Plaque honours Railway Man Eric Lomax

Patti and Eric Lomax. Picture: Joe Payne

Patti and Eric Lomax. Picture: Joe Payne

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A PRISONER of war whose life story was told by Hollywood is being honoured with a commemorative plaque at his childhood home.

Eric Lomax, who was played by Colin Firth in 2013 film The Railway Man, grew up in Bedford Terrace, Joppa.

He was captured by the Japanese during the Second World War while serving as a signals officer with the Royal Artillery at the surrender of Singapore.

Despite suffering horrific treatment at the hands of his captors, Mr Lomax later chose to forgive them, saying: “Sometimes the hating has to stop.”

The plaque to Mr Lomax, who died aged 93 in 2012, will be unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday, attended by his daughter Charmaine McMeekin and Edinburgh East MSP and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

After his capture in 1942, Mr Lomax and his fellow prisoners of war were sent on a forced march, and were then put to work building the Burma Railway. More than 100,000 people died as a result of the forced labour and barbaric conditions on the railroad, including more than 6000 British personnel.

Even when his ordeal was over at the end of the war, there was further heartache for Mr Lomax, who discovered on his return to Edinburgh that his mother had died and his father had remarried, meaning he couldn’t return to the family home. Despite suffering from the physical and mental scars of his imprisonment for the rest of his life, Mr Lomax later met and reconciled with one of his captors, interpreter Takashi Nagase.

The story of his life is told in his 1995 book The Railway Man, which was turned into a film last year starring Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Portobello Community Council convener Geoff Lynn praised local amateur historian Nick Stroud, who organised the plaque.

He said: “The fact that Eric Lomax’s book has been made into a film means there’s great potential for a publicity boost for the area in general. It’s another draw to bring people down here. His life story is very interesting, and it’s great to honour someone that hails from our community.

““It’s a really terrific event and something the community council is delighted to be supporting.”