Keep the Men Alive: Australian POW doctors in Japanese captivity

Front Cover
Allen & Unwin, Sep 1, 2009 - History - 320 pages
'The thing that haunts me most to this day is that blokes were dying and I could do bugger all about it - do you look after the bloke who you know is going to die or the bloke who's got a chance?' - Australian ex-POW doctor, 1999

During World War II, 22 000 Australian military personnel became prisoners of war under the Japanese military. Over three and a half years, 8000 died in captivity, in desperate conditions of forced labour, disease and starvation. Many of those who returned home after the war attributed their survival to the 106 Australian medical officers imprisoned alongside them. These doctors varied in age, background and experience, but they were united in their unfailing dedication to keeping as many of the men alive as possible.

This is the story of those 106 doctors - their compassion, bravery and ingenuity - and their efforts in bringing back the 14 000 survivors.

'You are unfortunate in being prisoners of a country whose living standards are much lower than yours. You will often consider yourselves mistreated, while we think of you as being treated well.' - Japanese officer to Australian POWs, 1943

About the author (2009)

Rosalind Hearder received her PhD in military history at the University of Melbourne in 2004, and won the inaugural C.E.W. Bean Prize from the Australian Chief of Army for her thesis. She was later a Fulbright scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is her first book.

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