The late Sir Edward Weary Dunlop

The late Sir Edward Weary Dunlop (PhC 1927)

Surgeon and World War II leader Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop (PhC 1927) was born in 1907 and grew up in country Victoria.

After completing high school he accepted an apprenticeship at a Benalla pharmacy and began a correspondence course with the Victorian College of Pharmacy.

Sir Edward graduated in 1927 at the top of his class receiving the first HT Tompsitt Scholarship as well as the Gold Medal of the Pharmaceutical Society, the Silver Medal for Botany and certificates of Honour in Chemistry and Materia Medica.

He received a scholarship to study at the University of Melbourne graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery in 1934 and a Master of Surgery in 1937.

In between degrees he joined the Royal Melbourne Hospital as a junior resident. He also triumphed on the sports field, representing Australia in rugby with the Wallabies in 1932.

He enlisted in the Australian Army in 1935 and was commissioned into the Australian Army Medical Corps. In May 1938 he left Australia for London to work as a medical officer.

When World War II broke out Sir Edward served in Palestine, Greece, Egypt and Indonesia.

In Indonesia he treated casualties of a recent attack on Java but was taken prisoner by the Japanese and transported to Burma with his patients to help build the Thailand–Burma Railway. As a commander Sir Edward decided who was fit enough to work and he cared for wounded, sick and malnourished soldiers.

In 1945 Sir Edward returned to Australia and dedicated his life to caring for former prisoners of war, lobbying governments to support veterans.

He continued to work as a surgeon in Australia and parts of Asia until 1967 and also taught medicine in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.

Sir Edward received numerous honours and awards in recognition of his civic, sporting, educational, military and medical achievements including:

  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1947);
  • Knight Bachelor (1969);
  • Companion of the Order of Australia (1987); and
  • Knight Grand Cross (1st Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Royal Crown of Thailand (1993).

He was an Honorary Fellow of the Imperial College of London, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, honorary life member of the Returned and Services League and life governor of the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

In 1977 he was named Australian of the Year.

Sir Edward died in 1993. More than 10,000 people lined the streets of Melbourne for the state funeral.