Surviving Far Eastern Captivity – how did they do it?

in association with the Liverpool Medical History Society

Professor Sears Eldredge
& supporting acts!
at the
Liverpool Medical Institution
Wednesday 19 September 2012
3pm – 6.15pm
(Optional supper £18 per head, 6.15 – 8.30pm
Update: This supper now FULL – Waiting list started)

Original poster

First performance after the Japanese
surrender, August 1945, at Nakon
Pathom camp, Thailand

Poster created by AKKI, aka
Basil Akhurst, 137th Field Regiment,
RA (courtesy of R. Brown)

To mark the 70th anniversary of the start of Far Eastern captivity, the 175-year-old lecture theatre of the historic Liverpool Medical Institution will be the venue for a special ‘matinee performance’. Featuring guest speaker, Emeritus Professor Sears Eldredge (Macalester College, Minneapolis, USA), with supporting acts, Professor Geoff Gill and researcher Meg Parkes (both based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine).

This one-off Far Eastern POW (FEPOW) history meeting takes place on Wednesday 19 September. The talks will turn the spotlight on different aspects of survival in captivity – the theatricals, smuggling and inventiveness – illustrating some of the key ways in which men survived captivity, both in the jungle camps of Thailand and beyond. Topics range from orchestras and concert parties, clandestine supply lines to medical and musical ingenuity.

If ever proof were needed that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ then Professor Eldredge’s lecture surely provides it. Sears wowed delegates and speakers when he spoke at the 2008 Researching FEPOW History Conference. His exhaustive, vivid and entertaining lecture on concert parties in Thailand will be remembered by all who were there. This time he will share some interesting new discoveries and hidden treasures from his research for his e-book, “Captive Audience/Captive Performers “. He will give the audience an insight into the morale-raising, spirit-lifting performances, as well as the artistry and ingenuity of actors, set designers, technicians and programme makers.

Professor Geoff Gill will present a talk entitled ”Stealing, smuggling, supplies and survival”, shining a spotlight on clandestine supply lines, such as the V-scheme that saved thousands of lives in Thailand, as well as other secret life-saving work. Professor Gill will reveal research undertaken for his PhD thesis, “Coping with Crisis, Medicine and Disease on the Burma Railway 1942- 1945”.

Meg Parkes, a Far Eastern POW history researcher, will share more of her interviews with the FEPOW who, so late in their lives, shared details about the medical ingenuity and inventiveness they took part in or witnessed.  Adapted from her talk “Tins, Tubes and Tenacity” Meg will include brief biographies of a couple of Merseyside medical men as well as new information concerning the hospital workshops at Chungkai and Changi.

This is a show not to be missed!

An Afternoon at the Theatre…    
Wednesday 19 September, 2012
Liverpool Medical Institution, 114 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5SR
Refreshments at 3pm
Lectures from 3.30 – 6.15pm
From 6.15 – 8.30pm reception and supper in the gallery

There is no charge for the meeting so you are advised to book early. To reserve places, complete the registration form below.

NB After the lectures there is an informal reception followed by supper at the LMI. For directions and parking go to the LMI website – Cost for the reception and supper – £18 each. Cheques (sent at the time of booking) should be made payable to: “Researching FEPOW History” and posted to Mike Parkes, “Kranji”, 34 Queens Road, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 2AJ. Email: Tel: 0151 632 2017. To avoid postage costs supper tickets will not be issued until the day (together with receipts, if requested).

2015 Conference

2015 Conference Programme

The Researching FEPOW History Group announces the 5th International Conference in association with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) – UPDATE: The Conference is now fully booked but there is a waiting list for places


Friday afternoon, all day Saturday & Sunday, 5 – 7 June 2015
Old School, LSTM, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA

Delegate fee: £120
(per person for the weekend, as previously does not include meals)


In alphabetical order, speakers confirmed include:
Keith Andrews (research), Jeya Ayadurai (Changi, Singapore), Rod Beattie MBE (Thailand), Frank Cottrell Boyce (scriptwriter, The Railway Man), Jon Cooper (Singapore), Jane Davies (Lancashire Fusiliers Museum; FEPOW in Korea), Professor Geoff Gill (LSTM), Dr Rosalind Hearder (Australian medics), Dr Lizzie Oliver (Sumatra Railway), Meg Parkes (FEPOW medical art), Martin Percival and Stephen Rockliffe (RAPWI and Repatriation), Philip Reed (IWM) – Roderick Suddaby Lecture, Stephen Walton (IWM),

And once again we hope to have FEPOW and civilian internees as guests of the conference.

Lectures will be held in the Nuffield lecture theatre at the Old School, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), a ten-minute walk from the hotel (see below).

On the Friday evening the conference will briefly relocate to the historic Liverpool Medical Institution (LMI) in Hope Street, a leisurely 15 minute walk from LSTM. Some delegates will remember it as the venue for the 2012 “An afternoon at the Theatre” lectures, headlined by Professor Sears Eldredge.

The walk goes through the historic medical quarter and heart of the 1881 Liverpool University College buildings, through the new University Square and on past the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral (built on the site of Liverpool’s largest workhouse) to the corner of Hope Street. This is home to Liverpool’s two cathedrals which stand at either end of the street, the famous Everyman Theatre, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and Paul McCartney’s Liverpool School of Performing Arts (LIPA).

Following an early supper (with a distinctly local flavour!) delegates will assemble in the LMI’s original galleried lecture theatre (built in 1837) for a “Night at the Flicks” – presentations and discussion with the creators/screenwriters of several TV and films which have portrayed different aspects of Far East captivity over the years.

Closing the first day at 9pm will leave plenty of time for those who have worked up a thirst to visit Liverpool’s iconic hostelry, the Philharmonic Dining Rooms halfway along Hope Street.


Friday evening: early supper at the Liverpool Medical Institution (approx. £15 per head)

Saturday night: Conference Dinner at The Liner (approx £30 per head)

Sunday evening: early evening visit to Liverpool’s Pier Head home to see the Repatriation Memorial and take a trip on the famous Mersey Ferry (£8 ferry round trip ticket)

Monday morning: visit to Preston for exclusive access to Lancashire Infantry Museum’s FEPOW archives (2nd Loyals, held in Singapore, Thailand and Korea) based at Fulwood Barracks (built in 1830s and now home to the Queens Lancashire Regiment) which is…
“… today the finest and most complete example of mid-Victorian military architecture left in the country.”

This archive is a jewel and should not to be missed by those with an interest in FEPOW history (more information at: Minimum party of 6, maximum 15, allocated on first-come basis (cost of travel and lunch to be advised, depends on numbers).
(NB – for those travelling to Liverpool by train consider returning home from Preston as it is on the West Coast mainline with excellent links north and south).

So, how about making it a long weekend and combine the conference with a city break?

Hotel – Organisers, speakers and guests will be staying at Liverpool’s premier themed hotel, The Liner, in Lord Nelson Street. Next door to Lime Street station, with free parking, the Liner is within sight of the world famous St George’s Hall and very close to the famous Walker Art Gallery. It’s a 10 minute walk away from Liverpool One, the new showcase retail centre of the city. And a 10 minute walk in the opposite direction from the hotel brings you to the School of Tropical Medicine (for those who prefer to ride the station taxi rank is outside the hotel).

The Liner is offering delegates the following preferential B&B rates in excellent, spacious accommodation:
£110 per room (up to 2 people) (Saturday night)
£195 per room (up to 2 people) for 2 nights (Friday and Saturday nights)
£264 per room (up to 2 people) for 3 nights (Thursday to Saturday inclusive)
£333 per room (up to 2 people) for 4 nights (Thursday to Sunday inclusive)
(no discount for single occupancy – know another delegate? share a room and share the cost!)
Delegates must make their own reservations; quoting discount booking code: 1560LSTMCO

So, take full advantage of the opportunity and plan to arrive a day early and spend time discovering Liverpool’s world-class attractions including: the Albert Dock retail and leisure complex on the banks of the Mersey, the Pier Head with its legendary Three Graces and the new Museum of Liverpool, The Tate Gallery and not forgetting The Beatles, Anfield and Everton!


NB – Do not delay. Registration forms (one per person) must be received by 30 September 2014; so book soon to secure your place. Download the Registration Form here (322KB pdf).

Registration: 1pm, Friday 5 June, conference ends 4.30 Sunday 7 June, 2015

For registration enquiries contact: Mike Parkes by email:, telephone: 0151 632 2017 or write to: Kranji, 34 Queens Road, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 2AJ. For other enquiries contact Meg Parkes:

“To remember them, is to honour them” – Roger Mansell 1935 – 2010

Remembering captivity across Southeast Asia and the Far East during the Second World War