Fighting death

With Angus in the ulcer ward lay four hundred men. None of them were able to work. Between bouts of fever I used to go round and carry Angus out under the trees, give him a wash and a shave and try to cheer him up … Every time I went near that ulcer hut I vomited what food was in my stomach, the stench and sorry sight was so horrible.
Private John Devon, Royal Australian Army Service Corps,
(Private Angus Ramsay died on 27 October 1943)

Medical officers confronted a terrifying range of tropical diseases and conditions resulting from malnutrition, many unfamiliar to them. They treated huge numbers of patients with pathetically few drugs or instruments, improvising when they could.

Many prisoners owed their lives to the skill and dedication of the doctors, chaplains, medical orderlies, and volunteers who worked in the hospital huts.

AWM P00761.013
Major Arthur Moon operating in the hospital hut at Tamaung, Thailand, in 1943.

AWM P01433.021
An Australian prisoner of war in Burma or Thailand in 1945. He bears the signs of three years of malnutrition and hard labour. On his legs are the scars of tropical ulcers.

AWM 157874
An operation being performed at the hospital at Nakom Paton, in Thailand.

AWM 118961
By 1944 the hospital at Nakom Paton had become a huge medical complex, run by and for prisoners.


Prisoners of the Japanese