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Book details
  • SubGenre:Military
  • Language:English
  • Pages:284
  • eBook ISBN:9781098385408
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098385392

Relentless Hope

A True Story of War and Survival

by David L. Britt

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"Relentless Hope: A True Story of War and Survival" is the harrowing and inspirational survival story of Major Chester "Chet" Britt, captured on Bataan in the Philippines and made a prisoner of war during World War II. This book has been researched extensively and checked for historical accuracy. His wife Grace, evacuated from the Philippines, and gives birth to their son safe at home in America, She supports the war effort working in an armaments factory. Chet suffers through savage beatings, starvation, extreme thirst, illness, and terror on the Bataan Death March. He inexplicably escapes death by friendly bombing on 2 different Hell Ships and exposure to winter cold on a 3rd ship taking him to Japan, a trip that kills most of his friends, that have formed a "circle of life" to help and protect each other. He endures starvation, illness, and beatings in 6 prison camps that result in death for thousands of other prisoners. "Relentless Hope" recounts Chet's courage and will to survive extremely savage and barbaric conditions and the couple's desire to reunite and raise their family in peace.
"Relentless Hope: A True Story of War and Survival" is a harrowing and inspirational survival story of one man and his family wrapped in the accurate historical context of the war in which he fought and the uncertainty his family endured. Historical facts are extracted from war crimes testimony, Chet's personal diary and letters and the personal accounts Chet told to his family, as well as the codified stories of multiple survivors of the same experiences and official WW II operations reports. Extensive research revealed unknown truths which allowed us to encourage the correction of historical records. A wealth of information did not make it into this book, but this volume of research can be accessed at the website, including actual gun camera film of the U.S. Navy attacks on the prison ship Oryoku Maru on December 14. 1944. Chet cheated death many times from the age of 4 years and through near death experiences in combat and as a prisoner of war of the Japanese; first in the Philippines then in Japan and Manchuria. The number of times death could not claim him is remarkable in light of the true experiences of starvation, dehydration, malaria, infection from wounds, and other diseases. He travels on 3 ships from Philippines to Japan with two of the ships attacked by U.S. Navy dive bombers and torpedo aircraft. Both of these ships are so badly damaged they are scuttled and hundreds of his fellow prisoners die. Ironically, the prisoners cheer for their countrymen to hit the ships with their bombs, inviting death at friendly hands over continued unbearable life in enemy chains. The exposure to the extreme cold of winter, clothed only in a loin cloth in an unheated hold of a ship, nearly took his life. He was abandoned for dead but his heart would not stop beating. He continually dreams and thinks about food and aches to hold the son that he had not yet seen and young wife, evacuated to the U.S. before the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific. He is skeletal in appearance, after 3 1/2 years as a prisoner of the Japanese; his 6'3" weighing only 103 pounds. He is experiencing an attack of beri-beri and he is unable to stand or walk. Once again at death's door the grim reaper is held at bay, by a miracle, as the Japanese surrender and American rescuers, including a classmate from West Point, are parachuted into Manchuria, to take control of his sixth and last prison. Medicine and food dropped by B-29s provide the nourishment and drugs needed to prevent his death. He will spend many months in hospitals receiving medical attention and diets high in protein and vitamins to attempt to rebuild his weight, strength and health. Two months of recovery are necessary to restore his body and fight off additional attacks of malaria. He returns to active duty in 1946 and works with German scientists brought to the U.S. after the war to work on rocket technology. His love of aviation and math skills are brought together in what must have been his dream job. The trials of life that Chet and Grace have experienced since their wedding in 1940, lives interrupted by war, seem to be over and the peaceful happy marriage they envisioned appears to be coming a reality. But the story is not yet over.
About the author
Dave Britt is the son of Major Chester K. Britt. Dave is a Vietnam-era veteran and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, flying more than 2,000 hours in Special Operations AC-130 and fighter reconnaissance RF-4C aircraft. After his military service, Dave worked as vice president for three different defense contractors and helped his daughter begin her own successful company. He is permanently retired as of 2012.

Book Reviews

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Jo Ann
True Heros A factual book that shows the true courage of those we call "The Greatest Generation" ever! The will to survive against all odds is so overwhelming you could feel it. These men are true hero's and should be honored and remembered forever. They are why we are free today. The journey of Chester's service is long and sad, but through it all, his faith, hope and love for his family kept him going! Getting home to his family was a hard earned blessing from God. This book should be on every school's reading list. The younger generations are clueless about the sacrifices of these great men! Well done Mr. Britt! You honor your dad and those he served with, all with courage, dignity and distinction! God Bless all those great warriors! Read more
Relentless Hope - A Must Read I was crewed with Lt Col Britt, flying RF-4C aircraft together. That being said, I found the book compelling, painting a graphic and vivid picture of what these courageous men suffered through. I was driven to tears at times, enraged at other times, and encouraged by the “back story” of love and faith. Even though I’ve been friend with Dave for over 40 years, I learned a lot more about his family and their contributions to the war effort, truly a part of the heart and soul of the Greatest Generation. This book is a great read and illustrates what real sacrifice is. Younger generations could learn a lot from this historically accurate book. Read more
An excellent accounting of a terrible event I've been studying US history for decades and appreciate this important contribution to the historical record. It's one thing to recount the decisions of generals and the movements of armies but quite another thing to walk with one man and his family through the crucible of suffering and anguish. Britt effectively relates the horrors of his father's POW experience without sensationalizing the brutality suffered. I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to become acquainted with one of the countless numbers of real men and women who suffered unspeakably in the service of liberty. Read more
A true inspiration! A True Inspiration! The entire story of Chester, his family, the men with whom he served, is so beautifully woven together from the family photos to the maps, the dairy and other historical documentation, I’m just in awe!! The integrity with which it was written captures the fortitude, perseverance and faith of Chester and his comrades so beautifully, it is truly an inspiration! I’ve read many books recounting the stories of brave souls who have endured similar experiences and from what I can see already, this book is one of the very best!! Read more