Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop was an army surgeon who served during World War II.
He was born in Wangaratta, regional Victoria, in 1907 and was working as a surgeon in London when he enlisted in in the Australian Army Medical Corps during November, 1939.
Mr Dunlop was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese in Java, Indonesia, in 1942 and his unit was transferred to Singapore later that year.
On 20 January 1943 his ‘Dunlop Force’ was moved to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. The railway was constructed by Japanese prisoners of war using slave labour.
More than 22,000 Australians were forced to work on the railway under horrific conditions. Some 2,800 Aussies died during its construction.
Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop (pictured left in 1945) was an army surgeon that saved the lives of Australian POW working on the Thai-Burma Railway
Of Mr Dunlop’s time at the Thai-Burma Railway, the Australian War Memorial says: ‘He remained there until the war ended, labouring tirelessly to save wounded, sick and malnourished men.
‘Many times he put his own life at risk as he stood up to the brutality of his Japanese captors.
‘Though not the only medical officer to act in this selfless way, his name was to become a legend among Australian prisoners of war and an inspiration for their own survival.
‘Throughout his captivity and at great personal risk Dunlop recorded his experiences in his diaries.’
Mr Dunlop continued to pursue medicine after the war and worked to build connections between Australian and Asian medical communities.
He took a particular interest in the long-term health of war veterans – particularly those who’d been Japanese POW.
Mr Dunlop continued to perform lifesaving surgeries on Australia soldiers while under Japanese imprisonment (pictured, a painting of Mr Dunlop amputating a soldier’s leg)
He was Chairman of the Prisoners of War Trust Fund from l969-77 and promoted reconciliation with Japan.
Mr Dunlop was the recipient of several award, including: the Order of the British Empire (1947), Knight Batchelor (1969), Companion of the Order of Australia (1987), Knight Grand Cross, Order of St John of Jerusalem (1992), Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand (1993).
In 1977 Mr Dunlop was named Australian of the Year, was one of the 200 Great Australians in 1988 and was knighted in 1969.
Mr Dunlop died in his home in July, 1993, after suffering from pneumonia.
More than 10,000 people attended his state funeral.
Source: Australian War Memorial