Medical Miracles in the Jungle: surviving WWII Far East Captivity

News article 14 Nov 2016
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Last week saw LSTM’s honorary research fellow Meg Parkes and Emeritus Professor Geoff Gill give a talk at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum. The talk was an element within Phanton Limb, an interactive exhibition focusing on medicine, memory and the treatment process as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2016 Fringe.  

The talk was called Medical Miracles in the Jungle: surviving WWII Far East Captivity and explored the fascinating medical ingenuity of Allied Prisoners of War in jungle camps in South East Asia. This was one of a series of public talks that has been given by the pair or by Meg Parkes since the publication of their book Captive Memories in 2015.

Captive Memories charts the history of LSTM’s longest running collaborative project, involving ex Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) and is based on 66 oral histories that were undertaken by Meg as part of a social history project which began in 2007. The project followed over half a century of treatment for returning FEPOW carried out by doctors, including Professor Gill, at LSTM, a relationship which was formalised in 1967 when LSTM became the primary centre to carry out Tropical Disease Investigations (TDIs).

A companion volume to Captive Memories will be published in May 2017, entitled Burma Railway Medicine with Professor Gill as principal author. The book looks specifically at the medical crisis in the camps housing those prisoners building the Thai Burma Railway during WWII. The book will be launched in May and discussed at 6th International FEPOW History Conference which will be held at LSTM in June 2017.

Confirmed speakers for the conference include Canadian film producer Anne Wheeler, Jeya Jeyadurai from the Changi Museum in Singapore and Rod Beattie from the Thailand Burma Railway Centre. There will be talks about PTSD and tropical disease and the post-war aftermath for FEPOW and their families. 

You can learn more about the conference here