Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop AC CMG OBE - In Memoriam

Surgeon and Prisoner of War

1976 Australian of the Year

Born in northern Victoria, Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop studied medicine and surgery at the University of Melbourne. During World War Two he was posted to a hospital in Java shortly before it fell to Japanese forces. In 1943 he commanded the first contingent of Australian prisoners of war sent to work on the infamous Thai-Burma railway. He provided legendary leadership in the horrific conditions of the labour camps and was described by one of his men as ‘a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering.’

After the war Dunlop specialised in gastro-oesophageal surgery and pioneered new surgical techniques. He also promoted reconciliation with Japan and was President of the Australian-Asia Foundation. He gave his time to many important organisations, including the Drug and Alcoholism Dependency Foundation and the Anti-Cancer Council.

When advised of his Australian of the Year award, Dunlop modestly remarked that 1976 must have been ‘a very lean vintage.’