Biography

Birth date: 12 July 1907
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Wangaratta
Death date: 02 July 1993
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Service number: VX259 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station

Perhaps Australia's most well known veteran of the Second World War, Edward Dunlop became well-known for his medical work with Australian prisoners of the Japanese, and his subsequent welfare work on their behalf after the war. He was born on 12 July 1907 at Major's Plain, Victoria. In 1924 he became an apprentice pharmacist before moving to Melbourne three years later to study at the Pharmacy College.

In 1930 he was awarded a scholarship to Ormond College at Melbourne University to study medicine. There he picked up the nickname, 'Weary', that remained with him for the rest of his life. In 1934 he graduated with first class honours, having also represented Australia in rugby union in 1932.

Having been in part-time army service until beginning his studies, Dunlop rejoined the military in 1935 as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps and also began work at Melbourne Hospital. In 1937 he graduated from Melbourne University as a Master of Surgery before attending St. Bartholomew's Medical School in England where he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1938.

In November 1939 Dunlop enlisted in the AIF for service overseas. By May 1940 he had been promoted to major, having served in Jerusalem and was appointed Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services on the staff of the Australian Corps Headquarters and AIF Headquarters in Gaza and Alexandria.

Dunlop served in the Greek and Crete Campaigns with the 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station, and was later senior surgeon in Tobruk. When the war in the Pacific began Dunlop's unit was transferred to Java. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in February 1942 and given command of No. 1 Allied General Hospital at Bandung. When the island fell to the Japanese Dunlop became a prisoner of war.

After being imprisoned on Singapore, Dunlop left for Thailand on 20 January 1943. For the rest of the war he worked as a medical officer on the Burma Thailand railway. The men under his charge suffered under primitive conditions and Dunlop became famous for his care of the ill and his willingness to place himself at risk, despite being unwell himself.

Dunlop survived captivity, had his temporary promotion confirmed, and was demobilised in February 1946 after which he transferred to the reserve with rank of honorary colonel. In November 1945 he had married Helen Ferguson, to whom he had become engaged early in the war and in 1946 established a private medical practice. Over the ensuing years Dunlop received many honours and appointments. He was made a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1948 and was appointed senior consultant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital from which he retired in 1967.

He was involved in the Colombo Plan, teaching and working in Thailand, Ceylon, India and Vietnam. At the same time he worked with former prisoners of war and led commemorative tours to the Burma-Thailand railway.

Dunlop died in Melbourne on 2 July 1993 and his funeral was attended by more than 10,000 people.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Theatre of war: Java
  • Recommended for: Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

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Timeline

Date of birth 1907-07-12 Wangaratta, VIC.
Other 1924 Commenced a pharmacy apprenticeship at Benalla.
Other 1927 Moved to Melbourne to attend Pharmacy College.
Other 1930 Won a scholarship to Ormond College at Melbourne University to study medicine.
Other 1934 Graduated from Melbourne University with first class honours.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1935 Australian Army Medical Corps.
Other 1935 Joined the Royal Melbourne Hospital as a junior resident.
Date commissioned 1935-07-01 Commissioned into the Australian Army Medical Corps with the rank of captain.
Other 1936 Appointed Senior Surgical Resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Other 1937 Graduated from Melbourne University as a Master of Surgery.
Other 1937 Joined the Children's Hospital as Resident and graduated as a Master of Surgery from Melbourne University.
Other 1938-05 Left Australia for London aboard the SS Ormonde as the ship's medical officer. That year in London he attended St Bartholomew's Medical School and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1939-11-13 Enlisted in the 6th Division Australian Army Medical Corps with the rank of captain.
Other 1939-12 Posted as Medical Officer, Headquarters, Australian Overseas Base, Jerusalem, and appointed Acting Assistant Director of Medical Services.
Date promoted 1940-05-01 Appointed major and Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services on the staff of the Australian Corps Headquarters and AIF Headquarters in Gaza and Alexandria. Later Dunlop was appointed as AIF Medical Liaison Officer on the staff of the Deputy Director of Medical Services of Lusterforce, he served in both Greece and Crete.
Date promoted 1941-07-18 Appointed to command 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station, but he was dissatisfied with staff work and declined this promotion. He remained with this unit as senior surgeon, and second in charge, and subsequently served with them in Tobruk.
Other 1942 With the withdrawal of the 6th and 7th Australian Divisions from the Middle East, Dunlop and 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station were transferred to Java.
Date promoted 1942-02-26 Appointed temporary lieutenant colonel. He was in command of No 1 Allied General Hospital at Bandung.
Date captured 1942-03 The Japanese captured the hospital Dunlop was working at in Bandung and he became a prisoner of war. Dunlop and the prisoners of war under his command were then transferred to Singapore.
Other 1943-01-20 Dunlop and the prisoners of war under his command were transfered from Singapore to Thailand to work on the Burma-Thailand railway.
Date promoted 1945-09-27 Appointed lieutenant colonel.
Date returned to Australia 1945-10
Other 1945-12-10 Began work with Brigadier Blackburn at Army Headquarters as Assistant Director of Medical Services to Blackforce.
Date of discharge 1946-02-01 Demoblised and transferred to the Reserve List of Officers with the rank of honorary colonel.
Date of honour or award 1947-03-06 Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Other 1948 Made a fellow of the Royal Australiasian College of Surgeons.
Date of honour or award 1965-01-01 Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).
Date of honour or award 1969-01-01 Knight Bachelor.
Date of honour or award 1977 Australian of the Year.
Date of honour or award 1987-07-08 Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
Date of honour or award 1992 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
Date of honour or award 1993 Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand.
Date of death 1993-07-02 Died after contracting pneumonia.
Date of burial 1993-07-12 Received state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne, VIC.