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Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, River Kwai, Thailand
, c.1987 (printed 2003)

by Robert McFarlane

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 27.7 cm x 35.0 cm, image: 20.1 cm x 30.0 cm)

Sir Edward (‘Weary’) Dunlop AC CMG OBE (1907–1993) was a surgeon, who as a prisoner-of-war on the Burma Railway used his medical skills to save the lives of a great number of allied POWs. Brought up in country Victoria, Dunlop studied medicine on a scholarship at the University of Melbourne, where he gained the nickname ‘Weary’. Having qualified as a surgeon in 1937, Dunlop enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps at the end of 1939. In 1942 he was captured by the Japanese in Java. Transferred to the Burma-Thailand Railway, Dunlop set up a jungle hospital and, without medical supplies and with improvised instruments, treated prisoners who were suffering from tropical diseases, malnutrition, exhaustion and the effects of torture. After the war, Dunlop practised as a cancer specialist in Melbourne and pioneered treatments for throat cancer. President of the International College of Surgeons, he remained supportive of ex-POWs and was involved in humanitarian programs both in Australia and throughout Asia. Dunlop was given a State funeral in Melbourne. This portrait came about when, in 1987, Robert McFarlane was commissioned to take stills of the making of a documentary about Dunlop and his wartime experiences.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2013
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2013.60