Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Edward Dunlop

I'm not sure who Edward Dunlop is, although I have a feeling he might be a bushranger. Or he might just be from the bushranger days. Maybe he's an artist?

I don't know.

I shall go see.

He was NOT a bushranger.

He was a surgeon.

And he wasn't around during the bushranger days. Although I'm not sure which of the years were big for bushrangers....

Lord Wiki says the Bushranger time started around 1788 and ended close to the 1900's. The big years were the 1850's, 1860's, and 1870's.

That has nothing to do with Dunlop though.

Baby Edward Dunlop was born on 12 July 1907 in Wangaratta Victoria.

Google Maps shows Wangaratta to be about three hours north east of Melbourne. Very close to the town is Glenrowan. This was the place that Ned Kelly was executed. Ah, so there is SOME connection to bushrangers.  Sort of.

Another famous person born in Wangaratta is Isobelle Carmody. She's the author of the Obernewtyn Chronicles. I read one of those books.

Lord Wiki says, Dunlop was the second of one child to his parents James and Alice. I'm not sure what that means. Maybe they had another child earlier and it died? That's my best guess.

When Dunlop was finished with school, he did an apprenticeship in pharmacy. Then he moved to Melbourne, and studied at the Victorian College of Pharmacy. Lord Wiki says this is part of the University of Melbourne; but their website says they're part of Monash University. Is Monash part of the University of Melbourne? I'm very confused. I can't easily find anything that says they're connected....

Lord Wiki says the school was originally with The University of Melbourne...or tried to connect with it. But then it ended up with Monash. Although this drama all happened in the late 1980's. That's way after Dunlop went there. When Dunlop was there, it was private. I think Lord Wiki is confused about the University of Melbourne thing. I'm going to ignore him.

Let's just say Dunlop did well in whatever school he went to. He got good grades, AND he was good at sports.

He played Rugby. He actually played for the National team. The Wallabies. He is known as being the first Victorian-born person on the team.

In school, although he was busy with studying and sports, he managed to also be part of the school cadets. He didn't stay with it for long though. His studies got in the way. In 1929 he quit. But he reenlisted again in 1935. He joined the Australian Army Medical Corps as captain.

In 1938, Dunlop went off on a ship heading to London. He played the role of medical officer. Once he got to London, he used that opportunity to do some more schooling. He attended St Bartholomew's Medical School.

Dunlop participated in the action of World War II. He worked in the Middle East for awhile....had a mobile surgical unit.

He did some stuff in Greece.

He did some stuff in Indonesia.

Then he went off to Japan.

Japan is where the bad stuff happened.

No, wait. He didn't go off to Japan, and THEN the bad stuff happened. He was captured BY the Japanese in Indonesia. They took him to Japan where he became a prisoner of war.

No. No. No. I'm totally messing this up.

He didn't go to Japan.

They kept Dunlop in other parts of Asia. First he was a prisoner in Indonesia, then Singapore, and then Thailand. My parents went to Singapore and Thailand a few months ago. They saw some of the Japanese prison camps. I don't think the camps were very lovely.

Dunlop worked on the Burma-Thailand railway. He and the other prisoners were treated like slaves. They weren't given enough food. They were beaten. Disease was prevalent. Life was horrible.

I feel that sometimes we gloss over the negative history of Japan. Or maybe it's just an American thing. I grew up seeing the Germans as being the big bad guys. And then of course America was horrible because we imprisoned innocent Japanese people in detention camps. Plus, we killed innocent Japanese people with the awful big bombs.

I remember reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. That's the story of the young Linkgirl who gets cancer from the radiation of the bombs. It's really sad.

I don't ever remember hearing about the bad that the Japanese did though. I'm sure we talked about Pearl Harbour. But I think that's about it. Pearl Harbour is bad, but if you compare that to what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it seems so small in comparison.

In graduate school, I took the children/adolescent literature class. We read something called Year of Impossible Goodbyes. It tells the story of some of the horrible things the Japanese did to the Koreans. It really opened my mind to things. Before that I saw the Japanese as these victims of World War II. They miraculously overcame it all and brought us Hello Kitty and Mario Bros. But now I know they have some very sinister stuff in their history.

Granted, my ignorance might not have been shared by all Americans. I didn't spend hours researching like I do these days. The little I learned came from high school social studies. And I don't think I actually paid much attention. My teachers probably DID talk about the bad stuff that the Japanese did. I might have ignored them.

Back to Dunlop. Lord Wiki says he was a hero during his days of imprisonment. Lord Wiki says, Dunlop defied his captors, gave hope to the sick and eased the anguish of the dying.

After the war, Dunlop could have spent his time and energy hating the Japanese. Instead he forgave his captors and worked towards promoting better relations between Asia and Australia.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. I shall go look elsewhere now.....

There's an Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation. It seems they help veterans and their descendants. They have a biography of Dunlop.

The good news seems his brother did NOT die. I don't know what Lord Wiki was trying to say. According to this site, Dunlop had an older brother named Alan.

As a child, Dunlop was attracted to the excitement of war. I wonder how common that feeling is in children today. I think in general, our society is much more anti-war. Even those who support war seem to see it as a necessary evil. But are children attracted to it still? I'm sure they PLAY least some of them. But are there kids today in countries like America and Australia that actually wish to one day go fight in a war?

The website says Dunlop was smart, a good student, loved to read, but was also humble. I'm sure he was all those things. However, since the website is in honor of him, I'm doubting they're going to report any of the negative.

I think I'm getting a bit more clear about the school stuff. I think he may have studied at two at one. And then he also studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. That makes sense. You can't really become a surgeon with a pharmacy degree. Why didn't I think of that before?

They have a photo of Dunlop on the site. You know who he kind of looks like....Liev Shreiber. If they do a movie about Dunlop, maybe Shreiber should play him. He can learn the accent from his domestic partner.

The website says that Dunlop could have escaped from the Japanese, but he refused to leave his patients. Ah. They captured a hospital. My goodness. What did they do with all the patients? Wouldn't they be too injured to work?

It's estimated that a hundred thousand lives were lost building the railroad. Lord Wiki lists the details. Most of the people who died were Asian civilians....probably Thai and Burmese people. Around six thousand British people died, and about three thousand Australians.

The website says that they didn't have ample medical supplies. Dunlop and his team had to improvise. They made needles and artificial limbs out of bamboo. Wow. I'm impressed.

Dunlop once said, I have a conviction that it's only when you are put at full stretch that you can realise your full potential. It seems this guy not only tolerated adversity. He thrived in it.

I think Dunlop is one of those superhuman heroes. How can any of us normal people live up to that? He almost sounds like an angel on earth. If I was in a bad situation like that, I'd be so grateful to have someone like him nearby.

He stood up to the Japanese at times, risking his own life. The consequence was sometimes torture. Once he was forced to kneel for many hours while holding a heavy stone. I find it hard to kneel for a few minutes....without carrying any heavy stones.

A young man was going to be executed by the Japanese. He was seen as useless because he had no hands and was blind. Dunlop stood between the man and the weapons, saying the Japanese would have to kill him first. The Japanese backed away. The website says they didn't want to face the consequences of killing a hero.

After the war, Dunlop got married. He and his wife ended up having two sons.

He died in 1993.

There was a play about Dunlop--based on a book about him. Weary: The Story of Edward Dunlop. Weary was his nickname...not a very apt one. The Australian Stage website wasn't too impressed with the production. They call it a missed opportunity, and they say it's oddly passionless.

Here's an advertisement for the play.

Here's a video with Dunlop talking about cancer. He has an interesting voice.

Here's a video that someone made about Dunlop. It's called The Quiet Lions. Oh man. It looks really good, but YouTube has only the first part.

This website has a memorial to Dunlop. Oh. It's that foundation site again. I just missed this page.

They have some quotes from him. I like this one: Life is no brief candle, but a splendid torch to be made burn ever more brightly.

That's beautiful...really beautiful. Inspiring.

Doing this research gets a little confusing because there's also a racehorse trainer that's named Edward Dunlop. I was looking for more quotes from Dunlop and couldn't understand why so many of them were about racing. Why would a war hero say, The various injuries have been well-documented, but she's over that now. If she can run well, and hopefully win on Saturday, that would be fantastic.

Anyway. Yeah. That came from a DIFFERENT Dunlop...a British guy.

I really enjoyed reading about the Australian Dunlop. He's a true hero in my eyes. I have a photo of a statue of him in my screensaver slideshow. I've collected many Australian photos and stuck them in there. I've forgotten who a lot of the people are. I would see Dunlop and he meant nothing to me. I had no idea who he was. I just knew he was Australian. Well, now I know. And I shall be happy each time I see him. He will inspire me, and remind me that we need to be brave, strong, and helpful during adversity.


  1. Perhaps best known here as 'Weary' Dunlop. Sorry if I missed that. Is the statue in the photo the one nearby to us that has him wearing a red flower in his lapel? It is very popular.

  2. He was and is best known by Aussies as Weary Dunlop. Legend.

  3. Andrew: I'm not sure if it's the same statue. Probably?

    Annelisa: I really enjoyed learning about him.

  4. I think weary came about from the name Dunlop which is a "tire" brand here in Oz (geddit?) and also probably from the Australian habit of nicknaming a person with a deliberately ironic descriptor (e.g. a big bloke might get the nickname "Tiny", a dark haired chap might get "Snowy" - although there are better e.g.s, I can't think of any at the moment).

    There's an ABC (OZ Broadcasting - TV miniseries called Changi that I would recommend about what happened in Japanese POW camps and the PTSD aftermath back in civilian Australia that has a character that I think is based on 'Weary'. It's a few years old now. Changi is the name of a (if not the) major POW camp in Singapore (and eerily now the name of Singapore's airport).

    'Roy' from Roy and H.G., a famous comic duo in Australia, actually wrote the screenplay, further revealing his brillance. They go by the names Rampaging Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson when doing their schtick and started with "This Sporting Life" on radio, I think. They finally made it to TV in time to do a great daily comedy wrap up of 2000 Sydney Olympics events but I've forgotten their actual names and I'm not sure if it was seen internationally.

  5. Martin,

    I wonder if I could watch the miniseries online somewhere. I'll look for it.

    Well, I just looked on ABC website. They don't have the video to watch, but they do have information about the POW camps.

    Good thinking about the nickname thing. I've heard that about Australians. The example I've heard is calling a person with red hair "Blue". I liked your examples : )