LIFE WORK: Sir Rod Beattie outside Buckingham Palace in December 2013 receiving his MBE.
LIFE WORK: Sir Rod Beattie outside Buckingham Palace in December 2013 receiving his MBE. Contributed

Unlocking the past for prisoners of war in Yeppoon talk

IT was Rod Beattie's extensive knowledge about prisoners of war of the Japanese during the Second World War that led him to work with the likes of Colin Firth during filming of The Railway Man.

The Central Queensland man was given the role of historical advisor in Kanchanaburi, Thailand in 2012.

"Colin was a lovely person, it was an excellent cast, they were very nice people," Mr Beattie said of the experience.

Creator and director of research at the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre and Commonwealth War Graves manager, Rod has spent 20 years of his life dedicated to uncovering what happened to many prisoner of war soldiers in the Second World War.

Tomorrow he'll be sharing his historical knowledge at Yeppoon's St Ursula's College.

"A lot of families have no idea what happened to their loved ones in that war," Rod said.

"It was meeting families that wanted to know about their relatives that spurred me on to research more and more.

"I couldn't guess how many soldiers' stories I've found, somewhere in the hundreds.

"The families are usually crying tears of joy, they're all so extremely grateful."

Between 2001 and 2003, Rod designed and built his own internationally recognised museum in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

He said one of the important aspects of his talk tomorrow would be to make locals aware that he held records on almost all Australians who were prisoners of the Japanese.

Rod spent 10 years working for Queensland Main Roads before opening his own gem mining, cutting and wholesale business.

He went on to work as a consultant on gem projects in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos before becoming manager of the Commonwealth war cemeteries in Thailand for 18 years.

PUBLIC TALK

WHAT: A free talk by Sir Rodney Beattie, OAM, MBE, OON on his research into prisoners of war of the Japanese.

WHEN: Tomorrow from 7pm.

WHERE: St Ursula's College Hall, Queen St, Yeppoon.

RSVPs appreciated by phoning 4939 9602.



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