When the Japanese invaded Malaya in 1941, Ernest Hodgkin was a British Colonial government servant living with his wife Mary and their four children in Kuala Lumpur. In January 1942 the reality of war found them separated by thousands of miles and forced into new lifestyles very different from those they would have chosen for themselves: Mary and the four children sailed aboard a troop ship to safety in Perth, Western Australia and Ernest was interned, and remained a prisoner of the Japanese for the next four years.
If This Should Be Farewell follows, for the period of those four years, the twin strands of Ernest and Mary's Lives. Ernest recorded his experiences in Changi Goal, and his insights into prison culture in a diary which began as a letter to Mary, and grew to some fifty-six thousand words. Interwoven with Ernest's diary are letters written by Mary. Like the diary, they are full of everyday facts: the business of establishing and maintaining a home life in a new and strange country.