A Reluctant Hero
The Story of Dr James P. Taylor
by Peter Firkins
ISBN 0 85905 211 7, (1995 new), Soft Cover and Hard Cover, 141mm x 215mm, 161pp, illustrated, SC 250grams, HC 300grams
SC $22.00 HC $28.00 + POST
In a very moving Foreword to this book Dr Frank Mills writes. "Out of the tragic shambles that was Sandakan, Peter Firkins has produced a heroic figure comparable in courage and selflessness to that of the legendary 'Weary' Dunlop, and whose story should be known by all Australians in the same way.
What a wonderful epitaph to a man born into a humble Yass family at the end of the nineteenth century who, by his own determination and intellect, won a scholarship for his secondary education at St Patrick's College, Goulburn and an Exhibition to study medicine at Sydney University.
Almost by pure chance he pursued his medical career in an outpost of the British Empire then known as British North Borneo to become Principal Medical Officer at the time of the Japanese occupation during World War II.
The Japanese allowed the civilian medical staff to remain at their posts with the status of 'simple confinement' while at the same time the bewildered local people looked to someone for leadership in their new and unaccustomed circumstances.
Aided by his wonderful wife Celia he was imperceptibly drawn into the key role of organising the underground movement among loyal native and giving support to the Australian Prisoners of War transferred to Borneo from Singapore. In 1943 he was exposed to the Japanese, arrested and terribly tortured.
Mercifully, Dr Taylor and his wife survived their internment and survived to return to Australia and lead a normal life."