Captain Jack Olsson

Jack Olsson tells of his Army experience as a Troop Commander in the 2/8th Field Artillery Regiment during his service in Borneo 1944-45, where mosquitoes reigned supreme!

To be protected from malaria all troops were required to take Atebrin tablets each day under strict supervision.

These tablets however were not a cure but at best a suppressive. At the end of hostilities in 1945 and on discharge from the army in early 1946, and having ceased taking Atebrin, malaria set in. Jack Olsson remembers the first signs of distress when he like many others were so sick that they were loaded in bunks on a hospital train for home.

On arrival home Jack’s distress became much worse when his bed became saturated with nasty smelling perspiration to the point where the bed clothes and mattress had to be destroyed. This position was so intolerable that he was admitted to hospital where he remained for treatment over twelve months.

It was during this time that some of the troops in Jack’s ward died, his father when visiting asked the medical staff if he should be prepared for his son’s death. Fortunately, at that time Sir Charles Bickerton Blackburn, a leading expert in tropical diseases was present at the hospital and assured his father that the medication he was now providing although not a total cure would certainly lessen the possibility of death. Thanks to Sir Charles intervention Jack Olsson survived.

In 1956 Jack joined Rotary and became an active member of the Rotary and Club of Canberra. Jack was President in 1969-70 and District Governor in 1977-78 and took on several international appointments in Chicago. Jack still a Rotarian today passionately supports The Malaria Vaccine Project. Seen here with the Honourable Governor General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove at the recent launch of the Malaria Vaccine Project.

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