DOCTOR Rosalind Hearder drew on her research of doctors in captivity during World War II at a special University of Ballarat event last night.
Dr Hearder was the speaker at the Sir Albert Coates Oration and Memorial Awards held at the Old Courthouse Theatre.
“I questioned why everyone knew about Weary Dunlop and no one knew about the others,” Dr Hearder said.
“Before my research nobody knew how many Australian doctors were in Japanese captivity ... there were 105 others beside Weary Dunlop.
“I wanted to find out about all the other 105, which Sir Albert Coates was a part of.”
Ms Hearder said there was incredible pressure on the doctors, who were forced to work with little or no equipment or medication.
“Their role was keeping people alive in difficult conditions,” she said.
Sir Albert Coates was born at Mt Pleasant in 1895, becoming one of Australia’s leading surgeons and a pioneer in neurosurgery.
He served at Gallipoli and the Western Front during World War I and later he volunteered for service in World War II, at the age of 46.
He was captured by the Japanese and became a hero surgeon on the Burma-Thai Railway.
“The point of my thesis was to not concentrate on one but all of them, but it’s appropriate to highlight Albert Coates now,” Dr Hearder said.
“He was one of the champions of the experience.
“In my research, I heard his name often ... British doctors wrote about him.”
Dr Hearder completed her PhD in 2004 and published a book in 2009 based on her research, called Keep the Men Alive.
Her address yesterday was titled “Coates and Co – Australian Doctors in Japanese Captivity during the Second World War.”