Surviving Far East Captivity and the Aftermath: 70 Years on

News article 8 Jun 2015
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Following the recent launch of the book Captive Memories, based around LSTM’s longest running, scientific, medical and historical collaboration, authors, honorary research fellow Meg Parkes and Professor Geoff Gill co-chaired the Researching Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW) History Group’s 5thInternational Conference in association with LSTM from Friday 5th until Sunday 7th June.

With events taking place at the Liner Hotel, the Liverpool Medical Institution (LMI) and at LSTM the weekend featured speakers from as far afield as Australia and Singapore as well as three ex-FEPOWs and a number of former child internees, families of FEPOW and historians, academics and physicians. LSTM’s Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, welcomed everyone to the event during the opening afternoon at the Liner Hotel. She talked about the longevity of the collaboration, which began informally following the men’s release at the end of WWII, and the advancements that have been made in the study of tropical medicine due to LSTM’s contact with survivors. Like LSTM’s Chairman James Ross, who welcomed delegates to LSTM on Saturday morning, she paid tribute to the ex-FEPOW who attended the conference.

Among the speakers was author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who wrote the screenplay for the film The Railway Man, based on the book of the same name by ex-FEPOW Eric Lomax. He was joined by Charmaine McMeekin, Lomax’s daughter and they spoke about the portrayal of her father in the film and reality of living with a man affected by his years of captivity. Saturday saw a number of child internees talk about their varying experiences, while Professor Geoff Gill spoke on Sunday about the relationship between LSTM and the FEPOW’s that were treated here during the last seven decades. He looked at the advancements that have been made in treatment and diagnosis of tropical conditions as a result of the Tropical Disease Investigations (TDIs) that took place at LSTM and outlined the main conditions that the men returned home with. Delegates had plenty of opportunities to discuss their areas of interest and experiences with a number of question and answer sessions throughout the weekend.

Meg Parkes was keen to acknowledge the work of all those involved with the organisation of the conference and the dedication of those who had travelled from throughout the UK, Europe and beyond to participate. “It was a great three days” she said, “Many people felt that it was the best of the conferences so far and I was delighted to see the FEPOW’s themselves, and that we are still able to learn from their experiences of survival, even 70 years on.”

Details of some of the media coverage around Captive Memories, the Conference and the collaboration are as follows:

The Liverpool Echo

BBC Radio Merseyside

BBC North West Tonight

Today Programme, BBC Radio 4

BBC Breakfast TV (and BBC online)