KEN WOOD AND THE WEARY DUNLOP BOON PONG EXCHANGE FELLOWSHIP

Kenneth Walter Wood, WX 7433 passed away on 26th August 2014. Ken enlisted on 6th August 1940 and became a member of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. After initial training he went with his Division to the Middle East. When the Japanese invasion of South East Asia commenced, Australian forces were ordered back to defend Australia but their ship was diverted to Java where the Australian troops became Prisoners of War with the Dutch capitulation. It was here that Ken and his group had their first experiences with “Weary” Dunlop. After a period of detention in Java the Dunlop Force were returned to Singapore and almost immediately on to Thailand to work on the Burma Thailand Railway. Following discharge Ken Wood forged a successful career in rural commerce, married and raised a family. A bond was forged with the other members of the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion, particularly with those in captivity from Don Company, and Ken was an active member of the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion Association until his passing. Probably one of the most notable post-war achievements of Ken was his involvement with the formation of the Weary Dunlop Boon Pong Exchange Fellowship. The following is the description of the Association in the records of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons:- “The establishment of the Weary Dunlop Boon Pong Exchange Fellowship was a collaborative effort between the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (the College) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Thailand (RCST). This scheme started from the initiative of Keith Flanagan, Bill Haskell and Ken Wood (returned prisoners-of-war on the Burma Thailand Railway) in Western Australia. Forty years after their return from prison camps in and around the Thai-Burma railway, they wished to create a memorial for those of their colleagues who did not return. An exchange scheme for surgical training was decided upon. As money became available, young Thai surgeons were brought to Australia for further experience in surgical fields in which they had a special interest. The Fellowships are intended to provide valuable training experiences and increase the cordiality of Thai-Australian relationships. The first surgeons were appointed in 1987. The Fellowship provides opportunities for Thai surgeons to undertake clinical attachments in Australian hospitals, in their nominated field of interest. The goal is to develop the expertise and improve the capacity of Thai specialists to provide specialist surgery in Thailand. The specific objectives of the Fellowship are to provide opportunities for promising young Thai surgeons to: • obtain further exposure in general or specialist surgery • gain experience in clinical research and the applications of modern surgical technology • develop management skills in a multi-disciplinary environment. The program also aims to establish, increase and nurture the linkages and interactions between Australian and Thai health personnel to promote relationship building and regional collaboration at the levels of leadership, health structure, administration, surgical practice and research. The College recognises that there is a shortage of trained and skilled local specialists in many developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This shortage severely reduces the country's capacity to deliver surgical care to their populations. The overarching goal of the International Scholarship Program is to improve the health outcomes for disadvantaged communities in the region, by providing appropriate training opportunity to promising individuals who will contribute to the development of the long-term surgical and medical capacity in their country”. The Fellowship has now put over ninety Thai surgeons through the program. Ken Wood passed away on 26th August 2014 and his funeral took place on 3rd September 2014. With the passing of Ken Wood the three ex prisoners of war are all now deceased. Vale Ken Wood.

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