Research & Articles by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired), JP
Research, Interviews and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year.
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Captain R.L. (Lloyd) Cahill - NX 35149
Medical Officer 2/19 Battalion and Medical Officer F Force

Lloyd Cahill was born in Sydney in 1914. He grew up in Rushcutters Bay.
He studied for his medical degree at Sydney University and graduated in 1938. Lloyd enlisted in the AIF on 5 June 1940 and was appointed Medical Officer in the 2/19 Battalion.

His unit was sent to Malaya in February 1941. The unit went straight to the Malayan mainland when it arrived in Singapore on 18 February 1941..Initially, it went to the west coast (Port Dickson/Malacca etc), then to the east coast (Mersing/ Jemalung) and on the 16th of January 1942 back to the west coast to Muar/Bakri/Parit Sulong. 2/19 Battalion was almost decimated in the Japanese advance. Two of Lloyd’s fellow medical officers Captains John Taylor (2/30 Bn) and Victor Brand (2/29 Bn) were awarded the Military Cross. It is probably the case that more could, or should have, have been recognized in this manner. At one stage Lloyd was thought to have been killed. However, he had been bringing six of his wounded to the Field Ambulance. It had taken them the best part of a week to get there. They had started from the battle area by truck, but, were stopped with their evacuation route being blocked (the Japanese having bypassed the unit’s defensive position). They had to complete the evacuation by foot. Following capitulation and becoming a POW, Lloyd spent some time on a Shell Company Island. This was fortunate, as there was a small hospital on the island and Lloyd took a lot of instruments and drugs, which he subsequently carried up to northern Thailand.

In April 1943, Lloyd was one of the 10 medical officers (and one dentist) who were sent from Singapore to Thailand as members of “F” Force. “F” Force was a force of 7,000 POWs, 3,400 British and 3,600 Australians who were sent to Thailand. The force was moved to Thailand in about 10 train loads, 30 men crammed into the steel rail trucks which measured about 18 feet by 7 feet. The journey took 4 nights, 5 days with spasmodic meal and toilet stops. On arrival at Banpong (the disembarkation point in Thailand) “F” Force was then force-marched 300 kilometres over 18 nights to northern Thailand where they were put to work building the railway and an adjacent service road. On the march north Lloyd passed through “Weary” Dunlop’s camp. This was at Hintok Mountain Camp which is about 150 kilometres from Banpong.

Lloyd was mainly located at Shimo (South) Songkurai and at Songkurai.. In this area he had contact with Majors Bruce Hunt and Bon Rogers, Captains John Taylor, Colin Juttner, Frank Cahill (no relation, from Victoria) Peter Hendry, Victor Brand and Roy Mills. He also had contact with Ken Marshall and Gordon Nichol, who he regarded highly as medical orderlies.

“F” Force had many deaths. The British death rate was 59% and the Australian death rate was 29%. Shortly after arrival at Shimo Songkurai the first outbreak of cholera occurred. At this stage they had to create an isolation area known as “Cholera Hill”. This is depicted on page 121 of George Aspinal’s book “Changi Photographer”. At this camp there was need for innovation to keep the dysentery and cholera patients alive. They were infused with saline solution. The situation was desperate, and river water was mixed with rock salt, which was stolen from the Japanese cookhouse. In this camp there was a British medical officer by the name of Wilson. He was a pathologist who had a microscope with him and was able to do crude matching of blood. Wilson was later Professor of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University. Also in this camp was an Infantry Lieutenant who was a chemist. He was also able to assist and, of necessity, developed skill as an anaesthetist.

Shimo Songkurai was later closed, with the 2,000 desperately ill being moved into Burma at a spot named Tambaya (This camp was opened by Major Bruce Hunt, who was assisted by Capt Frank Cahill). Then Lloyd moved to Songkurai, where he re-established contact with Captain Peter Hendry, the first Australian Medical Officer in that camp.

On completion of the railway, Lloyd moved to the southern end of the railway, then on to Bangkok, where he remained for several weeks before moving to Singapore in an old tramp ship.

Post War Lloyd, who came from a family where three brothers were doctors, settled into civilian life. Following his experiences on the Railway he was keen to specialize in eyes.
Following a period at St Vincent’s Hospital, he went to England for a little more than three years. He returned to St Vincent’s Hospital as an ophthalmologist. He retired from the hospital in 1979 and then continued in private practice for approximately ten years.

In 2004 he resides in Pymble in the house which has been the family home for over 60 years. Co incidentally, finance for the house was obtained by Lloyd through his fellow “F “ Force officer Fred Stahl, who was the State manager for New South Wales of the AMP Society.

By Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP following discussion with Doctor Cahill.
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