Launch of the new book Captive Memories at the Liverpool Medical Institution

News article 29 May 2015

LSTM’s Honorary Research Fellow Meg Parkes and Emeritus Professor Geoff Gill launched their new book Captive Memories at the Liverpool Medical Institution last night, during an event with about 100 invited guests, many of whom had been involved or supportive of the project and the development of the book. 

Captive Memories charts the history of LSTM’s longest running collaborative project involving ex Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW). It is based on 66 oral histories that were undertaken by Meg as part of a social history project which begun in 2007. Followed by an education project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2009 that involved local school children and resulted in the website. LSTM’s relationship with ex-FEPOW and their families began informally at the end of WWII and was formalised in 1967 when LSTM became the primary centre to carry out Tropical Disease Investigations. 

Both Meg and Geoff spoke at the event, acknowledging those involved and paying particular tribute to 97 year-old Tom Boardman, a sergeant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps when captured who contributed to the book, and Merle Hesp, who’s late husband Harry had been captured in 1942 while working on a merchant vessel transporting troops, both of whom attended the launch. 

Advance copies of the book have been sent to surviving FEPOW and to the families of those who are now deceased and Meg has been delighted by their response: “It has been a privilege to meet these men and their families and I am extremely grateful to all who took part. Our aim in writing the book was to tell their story, to ensure that their voices were heard as they speak so clearly across the generations. I am pleased that so many of those involved have contacted me to thank me for the portrayal of their experiences and I hope that all who read the book will come to appreciate that the  experiences of these men and their families should never be forgotten.” 

Captive Memories is a touching and personal account of the men’s captivity, survival and the struggles, both physical and psychological, faced on their release. Each of the 66 men interviewed (and several wives and widows) is quoted in the book which provides a fascinating history underpinned with eyewitness accounts and personal perspectives. It is available to purchase from book sellers and the publishers (details below) and the profits from any copies purchased through LSTM will be reinvested into the further development of the project. 

Between Friday 5th and Sunday 7th June, Meg and Geoff are co-chairing an international FEPOW history research conference in Liverpool.   Far East Captivity & the Aftermath Explored: 70 Years On, will be attended by three FEPOW veterans and three former child internees, together with delegates representing many FEPOW families as well as academics and historians.  There will an international line-up of speakers covering military history, medical aspects of building the jungle railways of Thailand and Sumatra. Among the speakers is the author Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the scriptwriter of the film The Railway Man, based on the book of the same name by ex-FEPOW Eric Lomax. He is joined in his talk by Eric Lomax’s daughter Charmaine McMeekin. 

Captive Memories

Price: £12.99 
Imprint: Palatine Books 
ISBN: 978-1-910837-00-9 
Binding: paperback 
Extent: 272 pages 
Format: 243 x 169mm, with flaps 
Illustrations: c40 
BIC code: HBWQ 
Category: history/war/medicine Audience: general and academic 
Author: Meg Parkes & Geoff Gill