Biography

Also Known as: Edward 'Weary' Dunlop
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.

Rolls and Awards

Second World War POWs and Missing Persons

  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Theatre of war: Java

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Officer of the Order of the British Empire

  • Unit: 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Art

Colonel Edward (Weary) Dunlop

Colonel (Ernest) Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, OBE, MS Melb, FRCS, FRACS. 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....

ART26999

New arrivals: dressing ulcers, Chungkai

Soldiers dressing ulcers in the prisoner of war camp, Chungkai, Burma-Thailand Railway. Even small cuts and scratches could turn into gaping and stinking tropical ulcers, caused by bacteria in the soil. Operating confronted doctors with a terrible choice, a bad ulcer could kill a man, but operating...

ART90839

Artificial leg bamboo pylon

An artificial leg made from bamboo from Chungkai, Thailand in a hospital within a prisoner of war camp working to build the Burma- Thailand Railway.

ART90864

Tropical ulcer

A foot and lower leg with a tropical ulcer. There is a detailed sketch of the area infected to the upper left of the main image. This picture shows an example of the type of sickness treated by the medical hospitals in the prisoner of war camp in Chungkai, as prisoners worked on the...

ART90888

Position of ileostomy bottle on a patient

Nakom Paton, - Railway, Far East

ART90904

Ileostomy opening

A study of an ileostomy opening on the right side of the abdomen. An ileostomy is an opening created that brings the end of the small intestine to the surface of the skin. Intestinal waste then passes through the opening, which is collected in an external pouch attached to the skin. They are...

ART90906

Scrotum ariboflavinosis

A close study of a patient with scrotum ariboflavinosis, which was a condition resulting from a deficiency of B12 that was common among the prisoners. The most common cause being an inadequate diet, particularly of protein-rich foods such as meat, dairy, leafy green vegetables and whole grains....

ART90923

Drip scheme infusion apparatus, Hintok

Drip saline infusion apparatus being used to provide a drip to a sick and emaciated patient.

ART90927

[Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop]

This drawing depicts a charicature of Sir Weary Dunlop on a lounge chair it was drawn on his eightieth birthday.

ART90932

A folio of drypoints from drawings made in captivity 1942-1945: embossed olive-green faux leather volume containing 35 pages of prints and one watercolour of figures, landscapes and vessels

A folio of drypoints from drawings made in captivity 1942-1945 on the Burma-Thailand railway. The cover is embossed olive green paper (faux leather), stitched with green paper and lined with green shot silk. The volume contains 35 pages, with 33 prints and one watercolour of figures, landscapes and...

ART90933

["Weary" E.E. Dunlop]

Sketch of Weary Dunlop. Verification of the date: John Frith recalled making the crayon caricature of Weary in August 1934. The event was the homecoming of the Australian Rugby team after defeating the All Blacks. The celebrations were held at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney in August 1934.

ART91019

Return to River Kwai

A river scene, with small low buildings at water's edge on right, trees behind, and mountains in background.

ART91030

Ghosts! Weary Dunlop's clinic

Prisoners of war awaiting attention, seated on the grass outside the tent where Dunlop conducted his medical clinic.

ART91031

Film

Death railway

Relates the story of the building by prisoners of the Japanese of the Burma-Siam Railway during the 1939-1945 war. Uses interviews with survivors, contemporary colour footage of the area and B&W archival footage. Interviewed are: Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop; Frank Rich; Norm Anderton; Lance Lowe; Ken...

F10252

POW's in Thailand

Shot of Lieutenant Colonel C A McEachern senior officer in Thailand. Lieutenant Colonel C G W Anderson, MC, VC, recipient of the only Australian Victoria Cross in the Malayan campaign. Lieutenant Colonel A E Coates and Lieutenant Colonel E E Dunlop, who were known to all troops in Thailand for the...

F01539

Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop: Interviews for the Channel 10 program, "Surgeon of the Railway", 1987

Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop discusses his experiences as a Prisoner of War during the Second World War. This interview was conducted in 1987 for a television program called, "Surgeon of the Railway", broadcast on Channel 10. This interview has eight parts.

F09395

Private Record

Heraldry

Section of ulcerated tibia removed from a British POW : Lieutenant Colonel E E Dunlop, 2/2 CCS

Large sequestrum (section of dead bone) from a tibia (shin bone) damaged by a tropical ulcer. The bone has irregular jagged edges and has been partially cut with a saw near a blue stain.

REL26678

Billy Can : Lieutenant Colonel E E Dunlop, 2/2 CCS

Galvanized iron billy can with a top wired edge, a Pitsburg vertical seam and a hand hammered knocked edge for the base. It has a wire handle.

RELAWM31377.001

Sound

Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop as doctor in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps 1939-1946, including the period as a prisoner of war 1942-1945, interviewed by Dr Hank Nelson

Interview with Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop relating to his experiences in the Second World War. A transcript of this recording may be available. For further information please contact the Sound section.

S00358

Ernest Edward 'Weary' Dunlop OBE as Commanding Officer 2/2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station and a prisoner of the Japanese, 1939-1945, interviewed by Tim Bowden

Ernest Edward 'Weary' Dunlop OBE as Commanding Officer 2/2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station and a prisoner of the Japanese, 1939-1945, interviewed by Tim Bowden A transcript of this recording may be available. For further information please contact the Sound section.

S03033

Three 'Turn of the Century' ABC Radio Programs featuring Dr Peter Stanley discussing aspects of Australia's military involvement in war and peacekeeping throughout the 1900s

PROGRAM 1: Dr Stanley discuses attitudes to war and Australia's committment to war; Australian's went to the Boer War (South Africa) with idea that war was romantic and adventurous but during the century there was a changing view of war; men went to the Great War initially with enthusiasm but the...

S02107

Private Thomas James Guyer talks about his experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War, 1942-1945

Address to the Masonic Lodge, Junee, NSW about his experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese in Singapore and the Burma Thailand Railway 1942-1944 and later Japan 1944-1945

S04240

Photograph

117362

Lieutenant Colonel E. E. Dunlop, Commanding Officer 2/2nd Casualty Clearing Station (right), and Lieutenant Colonel A. E. Coates, Chief Medical Officer, Nakom Paton Prisoner of War Hospital (left) outside their office at the Medical Headquarters, Recovered Allied Prisoner of War and Internees Unit,...

117362

117361

BANGKOK, THAILAND. 1945-09-15. LIEUTENANT COLONEL E.E. DUNLOP, COMMANDING OFFICER, 2/2ND CASUALTY CLEARING STATION CONFERRING WITH LIEUTENANT COLONEL A.E. COATES, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, NAKOM PATON PRISONER OF WAR HOSPITAL, IN HIS OFFICE AT THE MEDICAL HEADQUARTERS, RECOVERED ALLIED PRISONERS OF...

117361

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.