The Belfast Doctor
This website documents the life and times of Francis Joseph Murray (1912-1993), a Belfast-born doctor who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) during the Second World War and was a POW of the Japanese for three-and-a-half years. It contains documents, correspondence and photographs from his life in Belfast as well as his time in the RAMC.
Frank Murray was born in a room above his father's shop on the Oldpark Road, Belfast on 4th December 1912. He attended the interdenominational Jaffe School on the Cliftonville Road, St. Patrick's Christian Brothers primary school in Donegall Street and then St. Mary's Christian Brothers secondary school in Barrack Street.
Having graduated from Queen's University in 1937 Frank did his houseman work at the Mater Hospital, Belfast before working as a GP in the Summer Hill Road area of Birmingham. He was commissioned as an officer in the RAMC in December 1939 and was subsequently posted to Rawalpindi. While in India he re-established contact with Eileen O'Kane from the Springfield Road, Belfast whom he had met while they were both learning Irish at the Gaeltacht in Ranafast, Co. Donegal in 1929.
Frank kept up a voluminous correspondence with Eileen throughout his time in India and Malaya, where he was assigned to work with the 27th Field Ambulance of the Indian Army. Following the fall of Singapore in February 1942 Frank became a prisoner of war of the Japanese, first at Changi camp on Singapore Island and then later in various POW camps in Hokkaido, Japan. It was while he was at Muroran camp in 1944 that he became the Officer Commanding the British POWs in the camp as well as being their Medical Officer.
Throughout his period of captivity Frank kept a secret diary in the form of short, daily letters to Eileen. Following his release he returned to Belfast where he married Eileen in February 1946; they had five children. Frank was awarded the MBE in June 1946. He worked as a GP on the Oldpark Road, Belfast but he and Eileen retired to a bungalow in Newcastle, Co. Down in 1974 two years after his surgery was burned down. He passed away in September 1993. In May 1995 Eileen travelled to Clarence House, London where she met the Queen Mother who presented her with Frank's MBE.