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Any event of interest

Special FEPOW Descendants’ Weekend – 16, 17, 18 November 2019

The SECRET ART OF SURVIVAL exhibition

25 October 2019 – 20 June 2020

Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG&M), Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3DR

 SATURDAY 16thVG&M: FEPOW Focus Day 10.30am – 3.30pm

A FREE programme of activities focused on FEPOW family histories including:

·       Short talks ·       Practical workshop on looking after artworks
·       Exhibition tours ·       Sharing memories and stories
·       Archive and documentary films ·       Digital archiving of stories, artwork and artefacts

Please note this is a drop-in session and activities will be repeated throughout the day.

 

SUNDAY 17th noonFEPOW Remembrance Service, Liverpool Parish Church (near the waterfront)

Special FEPOW Evening at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (RLPO) Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP

Doors Open 6.30pm, 7pm start

  • Welcome presentations, then in memory of all Far East captives, the RLPO Youth Choir perform the Vocal Orchestra arrangement of Dvorak’s Largo, created in 1943 by and for the Women of Palembang Internment Camp
  • Feature film – Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, starring David Bowie, Tom Conti and Ryuichi Sakamoto

The booking line for the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Hall (RLPO) is now open – https://www.liverpoolphil.com/whats-on/film/merry-christmas-mr-lawrence/3459 Tickets must be booked with RLPO, either online or by telephone: 0151 709 3789, there are no reserved seats.

MONDAY 18th10–1pm VG&M: private guided viewings of the Secret Art of Survival exhibition – regrettably these are now fully booked.

NB- VG&M is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 5pm

 IMPORTANT

Please register your interest now, fepow.project@lstmed.ac.uk stating which events you wish to attend.

Accommodation: The Liner Hotel (www.theliner.co.uk) in Lord Nelson Street (to the right of Lime Street Station) is offering special room rates for FEPOW exhibition visitors, subject to dates and availability. To book direct, call direct on 0151 709 7050 (the lower rates will only be available when calling direct) and quote FEPOW Art.

THE 7TH INTERNATIONAL FEPOW HISTORY CONFERENCE – Registration Open

IMPORTANT UPDATE HERE

Making and marking memory: widening perspectives on Far East captivity

5 – 7 June 2020, Liverpool

Co-hosted by the Researching FEPOW History Group (RFHG) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), our 7th international conference will focus on the stories and creativity that sustained prisoners, internees and forced labourers throughout captivity. We will also look at the made, recorded and preserved memories that subsequent generations have drawn upon in their own responses to this rich and moving history. In doing so, we will look for different perspectives and new voices to shed light on all that is yet to learn about – and from – the experiences of captivity, internment and forced labour across Southeast Asia and the Far East.

Taking place during the 75th anniversary year of liberation, and in conjunction with LSTM’s Art of Survival exhibition, the conference will encourage delegates to think of the objects, poems, artworks, and stories that resonated with prisoners and enabled their narratives to endure for many decades post-war.

Located at The Liner Hotel and LSTM buildings in the beautiful city of Liverpool, speakers already confirmed include: award-winning novelist Mark Dapin, acclaimed history writer Damien Lewis, representatives from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, British Red Cross, Imperial War Musem, the WarGen history project plus many more family researchers, academics, photographers and writers.

Hope to see you there!

 

Save the Dates: RFHG Workshop and Conference

Two FEPOW research dates for your diaries….!

Captivity, internment and forced labour across the Far East during the Second World War.
Institute of Historical Research, London

10 June 2019

If you would like the chance to speak at our next workshop, please send a 200 word summary of your proposed talk to researchingfepowhistory@gmail.com by 25 January 2019.

  • Talks are welcomed from relatives of former prisoners/internees, undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics, cultural institutions and museums, as well as members of the wider public.
  • Registration will open in January 2019!

For more details, see our website: https://fepowhistory.com/call-for-papers/

The 7th International FEPOW History Conference
Liverpool, UK

5 – 7 June 2020

What you need to know:

Co-hosted by the Researching FEPOW History Group (RFHG) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), our next conference will take place during the 75th anniversary year of liberation in conjunction with LSTM’s Art of Survival exhibition.

  • An exciting line-up of speakers already confirmed, including acclaimed history writers, historians, novelists, photographers, museums, libraries and archives.
  • Places will be limited — be ready for booking to open in Spring 2019!

Keep an eye on https://fepowhistory.com/ for our guest blogs, and future announcements!

Stories of Hope and Forgiveness from the Burma Railway

Sat 27 October 2018, 7.30pm

Steeple Church, Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4DG

Eric Lomax’s book, ‘The Railway Man’, records his terrible experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war. The book inspired the film of the same name starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine. Charmaine McMeekin is Eric’s daughter and she will speak movingly about living with the painful legacy of her father’s experiences and her own journey to find peace and reconciliation with him. Charmaine was a nurse and midwife, she is now a counsellor and psychotherapist in Edinburgh.

Captain Clarkson Blackater was also captured by the Japanese in 1942 and sent to work on the notorious Burma -Thai Railway. The secret diary he kept during his ordeal became the basis of his book ‘Gods Without Reason’. His daughter, Phyllida, and grandson, Piers Bowser, will use extracts from his book, along with private letters and poems to reveal how his faith and his love for his family sustained him through his dark days in captivity.

Tickets are £5  and available here.

Proceeds from this event are in aid of Erskine care for ex-servicemen.

Jack Chalker’s Centenary

10 October 2018, would have been Jack Bridger Chalker’s 100th birthday. Widely known as the “Burma railway artist”, he is famed and remembered for his remarkable depictions of captivity under the Japanese during the Second World War: a vivid and uncompromising documentary of disease, death and survival thanks to remarkable ingenuity, in camps along the Thai-Burma Railway.  Meg Parkes and Geoff Gill write for RFHG about a remarkable man and his enduring legacy.

Chalker - working men cropped
Working Men © J.B.Chalker

Jack Bridger Chalker: 10 October 1918 – 15 November 2014

Born in 1918 in London, Jack was educated at Dulwich College and later Goldsmith’s where he studied graphics and art. Awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Art,  this was deferred due to the outbreak of war in 1939. He volunteered, joining the Territorials’ 260 Battery 118th Field Regiment Royal Artillery. In October 1941 Jack’s unit was posted to Singapore, sailing from Liverpool on the Orcades. Stopping briefly in India, his ship docked in Singapore on 29 January, just 17 days before the garrison faced a humiliating surrender to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.

After initial imprisonment at the vast Changi POW camp, he moved first to Havelock Road camp to work on the docks, before being sent north to Thailand arriving at Ban Pong on 19 October. Marched 160 kilometres north through raw jungle to Konyu River camp, Jack worked on the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway. Here the combination of disease, malnutrition and working like slaves meant mortality was high. A near-fatal bout of sickness had Jack moved south, first to Tarsau and then on to the larger POW “hospital” camp at Chungkai at the southern end of the railway.

During an interview in 2007, Jack recalled that early on in Changi he had drawn pictures of sexy ladies for his comrades for whatever the going currency was. But soon he was producing depictions of imprisonment in and around Singapore, including examples of Japanese brutality. On the railway he expanded this work to include the beautiful things that surrounded them – breath-taking scenery, exotic flora and abundant wildlife – as well as details of camp life. Later, at the base hospital camps, he concentrated on recording the medical problems and the improvised equipment used for treatments. In addition he also filled notebooks with anatomical studies. All this work was done at great risk as any form of record-keeping was strictly forbidden by the Japanese.

chalker - old
This exquisite 3” by 2” miniature watercolour, painted by Jack’s great friend and fellow artist Ashley Old, was done quickly, in secret and kept hidden.  It shows the aftermath of Jack’s near-fatal encounter with a Korean guard who spotted him sketching while in the sick hut at Konyu camp. Courtesy J. Chalker © Bartholomew family

It was at Chungkai that Jack worked closely with the Australian surgeon Colonel Edward “Weary” Dunlop and, after the Japanese official surrender in September 1945, he was invited by Dunlop to remain for a while in Bangkok, acting as war artist for the Australian Army HQ. There he completed and added to his collection of drawings and paintings, some of which were used in subsequent war crime tribunals as well as in medical journals in Australia.

On return to England Jack took up his scholarship at the Royal College of Art. There followed a highly successful career, including posts as Director of Art at Cheltenham Ladies College, Principal of Falmouth College of Art, and later a similar position at the West of England College of Art in Bristol. He retired in 1974.

After the war, Jack did not involve himself with the Far East POW community and for many years his artwork from captivity was largely unknown in Britain. In the early 1980s, Dr Geoff Gill at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) noticed some of Jack’s drawings illustrating a 1946 paper, published by Dunlop in the Australian Medical Journal. These were attributed to “Gunner Chalker” and for some time it was assumed that the works were by an Australian. However, eventually Jack was tracked down to his studio in rural Somerset.

jack and weary
Jack with “Weary” Dunlop, Somerset, 1980s © A.Chalker

Jack visited LSTM where he underwent tropical disease screening. He brought photographic copies of his railway art collection, which he presented to the School. His links and friendships with staff in Liverpool continued throughout the rest of his life.

Jack’s reputation as a POW artist grew and he published his epic book, Burma Railway Artist, in 1994 with a revised and expanded edition in 2007 (Burma Railway – Images of War). Though remembered mainly for the illustrations, Jack’s text in both books was a perceptive and detailed reflection of POW life and conditions. Tim Mercer, who published the 2007 volume, said: “Jack was one of the most special people I have ever met. No bitterness, no regrets and he even said he would not have missed his time as a prisoner of war for anything…Cheers Jack..!”

Jack was married twice and had three children. Those who knew him remember a delightfully modest and unassuming man. He held no bitterness for what he had experienced, and even said that he had benefitted enormously because of “all the wonderful people I met”.

Jack Chalker died on 15 November 2014, aged 96. Previously unseen examples of his artwork from captivity will be included in next year’s Far East POW Secret Art of Survival exhibition organised by LSTM and held at Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum, opening on 19 October 2019.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Adrian Chalker and Tim Mercer for their help in compiling this tribute. Title image: Jack Bridger Chalker, 2010 © Parkes LSTM

 

New play: Captain Duncan’s Diaries

A brand-new play has been written by Ann Warr based on the books by Meg Parkes describing her father’s adventures during three and a half years of captivity in Southeast Asia during the Second World War.

Based on the diaries that he managed to keep in that time, you will be amazed by this true-life story of Dr Duncan from Moreton, portrayed by our young actors during Wirral’s own premiere production.

The play is being performed on four dates as part of Wirral Arts Festival.

Dates and Venues:

October 3rd, 7.30pm: Church of the Good Shepherd , Wirral

October 5th, 7.30pm: West Kirby Arts Centre

October 10th, 7.30pm: Birkenhead Town Hall

October 12th, 7.30pm: St Mary’s Church, Wirral

Tickets are £5. For details of how to book , please go to the Wirral Arts Festival website and search for the play in the Events calendar.

 

Legacies of Captivity, June 2017 – New Speakers Confirmed

We are delighted to announce that several new speakers have been confirmed for next summer’s 6th International FEPOW History Conference, held in conjunction with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

These include:

  • Professor Sears Eldredge (speaking via film on Borneo POW and Internee camp entertainments)
  • Dr John Cardwell and Emma Nichols (Archivist and conservator for University of Cambridge’s Wellcome Trust funded Changi digitisation project)
  • Stephen Walton (Senior Curator, Imperial War Museum)

Places are filling up, so please do book soon – and certainly by September! You can download a booking form here.

 

VJ-Day in London

Queen and Royal Family set to mark 70th anniversary of VJ-Day in London:

The 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day will be commemorated by the Royal Family on Saturday 15th August as The Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, will attend a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square.

On the same day, the Prince of Wales will be accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall as they attend a Drumhead Service and wreath laying ceremony on Horse Guards Parade followed by a reception in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

See Royal Central  for full details

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

SURVIVING FAR EAST CAPTIVITY AND THE AFTERMATH: 70 YEARS ON

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)

 CONFERENCE WEEKEND – THE DETAILS

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.

CONFERENCE OPTIONAL EXTRAS;

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: www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/the-collection). 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: mike.parkes@talktalk.net, telephone: 0151 632 2017 or write to: Kranji, 34 Queens Road, Hoylake, Wirral CH47 2AJ. For other enquiries contact Meg Parkes: meg.parkes@liverpool.ac.uk

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