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VJ Day Marked With Launch of POW Project On Merseyside

August 13, 2009

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been awarded £48,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of its ongoing work with ex-Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPOW) to create an archive of oral histories from surviving prisoners.  The grant will expand this work through a website and interaction project that will allow many more of their stories to be told and preserved for future generations.

The two year project is led by LSTM’s Professor Geoff Gill with partners including the Imperial War Museum, Wirral’s Learning Lighthouse and Pensby High School for Girls.

LSTM’s longstanding relationship with ex-FEPOW dates back to the end of the World War II. Many of these men were stationed in Merseyside prior to traveling to the Far East and returned to the UK via Liverpool.  Those suffering from tropical diseases were admitted to LSTM’s tropical ward and treated by specialists.  In all more than 2,000 prisoners were treated, enabling ground-breaking research into the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as strongyloidiasis still affecting some over thirty years after infection.

Professor Gill explained:  “Over the past two years a group of 60 surviving veterans all in their late 80′s have given oral history interviews to LSTM.  They were keen to shed light on their collective and personal experiences both during and after their captivity to prevent them from being overlooked by history.  Having added their voices they have offered future generations a unique insight into the effect of long-term captivity.  This is something that can only happen through the development of appropriate and authentic learning resources.

“A dedicated website will feature learning material aimed at GCSE and A-Level students, alongside extracts from some of the 60 interviews.  We will be working with a group of Year 10 pupils from Pensby High School for Girls who have already studied the FEPOW diaries of a Wirral doctor. They will have the opportunity to meet and interview former FEPOW through specially designed workshops facilitated by the Wirral-based Learning Lighthouse CLC, they will be able to record the encounter via digital video cameras and this material, together with the work that is generated from it, will contribute to a scheme of work for future use in schools.  This website will eventually be promoted to the public, education professionals, researchers, family historians and to FEPOW history research groups, allowing further projects to grow, from what will be a legacy for future generations.” he added.

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