Troubador Front Line and Fortitude

Released: 28/02/2019

ISBN: 9781789016437

Format: Paperback

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Front Line and Fortitude

Memoirs of a Wasbie with the ‘Forgotten Army’


During the Second World War, one of the largest British Commonwealth armies ever assembled fought the Japanese in South East Asia, first on the border between what was then British India and Burma and then pushing deeper into Burma itself. Supporting the Fourteenth Army were an intrepid group of women known colloquially as the Wasbies – the Women’s Auxilliary Service (Burma) or WAS(B).

This is the story of how Maria Pilbrow faced menace and heartbreak yet coped with fortitude and determination. In the course of her life she overcame loss, anguish, danger and desperation. She survived the jungle horrors and, after the war ended, again found love and the security she craved only to have them ripped away once more. She was forced to rebuild her life anew which she achieved with the friendship and support of her Wasbie friends.

Astonishingly, there is very little information about the work of the Wasbies and no full-length book has been written which gives an account of their exploits – until now. For the first time in book form Front Line and Fortitude provides a personal record of these brave women and their magnificent contribution to the war effort. The book is based on and expanded from Maria Pilbrow's original diary, and her niece, Elizabeth Lockhart-Mure discovered her diary after Maria's death, and told this extraordinary story. 

Talk and book signing at National Army Museum, Chelsea, London - 11.30 am Friday, 15th Much 2019 - This was very successful - Hall was almost full and one of the Wasbies made the effort to attend - she was 94 years old and are from Wiltshire. She was the star of the show I also had the daughter of a Wasbie there and she knew Maria. What a great day!

Joanna Lumley reviewed the book: she says, "It is a marvellous book - a revelation and a fascinating glimpse into another braver, finer world".....

Surrey Life Magazine

SEBRA Magazine


The Bookseller

This is a fascinating, well-researched, and easy to read account of a young woman who joined the Women’s Auxiliary Service, on the front line in Burma in World War 2. It is based on the life and diaries of a relative of the author, Jeanne (known as ‘Maria’) whose courage, stoicism and ‘can do’ attitude in truly appalling war conditions, is admirably brought to life. Maria’s contribution - and that of her comrades in the tragically ‘Forgotten Army’ of the Far East - deserves to be remembered, and this memoir goes a long way towards addressing that.

The author also touches deftly on Maria’s upbringing in the beautiful foothills of snow-capped Mount Kenya and her life after the War.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and hope that others will soon have that pleasure.

by George Sweeney

It is social history of the highest quality. The courage and resilience of the women is inspirational. Perfect antidote to the self-obsession of modern life.

by Mandy Ogden

E. J. Lockhart-Mure

Elizabeth Lockhart-Mure grew up on a farm in Kenya with a love of Africa and the wild. Circumstances, however, led her to emigrate in 1979, and she then set up her own business in the field of aviation. Upon her retirement, Elizabeth took up writing with a view to bringing this compelling story into the public domain.

The book is based on and expanded from the original diary and notes of Maria Pilbrow, who was with the Women's Auxiliary Services (Burma), colloquially known as the ' Wasbies ' during the Burma Campaign of World War Two. Elizabeth Lockhart-Mure discovered the diary, notes, photographs and medals after Maria's death, which compelled her to write this extraordinary story.

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