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The Oral History Project

Meg Parkes interviewing FEPOW Maurice KinmonthIn March 2007, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in partnership with the Imperial War Museum's sound archive, began a two-year oral history project concerned with Far East prisoners of war (FEPOW) experiences.

The aim was to find and interview up to 50 British FEPOW all of whom had survived over three and a half years in captivity under the Japanese between December 1941 and March 1942. Doctors and scientists at LSTM have been concerned with the health of FEPOW for over six decades (read about this here).

The FEPOW Oral History Project focuses on the British experience of Far East captivity. The imperative was to capture, before it was too late, the memories and long-term perspective of veterans who are now in their late 80s and 90s.

The Project was intended to be as broad as possible: interviewing men across all services – Army, Navy, Air Force and Merchant Navy – all ranks and, importantly, as many areas of captivity as possible.

Finding FEPOW to interview was a challenge. In the first instance, some FEPOW who were known to LSTM were invited to take part and most accepted. In turn these men introduced others who were willing to be approached. Most men who were invited to take part agreed without hesitation. Appeals were published in FEPOW club newsletters (though few clubs now exist, most having been disbanded in 2005 due to dwindling numbers). FEPOW history research groups and websites also placed appeals for FEPOW to contact LSTM.

In a little over 14 months 62 FEPOW were interviewed: officers and Other Ranks of all the services, men who were in captivity from Burma to Borneo, from Sumatra to New Guinea and Japan (including a few from the more remote corners of South East Asia), have taken part in the Project.

All, without exception, did so because they wanted to add their voice to those who had previously shared their experiences. All of these men felt that in the future professional and family historians, researchers, students and pupils may be able to learn something from the first-hand accounts of those who had survived captivity in the Far East during World War Two.

This website is home to the FEPOW Oral History Study. In addition it brings together other FEPOW-related research carried out by staff at LSTM.

In the FEPOW Profile section, is a list of all participants. Here will be found brief biographical details and a short audio extract from each FEPOW who has given an interview to the Study. (NB the audio clips are being uploaded in stages, so if you don't find one check back later).