Today is the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific.
On this day in 1945 my father was on board the MV Duntroon, as head of a
Prisoner of War Relief Unit, together with a contingent of Australian
General Hospital (Army) nurses. The vessel was bound for India, the
mission of those on board being to aid the POWs being liberated from the
Japanese in Burma.
When news of the Japanese surrender came through, the vessel was diverted to Singapore, arriving there
on the day Lord Louis Mountbatten accepted the formal surrender from
the Japanese commander. They set up headquarters in Changi Gaol, and
began the dreadful business of assessing the physical and psychological
state of the prisoners in Changi and those coming down from the
Burma-Thailand Railway and the outlying camps.
The matron in charge of the AGH contingent was the remarkable Madge
Brown, whom I got to know well in my school days as she took up a
position straight after the war as administrator of student
accommodation at the New England University College/University of New
England, a position she still held when I left Armidale in 1966. Madge
had an eventful war: among her other claims to fame was the fact that
she had been in Tobruk during the siege. It was a privilege to have
For more on Madge Brown, see Ida Madge Brown (1904-2009).