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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Redmond Stuart Parnell Sheedy SX5435
Sergeant 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion – Post War Surgeon

Redmond (Red) Sheedy was born in Adelaide on 26 November 1919. Before the out break of war he worked in the South Australian Railways as a youth porter. As with many people he put his age up when joining. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Forces on 17 June 1940. On enlistment he advised he would prefer a non-combatant role, as he felt he had no hate in himself and was unsuited to an aggressive role. In the event, he was allocated to the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion (2/3 MGBn). With that unit he underwent training at Woodside and was then sent to the Middle East in April 1941 as part of the 7th Division. He was promoted to sergeant and worked in the Regimental Aid Post (RAP). In the Middle East he firstly worked with a Medical Officer Captain Pellew (it seems one of two brothers who served in the war as Medical officers) and later worked with Captain Tim Godlee (RMO 2/3 MGBn) in the Middle East, Java and on the Burma Thailand Railway.

In January 1942, as a member of 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion, he travelled on the Orcades from Port Said in Egypt. The troops understood they were returning to Australia. It was on the Orcades that he had his first contact with Major (Weary) Dunlop (then second in Command of the 2/2 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS). It is well known that the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion, and 2/2 Pioneer Battalion and others were sacrificed in Java to honour a British undertaking to the Dutch Government to help them defend the Netherlands East Indies against the Japs. In due course, as a member of 2/3 MGBn, he became a Prisoner of War in Java in March 1942. He was in several POW Camps in Java until January 1943, when he became one of 875 POWs who left Java and travelled to Thailand as a member of a group of POWs known as “Dunlop” Force (Weary Dunlop had now been promoted to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel) . This Force went by boat to Singapore, where they were for about 14 days. They then had a 5 days wretched journey to Thailand in steel rail trucks. Upon arrival in Banpong on 24 January, the force was initially trucked to Tarsao. The journey took about 9 hours. The following day the force was trucked to the near vicinity of Konyu Camp. It was at Konyu that Red wanted to work in the Medical area. However, as there were 58 Casualty Clearing Station personnel in Dunlop Force, the force had an abundance of medical personnel and outsiders were not needed. It was at Konyu that Red planned to escape to the Burma in the west. He swam over the Kwai Noi River and did a reconnaissance, then fashioned a raft to use in his escape to the West. Lt Col Dunlop was aware of his plan, but, before being able to implement it the Force was moved to Hintok Mountain Camp. In Hintok Mountain Camp in July 1943 he was put into the hospital suffering from cholera, exhaustion and nervous prostration. He seems to have been one of the first POWs to be given intravenous saline from the still developed by Major Jock Clarke a dentist from Queensland. (This still was one of many innovations, by mainly medical personnel, on the Burma Thailand Railway.)

Following completion of the Railway in October 1943, Red ended up at the huge hospital camp Nakhon Pathom (for 10,000 patients). In this camp he became part of the medical team and ran the chemist shop and, amongst other things, distilled alcohol. He also took the opportunity to learn French and Latin which stood him in good stead when he undertook studies Post War. He was still at this hospital camp, which was commanded by Lt Col Albert Coates, at the end of the war. He was discharged from the Army in January 1946.

Post war Red undertook study and gained admission to the Adelaide University Medical School. He graduated as a doctor in 1951. In 1958 he enrolled at Edinburgh University and there was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS Ed) in 1959. !n 1973 he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). He worked for many years as a surgeon at Port Lincoln until his retirement in 1981. He then turned his hand to another, but somewhat related field, being an expert witness in Medicolegal matters. In this area he was aided by an ability to write short hand, which he had learned when he was 17/18 years. In 2005 Red lives in the Adelaide suburb of Glenside.

Article written by Lt Col (Retired) Peter Winstanley OAM RFD AIBFS JP following an interview with Red Sheedy in Adelaide in May 2005. Email website


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