Kenelm Digby and Mutal Fielder met on a P & O liner returning to the Far East from England on the eve of the Second World War. As a 21-year-old undergraduate, Kenelm had made headlines when he took part in the notorious 1933 'King and Country' debate at the Oxford Union. Now he was returning to Kuching as legal adviser to Sir Vyner Brooke, last of the legendary White Rajahs of Sarawak. Mutal, who had trained as a ballet dancer in London and Paris, was on her way back to Hong Kong where she and her parents enjoyed a life of privilege and comfort, waited on by Chinese servants in their home on The Peak, then the exclusive preserve of the upper ranks of the British expatriate community.
The young couple's shipboard romance led to their engagement in Singapore, celebrated with champagne at Raffles Hotel. But their idyllic world soon came crashing around them when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong and Sarawak at Christmas 1941. Kenelm spent the next three and a half years interned in Kuching. Mutal, with her parents, spent the war in the humiliating and squalid conditions at Stanley Internment Camp, separated from her fianc