Legacies of Far East Captivity: 6th International FEPOW Conference

News article 13 Jun 2017
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Following the recent launch of the new book Burma Railway Medicine, which comes as part of LSTM’s longest running collaboration, the co-author, LSTM’s Honorary Research Fellow, Meg Parkes co-chaired the Researching Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) History Group’s 6th International conference in association with LSTM from Friday 9th until Sunday 11th June.

The conference took place in the Liner Hotel, the Liverpool Medical Institution (LMI) and at LSTM with speakers from as far afield as New Zealand, Canada and Singapore and involved former, child internees, families of FEPOW, historians, academic and physicians. A special appearance was made on Sunday from Tom Boardman, who came along with his son to talk about his experiences of captivity.

LSTM’s Director, Professor Janet Hemingway welcomes delegates to the conference alongside LSTM’s Chairman James Ross, during the opening afternoon at the Liner Hotel. They spoke about LSTM’s collaboration with FEPOW, which is now in its seventh decade, and the valuable lessons that had been learned from the institution’s long term contact with these men and their families.

There were talks about Far East Evacuees, searching for the Sumatra Railway, Civil Resettlement Units and war crimes and the Singapore trials. Among the speakers was primary author on Burma Railway Medicine, LSTM’s Professor Geoff Gill who spoke on Saturday afternoon about the book, outlining the different conditions that they suffered from and what was learned from LSTM carrying out Tropical Disease Investigations (TDIs) all the way through to 1999. This included input from LSTM’s Dr Nick Beeching and Dr Kamal Khan, who was a psychiatrist who saw them visiting LSTM and described FEPOW Psychiatric Syndrome, and early description of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Delegates had plenty of opportunities to discuss their areas of interest and experiences with several question and answer sessions throughout the weekend.

Burma Railway Medicine- Disease, death and survival on the Thai-Burma Railway 1942-1945 will be celebrated at an event in London co-hosted by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on 22nd June. LSTM vice-president and broadcaster Peter Sissons will introduce presentations from Professor Gill and Meg Parkes and moderate a Q&A session.