In 1942 the battle-hardened troops of the Japanese army overran Burma with frightening speed, sweeping a tide of refugees before them. For five months British and Indian troops tried to stem the invasion, but with inadequate equipment and numbers they were no match for the enemy. This unexpected invasion triggered the exodus of half a million people who abandoned their homes and set off on foot for India. They included the elderly, pregnant women, children and exhausted soldiers. Ill-equipped and ill-provisioned they were not prepared for a trek of several hundred miles through dense jungle and ridge upon ridge of steep mountains, Disease, starvation and exhaustion claimed thousands whose graves lie unmarked in some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. Whole families were wiped out, and hundreds drowned in the mud as the monsoon turned valleys into swamps and rivers into torrents. Even six months later jungle tracks were lined with the bones of those who had died trying to escape. Survivors lost everything. Scarred by their ordeal, most refused to speak of the nights sleeping among corpses, or the daily struggle for survival on the journey. Some used their diaries to expunge the sights and smells they witnessed along the way, and to record the death of friends and family. It was a terrible end to an idyllic life in this colonial outpost nicknamed the Golden Land. For the first time diaries, letters and official documents have been drawn on to bring to life this shocking episode in the British Empire's history. The author, Felicity Goodall, has retraced the routes taken by refugees through a country which was transformed from paradise to hell on earth. Her own travels bring added empathy and understanding to the story of those forced to flee when Burma became a battlefield.