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RFHG Workshop: 10 June 2019

The programme for our June workshop at the Institute of Historical Research has been confirmed, and it’s a packed day with an exciting range of speakers.

Only a handful of tickets are remaining for the day, so if you want to grab your place, you can do so using this link. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Captivity and internment across the Far East during the Second World War

10am: Welcome (RFHG)

10.10 – 11.20: Cultures

10.10 – 10.25. Forgotten Men: Memory and Remembrance of Indian Prisoners of War of the Japanese during the Second World War (Kevin Noles)

10.30 – 10.45. Jewish POWs of the Japanese during the Second World War (Martin Sugarman)

10.50 – 11.05. Another Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence: nostalgia for a homeland and multi-culturalism in POW camps (Chie Inamoto)

11.05 – 11.20. Q&A

11.25 – 12.35: Generations

11.25 – 11.40. When objects tell the story: FEPOW memories and material culture (Terry Smyth)

11.45 – 12.00. Francis J Murray, Royal Army Medical Corps: Changi, Hokkaido (Paul Murray)

12.05 – 12.20. The ‘Other’ Railway Man: Mom and Pop’s Story (Phyllis Livingstone Pettit)

12.20 – 12.35. Q&A

12.35 – 13.25: Lunch (NB: hot drinks will be provided but please bring a packed lunch)

13.30 – 14.40: Medics

13.30 – 13.45. Behind the Wire: Australian Military Nursing and Internment during the Second World War (Angharad Fletcher)

13.50 – 14.05. Bill Frankland: A Medical Officer on Black Friday (Paul Watkins)

14.10 – 14.25. Doctor Cicely Williams: pioneering healthcare in captivity (Magda Biran-Taylor)

14.25 – 14.40. Q&A

 14.45: 15.55: Histories

14.45 – 15.00. Internment in Fukushima (Chris Best)

15.05 – 15.20. Ashley Prime, Royal Signals: Singapore, Thailand, Japan (Ashley Prime)

15.25 – 15.40. The ‘other’ steel bridges of the Thai-Burma Railway (Ken Hewitt)

15.40 – 15.55. Q&A

16.00 – Close


New book – by Dr Hilary Custance Green

Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home

Flyer SDR

Men captive in the Far East in WWII and their families in Britain lived separate, and unspeakably stressful lives for three and a half years. Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home combines documents from both fronts to tell their story.

Barry, a young captain, and the 68 Royal Signals linemen under his command arrived in Malaya while it was still at peace. The men, mainly reservists with some regular soldiers – Dunkirk survivors, built lines through the jungles of Malaya until they were all captured at the Fall of Singapore.

In Britain, Barry’s wife Phyllis, had collected addresses for the families of the men before they disappeared behind a wall of silence. For the duration of the war and after she kept in touch with the wives, mothers, grandparents and others. She received letters – from the tenements of Glasgow to the East End of London – telling of their fears, hopes and concerns.

At the end of the war, Barry and Phyllis got in touch with all the bereaved relatives and most of the survivors, as the men tried to track down their missing friends and rebuild their family lives.

In later life Barry wrote his memoirs of life as a prisoner of the Japanese, mainly on the Thailand-Burma Railway. This is full of the details of survival, both of the drudge and disease of the up-river camps and the contrasts between the hospital wards and theatre fun,towards the end of that captivity, in the base camps.

War Graves Visit – Yokohama, February 2017

From Paul Murray, member of COFEPOW:

As well as attending the 75th anniversary commemorations for the Fall of Singapore next February, I intend afterwards to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Yokohama in Japan and what remains of the POW camps on the northernmost island of Hokkaido where my father was held captive, namely Hakodate, Yakumo, Muroran, Nisi Ashibetsu, Utashinai and Akahira. His name was Major Francis J. Murray and, as well as being the senior British officer at the camps at Yakumo, Muroran and Nisi Ashibetsu between June 1943 and September 1945, he was those camps’ chief medical officer.

I would like to place a poppy remembrance cross at the graves of the 12 men who died on my father’s watch (download Roll of Honour). The list is not an exhaustive one and there may well have been other men who died during the period. One of the men’s remains I have not been able to locate. If any of the deceased’s relatives would like me also to place a small memento at their graveside or even simply to get in touch in advance of my visit, then please do email me. My address is

Photograph courtesy of Paul Murray: Kamikoge Aerodrome, Chitose on the 13th September 1945 as Major Francis Murray prepared to leave Hokkaido

Call for postgraduate bursary applications

The Researching Far East POW History Group (RFHG), in partnership with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM)

6th International Research Conference: Legacies of Captivity

9 – 11 June 2017

Call for Postgraduate Bursary Applications

What was the personal impact of captivity in the Far East during the Second World War? How did survivors rebuild their lives post-liberation? And where do families share and preserve their stories today?

Combining medical expertise with the most current research, this three-day conference will be aimed at: families of former POWs and civilian internees; professionals in the heritage sector; researchers, writers and the general public. Events running throughout the weekend will encourage audiences to reflect on the myriad ways that histories of captivity in the Far East have influenced individuals, families and communities.

We are inviting postgraduate researchers to apply for a bursary that will cover their full conference delegate fee.

There are three bursaries available. To apply, please submit a one-page (A4) proposal explaining how the themes of this conference relate to your current research, and the benefits to your project/career development in attending.

Note that successful applicants will need to arrange their own travel and accommodation – the bursary covers delegate fee only.

Completed proposals should be emailed to Dr Lizzie Oliver: by 5pm on 8 July 2016

Applications will be reviewed by Professor Geoff Gill, Dr Lizzie Oliver and Dr Bernice Archer.

Informal enquiries about the conference, or your application, should be made to Meg Parkes MPhil or Dr Lizzie Oliver:

Download the Call for Applications here