John Akeroyd was born in Melbourne. The son of Joseph, school inspector (later inspector general of Penal Establishments), and Ethel Caroline Finch, school teacher. He was educated at Bendigo and Melbourne High School where he was an honours student. He graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne with honours in obstetrics and surgery. During his university course he was actively involved in the militia, in the University Rifles and the 46th Battalion. He gained a blue in rifle shooting.
After graduation he was an RMO at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and SRMO and later medical superintendent at Ballarat Base Hospital. In 1935 he married Barbara Brown, a triple certificated nurse of Ballarat. In 1936, he founded a private medical practice in Frankston and was an honorary clinical assistant and later a war time appointee as physician to outpatients, Royal Melbourne Hospital. In June 1940, he enlisted in the AIF, was posted to the 2/22 Battalion, 8th Division as medical officer with the rank of major and proceeded to Rabaul. There he was taken prisoner of war when the town was captured and transported to Japan where he spent the remainder of the war.
Whilst a prisoner he fought a constant battle of wits with the commandants of the various prisons, always asking for more food and medication for the troops. He knew they were withholding sulpha drugs and quinine which were being dropped by the Red Cross planes. He suffered beatings because of these stands he made. He was known to them as 'the bloody nuisance'. Whilst a prisoner he contracted severe pulmonary tuberculosis with a tuberculous empyema. This was drained but the drainage tube broke off and remained in the pleural cavity till he arrived home. On admission to the 115th General Hospital he had dropped from his normal weight of 19 to 6 stone.
After spending about two years in hospital he resumed his medical practice in Frankston and continued there until his death, which occurred in the Akeroyd Coronary Care Unit of the Frankston Hospital on 17 December 1982. A list of his medical and other activities follows:
Throughout he maintained his interest in the Returned Soldiers League both as president of the local branch and as senior vice president of the state branch at his death. He was prominent in many of the League's activities including the War Veterans Home Trust of which he was a trustee. From all this it is obvious that John was an extremely energetic man, a skilled physician, one concerned with the welfare of his fellow men, a devoted family man, with first class ability as an organiser. His somewhat gruff manner at times obscured a kindly nature and one that was greatly admired by a wide section of the community.
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