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.
    free hit counter


When talking with Jim Allpike (2/4 and 2/3 MG Bn) he mentioned that he had been diagnosed with Black Water Fever by a Spanish Doctor who was on the line. This was in the vicinity of Wampo.

I was not aware of there being a Spanish Doctor (Medical Officer) on the railway. However, on the very same day, I found a book called “Bamboo Doctor” in a second-hand book shop. Pavillard was the author.

Pavillard was born in 1913 in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. He studied medicine at Madrid and Edinburgh University. The latter had a “tropical medicine” unit. Hence his familiarity with Black Water Fever. He was employed as a civilian doctor in Malaya when the Japanese invasion took place in December 1941. As the allies were being pushed down the Malayan Pensinsular Pavillard ranged over the front and at times was forward of the troops.

On 19 December 1941, he enlisted as a Medical Officer in the Straits Settlement Volunteer Forces as a Lieutenant. Later he was amongst the over 100,000 allies who were taken prisoner of war at capitulation on Singapore on 15 February 1942.

Subsequently, he became part of the work force on the Burma Thailand Railway and was involved at the southern area, as far north as Kinsayok.

Some significant things Pavillard did whilst on the line included

  • doing the first one to one transfusion (in dispute)
  • having early arrangements (October 1942) with Boon Pong (Thai trader) for supply of provisions and medicines to POWs
  • removed an appendix with, amongst other crude instruments, a cut throat razor
  • did an unusual treatment of tropical ulcer and ,as a result, had no amputations
  • when sick did his hospital rounds on a stretcher


Some West Australian connections with Pavillard are:

  • Ken Wood of Wembley was the donor in the first one to one transfusion. This occurred at Kinsayok and the donee was a Scotsman by the name of Snuffy (John) Craig.
  • George Wiseman (an ex POW who travelled with me to Thailand in 2003 & 2004) knew Pavillard on the line and later in Singapore.
  • Ian Denys Peek, who launched his book on 31 March 2003 about the Railway, called “One Fourteenth of an Elephant”. Ian also knew Pavillard on the line and later in Singapore.
  • Pavillard’s nephew Eugene was a doctor at Royal Perth Hospital in the 1960’s. Eugene now resides in Wirrall in UK.
  • In 1997 Stanley Pavillard’s book titiled “Enemy No 19”was published. He had been living in Brighton in UK and died in approx 1996

(See following photos of Ken Woods and Dr Pavillard together with letter Woods to Pavillard.)

Ken Woods left. Doc Pavillard right


Click Here to read Ken Woods letter to Pavillard ( 0.5mb PDF file )



Notes prepared by Lt Col (Retired) Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (JP) (E-mail)




ezFrog Web Design. Copyright 2004.