- AUSTRALIAN LEGEND -
Perhaps Australia's most well-known veteran of the Second World War, Edward Dunlop, became well-known for his medical work with Australian prisoners of the Japanese, and his subsequent welfare work on their behalf after the war.
He was born on 12 July 1907 at Major's Plain, Victoria. In 1924 he became an apprentice pharmacist before moving to Melbourne three years later to study at the Pharmacy College.
In 1930 he was awarded a scholarship to Ormond College at Melbourne University to study medicine. There he picked up the nickname, 'Weary', that remained with him for the rest of his life. In 1934 he graduated with first class honours, having also represented Australia in rugby union in 1932.
Having been in part-time army service until beginning his studies, Dunlop rejoined the military in 1935 as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps and also began work at Melbourne Hospital. In 1937 he graduated from Melbourne University as a Master of Surgery before attending St. Bartholomew's Medical School in England where he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1938.
In November 1939 Dunlop enlisted in the AIF for service overseas. By May 1940 he had been promoted to major, having served in Jerusalem and was appointed Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services on the staff of the Australian Corps Headquarters and AIF Headquarters in Gaza and Alexandria.
Dunlop served in the Greek and Crete Campaigns with the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station, and was later senior surgeon in Tobruk. When the war in the Pacific began Dunlop's unit was transferred to Java. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in February 1942 and given command of No. 1 Allied General Hospital at Bandung. When the island fell to the Japanese Dunlop became a prisoner of war.
After being imprisoned on Singapore, Dunlop left for Thailand on 20 January 1943. For the rest of the war he worked as a medical officer on the Burma Thailand railway. The men under his charge suffered under primitive conditions and Dunlop became famous for his care of the ill and his willingness to place himself at risk, despite being unwell himself.
Dunlop survived captivity, had his temporary promotion confirmed, and was demobilised in February 1946 after which he transferred to the reserve with rank of honorary colonel. In November 1945 he had married Helen Ferguson, to whom he had become engaged early in the war and in 1946 established a private medical practice. Over the ensuing years Dunlop received many honours and appointments. He was made a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1948 and was appointed senior consultant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital from which he retired in 1967.
He was involved in the Colombo Plan, teaching and working in Thailand, Ceylon, India and Vietnam. At the same time he worked with former prisoners of war and led commemorative tours to the Burma-Thailand railway.
Dunlop died in Melbourne on 2 July 1993 and his funeral was attended by more than 10,000 people.
Clancy's comment: I met several people who met him after the war and they all said he was a humble man.
Lest we forget!
Rest in peace, Weary.