PAVILLARD, Capt. Stanley Septimus (Medical Officer, Straits Settlement Volunteer Forces)


  • Stanley Pavillard was born 19 Jan 1913 – Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.  He studied medicine in Spain and Edinburgh, Scotland from where he qualified in 1939.  He took up a Medical position in Singapore prior to war breaking out.
  • He died 24 July 1997 – Brighton, England, aged 84 years.
Pavillard enlisted with the local Straits Settlement Volunteer Forces and was taken POW of Japan at Singapore.  Following a short time imprisoned at Changi, the men from Malaya and Singapore Volunteer forces housed at River Valley Road POW Camp, Singapore.   During 1942 they were entrained to Wampo to work on the Railway known as ‘D’ Battalion under command of Major Clark,  SSVF and MO  Captain Pavilaard.   There were two  further Battalions:  ‘B’ Battalion under command Lt Col Lilly, Sherwood Foresters with  MO Captain Richardson RAMC  and ‘F’ Battalion under command of Major Brodie & MO Major Bennett RAMC.
Pavillard was at Tarsao, Wampo, South Tonchan and Tamuang Camps on the Burma-Thai Railway.
Pavillard described  group ‘D’ Btn’s construction of the railway was building a section of the railway line about 12 miles long with a viaduct at one end and a bridge a the other.  They called the viaduct Wampo South and the Bridge Wampo North while HQ was located in between at Wampo Central.  The Wampo work force totalled about 1500 POWs.
The Japanese Camp Commandant was Hattori.  He spoke perfect English, loved playing bridge and recalled a number of politcal speeches by Lloyd George. Hattori was a lawyer and tought at the University of Tokyo.
Pavillard wrote ‘they were fed very badly’.    A small amount of plain rice three times daily with nothing else.    The numbers of sick with malaria and dysentery scalated quickly
Tamuang was his final camp, and it was here ‘Pav’ came down with typhus.  Seriously ill he ranted and raved deliriously for four days and his lips were black.  Even the Japanese were concerned about him, a Japanese guard known as  ‘Red Balls’ was so concerned he fetched the Japanese Camp Commandant who came and saw Pav ranting for ‘soda water and milk’.   He sent a lorry 20km every day to Kanachanburi to get them.  He had been ill for in the tented hospital for 14 days and it was a slow recovery.  ‘Pinky’ his batman and several others stole food from the Japanese to assist with his recovery.  Not only did he had typhus, but beri beri and malaria.
Pavillard requested to look after dysentery patients and was given two tents capable of holding 250 men each.
It was at Tamuang Pavillard experienced his first case of blackwater fever – a very serious complication of malaria.  The mortality rate was 50%.  The treatment was absolute rest, repeated blood transfusions and intravenous salines.  They had found an improved technique for blood transfusions.  From this time until and end of the war, Pavillard treated 16 cases of blackwater fever with no loss of life.
It was evident the war was nearing the end.  The Japanese were jumpy and had the POWs construct slit trenches all around the camp which some indicated if the Allies arrived, the POWs would be forced to enter and machine gunned.  The air raids were more frequent and the Japanese built a watchtower which was manned at all times to keep a watch out for enemy planes.  Most raids took place in the late night and the POWs could watch as the allied planes attacked Kanchanaburi aiming for the bridge.
In Sept 1944 the Japanese announced 2000 of the fittest men were to be sent to Japan to work.  This was alarming news as the POWs knew any shipping was subjected to attack from sea and air.  With no other option available, each unit supplied a number of men to form the work force.
He is well known for his book Bamboo Doctor, published in 1960 McMillan & Co. Ltd. and Printed in Great Britain by Robert MacLerose & Co. Ltd, The University Press, Glasgow.
Dr. Stan Pavillard was mentioned with high regard by Australian doctors on the Burma-Thai Railway.   Following the end of the war, Pavillard married and resided in Singapore for some years.
He also attended the War Trials as a witness.
Stanley Pavillard was awarded MBE.


The following is from the IWM where Pavilard’s book of camp Medical Records’ from the Railway, private papers and some belongings have been donated.
Dr. Stanley Pavillard MBE was born in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on 19 January 1913. He was educated at Liverpool Institute and Ellesmere College, Shropshire and read medicine at Edinburgh University. He volunteered for war service in 1940 and was appointed to a civilian medical post in Penang, Malaysia. He was transferred to Singapore and was captured on 15 February 1942. He assisted in the aftermath of the Alexandra Hospital massacre of Allied medical staff and patients. In October 1942 he accompanied a battalion of 650 prisoners to the jungle camps of the Burma-Thailand Railway and later was in the base camp hospitals where he improvised medical care though he had minimal medical supplies and equipment. He also sent the British Government the first account of conditions on the Railway. For further information see his book ‘Bamboo Doctor’ held in the Department of Printed Books and a book of Camp Medical Records from Thailand held in the Department of Documents.


Below:  Just two of several items belonging to Pavillard are held at the IWM.  We wish to acknowledge and thank IWM for the use of these photographs.



White leather case with a Red Cross emblem in the centre of the lid, inscribed above the cross on the top of the lid CAPT PAVILLARD M.O., there is a leather carrying handle on the top of the case fixed with metal securing rings, on either side of the handle are metal snap-shut locks, the inside of the case is lined with paper and fabric, the fabric inside the base is partially detached and the paper underneath damaged, there is a separate bag of numerous detached paper fragments.


Book of camp medical records (120pp) kept during his time as Medical Officer of 1st Battalion Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, attached to No 5 (POW) Labour Battalion, Group IV, as a far east prisoner of war of the Japanese in Thailand during the Second World War following the surrender of Fortress Singapore, containing lists of patients kept alphabetically, with number, rank, and unit, the majority of men coming from 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces Line of Communication Brigade, 7th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery, 9th Coast Regiment RA, 16th Defence Regiment RA, 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, RAMC, and RAOC, as well as details of illnesses, sickness, or injuries, with further details of where they had the illness, Changi, Singapore, or Thailand. There are also sketch plans of a hospital near the rear of the book. Together with: a record (1p) written by a Major in 2nd Selangor Battalion, FMSVF, and former 2nd in command of No 5 (POW) Labour Battalion, Group IV, recommending Captain S S Pavillard for a DSO for his devotion to helping the sick on the march from Ban Pong to Tarsao POW camps, and his dedication to his duties at Wampo camp, and Tonchan South where a cholera epidemic broke out, and where he ran the Cholera Isolation Camp; a pencil sketch of a Medical Officer [Pavillard?] with a stethoscope and Red Cross armband; and a watercolour painting, dated “Tamuang 24 May 1944”, of an unnamed man with a blue cap’.   
We wish to acknowledge the above description held IWM, London.



At Wampo Camp WX7064 Bert Winfield James ‘Jim’ Allpike who enlisted with 2/4th MGB was diagnosed by Pavillard as having Black Water Fever (we believe at Tamuang).
Jim Allpike was originally a member of 2/4 MGB and later with 2/3 MGB. He missed boarding ‘Aquitania’ when the ship sailed for Sinaqpore 16 Jan 1942.  He was one of about 90 2/4th left behind who sailed from Fremantle a few weeks later.  However instead of landing in Singapore as was originally planned, they landed in Java where they were taken POWs of Japan about 8 Mar 1942.
He sailed with a work party from Java to Singapore then entrained from there with ‘D’ Force Java Party No. 6 O Battalion to Bam Pong Thailand and travelled to  the Thai-Biurma Railway.
Jim becomes a water-carrier from Hintock Mountain to Hintock River Camp
Jim was with Weary Dunlop at Hintock Mountain Camp. Due to the initiative of a Major Clarke (a Dentist) and others they established a still at the camp to produce distilled water. The still was operated up to 24 hours a day, staffed by the officers, and could produce 120 pints of saline. The distilled water could have salt added later to produce saline fluid. Amongst other things, this could be infused to improve fluid levels of dysentery and cholera patients. Jim used to carry four 1 gallon demi-johns of distilled water from Hintock Mountain Camp to Hintock River Camp, a return journey of over 8km, several times a day. Jim had no boots and walked/ran the path in all weathers by day or night. It is reported that Jim was seen doing a delivery at 2 am on one occasion. One would need to see the terrain to appreciate the difficulty.
Article prepared by Lt. Col. Peter Winstanley OAM RFD (Retired) JP 2003 E-mail



Obituary notice written by Professor Ronald Girdwood in the British Medical Journal Founder and director of the British American Clinics Las Palmas 1956-89 (b Las Palmas 1913; qualified at Edinburgh 1939; FRCPE; MBE).
Just after he qualified he was appointed medical officer to an army unit in Penang, being subsequently transferred to Singapore. In 1942 he was captured by the Japanese and sent with the men working on the Burma-Thailand railway, a project which led to many thousands of deaths from malnutrition and ill treatment. He described his experiences in Bamboo Doctor, a title chosen because he employed bamboo in the apparatus he made to produce saline for treating cholera; even the needles were made of bamboo. He was awarded the MBE in recognition of his work among the prisoners of war. Later, like too many of his fellow prisoners, he developed a degree of blindness from the malnutrition during his prisoner of war days.’


  • Obituary notice in “The Times” newspaper on 5 August 1997
    Stanley Septimus Pavillard, MBE, Medical officer on the Burma-Thailand Railway, 1942-45, died in Brighton on July 24 aged 84. He was born in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on January 19, 1913.
    The contribution Stanley Pavillard made to the welfare of his fellow prisoners of war in Japanese captivity was two-fold. First, he skilfully improvised medical care, though he had only the most primitive instruments and the minimum of medical supplies. The men in his camp were suffering from cholera, dysentery, tropical ulcers and the deficiency diseases which resulted from the Japanese decision to keep them on rations that sustained life but no health.
    Secondly, at great personal risk, he sent the British Government an account of the desperate circumstances in which the prisoners on the Burma-Thailand Railway found themselves in June 1943, when the monsoon had broken. His appeal for help was the first intimation the Allied government had of the conditions in which the prisoners were held; in disbelief, the Dutch government-in-exile asked for assurance that the information was genuine.
    The men of Pavillard’s battalion in Thailand were of mixed origin – European, Commonwealth and Eurasian – but with his expansive personality and good humour, he transcended divisions of race and rank, and helped to bind the unit together. In the preface to Pavillard’s account of his experiences, Bamboo Doctor (1960), Sir William Goode, was shared much of the captivity and was later Governor of Singapore, described the respect in which Pavillard was held: “In his book he tells much of the story of those days. But he had not brought out the faith we all had in him, our confidence that if he was there, thing would be all right”.
    Stanley Septimus Pavillard was the seventh son of Victor Eugene Pavillard, a British subject of Swiss descent, and his Spanish wife Susana. He was educated at Liverpool Institute and Ellesmere College, Shropshire. In 1939 he qualified in general medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
    Pavillard volunteered for war service in 1940, and was  appointed to a civilian medical post in Penang, Malaysia, which carried with it the position of medical officer of the local volunteer force. He soon transferred to Singapore, where he became a full-time medical officer. A secondment to the Bedong Group Hospital was cut short after a matter of days when the Japanese arrived, and Pavillard was captured in Singapore on February 15, 1942. His earliest task as a prisoner of war was to assist at the Alexandra Hospital in the aftermath of the massacre by the Japanese of Allied medical staff and patients. In October 1942 he accompanied a battalion of 650 prisoners of war to Thailand, spending 12 months in the jungle camps on the Burma-Thailand Railway, and then working in the hospitals in the base camps until his release in 1945.
    Between 1946 and 1955 he was in private practice in Singapore, where many of his first patients were men who had endured captivity alongside him in Thailand. Later, in 1956, he received from the University of Madrid the medical qualifications that enabled him to practise in Las Palmas until his retirement in 1989. In 1993 he came to live in England, latterly at St. Dunstan’s, Brighton. He was a familiar figure at reunions of prisoners of war, and he was much fêted in 1995 at the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war with Japan.In 1947 he was appointed MBE for his services as a prisoner of war and in the following year he received the Territorial Decoration.
    He was married in 1950 to Irene Templeton, who died in 1992. He is survived by their three daughters.
Pavillard published his personal account in ‘Bamboo Doctor’ by Stanley S. Pavillard’ published in 1961 and published by MacMillan & Co. Ltd. The book was first published in 1960.
‘The Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF) was a military reserve force in the Straits Settlements, while they were under British rule. While the majority of the personnel were from Singapore, some lived in other parts of the Settlements, including PenangProvince WellesleyMalacca and Labuan.’


Mixed Races, given as numbering 4,784, (CO820/50/9) Or as 5,200 in Post War Volunteer Force Records (CO820/67)
A “Compulsory Service (Volunteer Force) Ordinance 1940” was passed in June 1940 in Singapore and almost immediately thereafter in FMS and Johore, Kedah and Kelantan, covering ages 19 – 55, in a potentially large sweep of nationalities. An Ordinance immediately following it was for “Volunteer Training”, empowering widespread call-up for training purposes.
But on 2nd July 1940, the Governor Sir Shenton, responsible to Secretary of State for the Colonies, (and who had been ordered to maintain high output earnings for the dollar-short UK), used his powers to proclaim that the Compulsory Ordinance would apply only to every male British subject and British protected person. He reduced the age range to 18 – 41.

In practice, only Europeans were called up.’


Please go to Malayan Volunteer Forces for more details.