The March Storytellers took awhile to eventuate but was really worthwhile on the night. John Mather first suggested that Lisa Scamps and her sister present the story of their father at Storytellers way back in May 2016. Then through all manner of reasons (people living their lives) it wasn’t until this meeting that it all came together, and we heard about their father’s story as a doctor on the Burma-Thailand Railway and in particular at ” Cholera Hill “. The timing was perfect as we were able to arrange for Christopher Deane, Jenny Hole and Jimmy Arnold to follow with their talk about their 2017 trek to North Borneo following in the steps of the 1945 Death Marches.
The accounts presented by Lisa, Virginia and Marc and then Chris, Jenny and Jimmy are riveting and full of detail, far too much to include in these Minutes, but I’m sure they could be provided upon request. As a result, certain snippets have been included as follows:
Lisa and Virginia’s story was titled “Lloyd’s war….Malaya, Singapore and the Burma Thailand Railway and what he didn’t tell us”.
When the railway was completed, Cahill and the surviving prisoners were sent back to Changi in 1944. He finally returned to Australia in 1945; he landed in Darwin weighing 47 kilograms. The following year he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to prisoners of war.
They began with some background on their father Richard Lloyd Cahill. He was the eldest of 6 children to Doctor Arthur Cahill and his wife Florence. He studied Medicine and Sydney University and prior to joining the forces he was a resident doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital. In February this year they, the Cahill family and partners were fortunate enough to embark on a private historical war tour learning all about what their father was up to during the war. The highly acclaimed War Historian – Lynette Silver was kind enough to organise and take them on this extraordinary journey.
Lisa spoke of how their journey came about:
“My first meeting with Lynette was at a coffee shop. I had in my possession some very precious POW letters that belonged to Dad along with Wartime photos. I showed her the first photo and said this was dad in Singapore I think at Raffles, where he was stationed before the fall of Singapore. Lynette very promptly said “No it’s not, this was taken by the Women’ Weekly back in 1941 in Malaya”. My hackles went up and I thought this woman has no idea about my father (how wrong was I). Anyway, I went home and told Virginia and we both agreed that was ludicrous and she had it all wrong. Despite this Marc (Lisa’s husband) assured me she knew her stuff and to bear with it and we should all make the pilgrimage. Apart from anything we as a family with partners had never been away together. So, we all agreed to go.”
Lisa explained how that Lynette was soon to realise as a group we were totally uninformed. Whilst they knew he had a remarkable war history in Singapore and the Burma-Thailand Railway, they soon discovered that unbeknown to any of them, Lloyd had spent nearly 12 months in Malaya, before fighting and retreating to Singapore and then being captured when Singapore fell on the 15th February 1942. Continue reading