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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An Account By Lt John Ross - Vx39036
About Dental Officer Capt. John Rosson - Vx48269.

John Rosson was a dentist in Selarang Barracks. He managed to stake a claim to a one-car garage which, with a medical officer Capt. John Sierby, which they used as their surgery.

One day the Japanese Camp Commandant, Captain Takahashi, called on John Rosson in his ‘dental surgery’ and commanded him to attend a painful abscess in his tooth. When John inspected the abscessed tooth, his eyes boggled at the size of its huge gold crown. It looked very attractive to a half-starved dentist. The tooth would have to come out and John agreed to extract it the next day. He then laid plans to win the gold.

Captain Takahashi duly arrived at the surgery in the morning, his courage primed with saki. Drawing the tooth carefully with all his professional expertise, John casually tossed it into the spittoon beside the chair and down went the tooth with its crown of gold. The spittoon consisted of a heavy piece of rusty two-inch metal pipe with an inverted metal light shade on top to serve as a bowl. The pipe went through the floor, deep into the slushy mud below.

Captain Takahashi, startled to see his tooth tossed away so nonchalantly was about to comment when John quickly placed a swab in his mouth and instructed him to bite on it to stop the flow of blood. He busied himself swabbing and attending the damaged gum for quite some time. “Taka’ could say nothing. When he had prolonged the task long enough to take Taka’s mind off the subterfuge, he gave him a mouth rinse which, in due course, followed the tooth down the pipe.

By this time, with the help of John and the saki, Taka’s pain had been relieved. He thanked John for his trouble and strutted out the entrance, making no mention of his tooth. After sufficient time had lapsed, John lifted off the spittoon, drew up the metal tube and recovered the tooth from the wad of cotton gauze he had plugged a little way down the pipe. John melted down the gold into an unrecognizable lump, which he sold to one of the Korean guards for a fine price. A victory to the Allies!

This story was provided by John Ross who makes the following comment. “On my return home I studied dentistry and never for one moment have I regretted it”. As at 2004 John lives at Bibra Lake WA. He has approved reproducing the article as too has Colin Finkemeyer the author of the book “It Happened To Us”.


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