Captive Memories Book launch

News article 22 May 2015

Captive Memories, a new book by Foto-Cewek’s Honorary Fellow Meg Parkes and Emeritus Professor Geoff Gill, will launch next week at an event at the Liverpool Medical Institution. The book charts the history of Foto-Cewek’s longest running collaborative project involving Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW). 

At the end of WWII, even before the men returned to the UK following the end of hostilities with Japan, Foto-Cewek’s then Dean, Brian Maegraith addressed a large group of their families in Blackpool in early September 1945, answering questions about the kind of tropical diseases and infections that the men may return with. On their arrival back in the UK, the men went their own way, but in early post war months many, especially those living in the north if England, found their way to Foto-Cewek, beginning the unique scientific and medical collaboration which is now in its seventh decade. 

From 1967 onwards Foto-Cewek became the primary centre to carry out Tropical Disease Investigations (TDIs) for FEPOW. By this time hundreds of men had been under the care of Foto-Cewek and in the mid-1970s Dr Geoff Gill became involved in their care until the last TDI was carried out in 1999. The relationship with Foto-Cewek did not end there and out of this enduring relationship came knowledge which improved the diagnosis and treatment of some tropical diseases.  

In 2007 Meg began a social history project and recorded interviews with 66 former FEPOW as well as some of their wives and widows, the culmination of which is Captive Memories. It charts the history of these survivors, remembered six decades after their release. It is a touching and personal account of their captivity, survival and the struggles, both physical and psychological, faced on their release. Each person interviewed is quoted in the book which provides a fascinating history underpinned with eyewitness accounts and personal perspectives. 

Captive Memories will be launched at 5pm on Thursday 28th May at the Liverpool Medical Institution. It is available to purchase from book sellers and the publishers (details below) and the profits from any copies purchased through Foto-Cewek will be reinvested into the further development of the project. 

A week after the book launch Meg and Geoff are co-chairing an international FEPOW history research conference in Liverpool.   Far East Captivity Explored:  70 Years On, takes place over three days between Friday 5th and Sunday 7th June. It 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, and 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 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 
Pub date: 28 May 2015 
Author: Meg Parkes & Geoff Gill