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Steele’s Death March

Sergeant Steele watched with growing unease from the ramparts of the Citadel in Lang Son at the number of Japanese troops patrolling the narrow streets. Heavy artillery pieces pointed in the direction of the small French Foreign Legion unit.

Under command of the French Vichy government an uneasy truce between the French in Indochina and Japanese forces was about to erupt into all out war.

The Japanese coup d’état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen (Operation Bright Moon), took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. Japan was losing the war, an Allied invasion and an uprising of French troops in Indochina was inevitable. Simultaneously the Japanese attacked the French garrisons across the country.

Steele had attempted to persuade all the senior officers not to attend a dinner in their honour held by the Japanese. Tortured and executed the senior officers walked straight into a deadly trap.

Now the troops, led by battle hardened veterans like Steele resist massively overwhelming odds. After witnessing hundreds of prisoners massacred along the banks of the river the Legionnaires must fight their way through the Japanese lines in the hope of linking up with surviving Legion units and French Regulars. They must move towards Son La and Dien Bien Phu where they will fight costly rearguard actions.

Separated from the main column Steele must lead his small unit through enemy held areas, across raging rivers and over towering mountains all the while pursued by the relentless Japanese. Hunger, disease and the dense jungle lay ahead. Their objective, hold off the advancing Japanese long enough for the Regulars and civilians to cross over into China a thousand miles away.

Based on actual historical fact and first hand accounts by survivors, this novel describes the brutal Japanese Coup and the extraordinary feats of courage by the Legionnaires fighting every step of the long journey to safety. Sergeant Steele must not only contend with the Japanese but also his nemesis, Jean. Their eternal feud carries on with Jean leading a Japanese unit set on annihilating Steele and his men.

Steele looks at the men under his command. “How many of them will make it to China?” Setting off into the night the sounds of gunfire erupt further up ahead. It is going to be one hell of a march!

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