Dr Rowley Richards

‘They held the doctor responsible for people being sick.’

28 June 2020

Today we remember Dr Rowley Richards, who was a prisoner of war (POW) of the Japanese of the Burma-Thailand Railroad. As the camp doctor, he remembered bargaining with the Japanese every day about the health and well-being of his patients.

Dr Rowley Richards — They held the doctor responsible for people being sick.

Dr Rowley Richards audio file (MP4 24.02 MB)

Dr Rowley Richards audio script

75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War

Audio actuality

“Fellow Citizens, the War is over” — (The Hon J B Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia)

On the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War, Australia Remembers Dr Rowley Richards, who ended up as a prisoner of war of the Japanese of the Burma-Thailand Railroad.

As the camp doctor, he remembered bargaining with his Japanese captors every day about the health and well-being of his patients…

Rowley Richards

With the Japs, they were completely and utterly uncooperative. They used to demand so many would have to go out to work. If there was a particular epidemic on at the time, and we fell short, we’d have a battle.

Occasionally, a Jap private would come out and do his own sick parade — and we’d hold a little auction with each one. And he’d say, “This man alright”, and I’d say “No — 5 days no duty. He’s got malaria … you feel the spleen”. “Alright — 1 day no duty”. “No — 5 days”. “3 days”. “Right — Sold!”.

And then we’d go on to the next one. And we had a daily battle with them. They held the doctor responsible for people being sick. You know, it was my fault that they were sick, and we copped lots of bashings because of somebody they’d want to send to work … but that was par for the course.

Saturday, August 15 marks the 75th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War. Let’s pay our respects to that amazing generation of Australians.

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