Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fed: Weary Dunlop returns to war memorial

AAP General News (Australia)
Fed: Weary Dunlop returns to war memorial

CANBERRA, April 7 AAP - Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop, perhaps the best known of more than
half a million Australians who served in World War II, has returned to the Australian
War Memorial.

A 320 kilogram statue of the esteemed surgeon and prisoner of war has been lowered
into place by a crane - marking the end of a $18 million redevelopment at the memorial.

The war memorial grounds feature a large number of plaques commemorating particular
units but the Weary Dunlop statue, a duplicate of one in Melbourne, is special in its
commemoration of an individual.

Another is the statue of John Simpson and his donkey.

So what was special about Weary Dunlop, who was born 1907 and died in 1993.

War Memorial historian Karl James says he was a genuine hero.

"He wasn't a frontline soldier but he was very brave. He was out there working for
other people. He was a great humanitarian," he said.

"He was very accomplished. He had a massive list of honours and awards and decorations
but was a very modest man who always worked for the benefit of other people."

Weary Dunlop was a prominent sportsman and doctor before the war and post-war worked
tirelessly as an advocate for veterans, achieving international recognition as a surgeon
and for promoting international goodwill. He was named Australian of the Year for 1976.

But it was his leadership and compassion while treating Australian prisoners of Japan
that won him enduring recognition - although a mythology has emerged that he was the sole
POW doctor.

In fact there were several hundred Australian and British POW doctors.

Memorial head of art Lola Wilkins said the two statues were created after his death,
with the original located on Melbourne's St Kilda Road near the hospital where he used
to work.

The other was placed in the memorial grounds near the former cafe. It was removed for
a year to allow the redevelopment to proceed.

"Today's the day. He has come back to be here for the public," she said.

The redevelopment features a new cafe and 200 desperately needed car parking spaces
for what is one of the nation's top visitor attractions .

AAP mb/sb/it


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