Leadbetter was there, working at a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It was his salvation.

The catastrophic destruction helped end World War II and Mr Leadbetter’s incarceration.

It would also form part of Saved by the Bomb – the diary he wrote before his death on the Coast last year.

The book was launched at the Maroochydore RSL Sub-branch yesterday.

Mr Leadbetter’s widow Margaret, made her husband write it after he battled poor health.

She wanted to make sure his incredible war experiences were chronicled and remembered.

“He used it as therapy. It was the only therapy he ever had,” Mrs Leadbetter said.

“He never wrote about the atrocities he saw, never spoke about what the Japanese forces did to the Chinese.”

Mr Leadbetter’s force surrendered in the Battle of Singapore in late 1941.

“He always had a complex about the surrender. He said they should have been killed instead,” Mrs Leadbetter said.

Although the encroaching Axis forces were pushed back by allied forces, when Mr Leadbetter became a POW he did not know Australia had avoided an invasion.

He would work with other POWs to build the Burma railway and the bridge that crossed the River Kwai.

Mr Leadbetter was then kept in Nagasaki.

After the bomb was dropped, he and other captives fled by train and car to reach the southernmost part of Japan and US forces.

Mrs Leadbetter said the battles fought by her husband of 63 years needed to be told.

“So many don’t know there were Australian prisoners of war in Japan,” she said.

Saved by the Bomb by Eric Leadbetter, will be available from – simply search the book’s title.