“Throughout those dreadful days in 1943, on the Burma Railway, I was posted to KANU No. 2 Camp with one hundred and forty 2/4th Machine Gunners. The officer in charge of this camp was Major Schneider 2/10th Field Artillery. Other officers that were also there were Captain Bill Gaden 2/19th Battalion, Lieutenant Ken Schultz 2/10th Field Artillery and Captain Phil Millard, Medical Officer. A total of five officers and five hundred and eighty men.
The camp didn’t exist, we had to hack it out of the jungle and erect tents that were full of holes. When the rains came, the camp became a complete quagmire. Phil Millard was concerned with the increase in the number of sick men, both with Malaria and Dysentery, and wondered if a hut could be built to keep these sick men off the ground. It was typical of Phil, he worked harder than anybody cutting bamboo and lashing it all together and putting on a roof of palm fronds. He had very little treatment for anything.
The men came to idolize him as he would always sit and talk to them. I slept next to Phil in our tent. At 2 and 3am, most nights, he would get up and I used to ask him “what was the matter?” He would reply “I have two or three men in the sick hut and they won’t live much longer so the least I can do is to sit with them and let them know that somebody cares.”
Cholera hit our camp at the end of May, 1943. Phil felt that a compound of two tents should be erected about 1 kilometre from the main camp to isolate Cholera patients. We soon had our first patients. Phil was so concerned because he had no treatment for them. He got permission from the Japanese Guard Commander of our camp to visit the main KANU camp to see if he could obtain some tubing and bottles for drip treatment for Cholera patients. He saw Colonel Dunlop but unfortunately he came back empty handed. Over the following two months, we lost twelve men to Cholera. Phil spent hours in the sickness hut and Cholera Compound.
One of my men was one of the worst cases with Cholera, Jim Gilmour, but he survived and only died recently at the age of eighty one. Jim always said he owed his life to Phil Millard. Phil was a tower of strength to all of those men who survived those dreadful five months in KANU 2 Camp.
After the War, Phil and I kept in touch with each other. He became a senior Surgeon at a large Public Hospital in Sydney. At all of our reunions since the War, the Machine Gunners always asked had I heard from Phil Millard and to convey their best wishes to him. Phil and his wife, Joan, came to Western Australia in early 1970. As I worked at Hollywood Hospital from 1945, until 1979, I had employed fifty one Machine Gunners at the Hospital. I asked Phil to come over to the Hospital and see some of the old faces. I could not move in my office after he arrived, they were so pleased to see him. ”
Phil Millard died in November, 2001. The following Death notice was placed in the West Australian Newspaper.
MILLARD. Dr. Phil.
Always remembered by the 2/4th Machine Gun boys
from KANU No. 2 Camp on the Burma Railway, 1943.
Deepest sympathy to Joan And Family.