Biographical entry: Stackpool, Francis (Frank) Thomas


Francis (Frank) Thomas Stackpool lived and worked in Solomons Islands from 1929 up to 1948 (except during Japanese occupation February to July 1942). He was a Sydney University pharmacy graduate who was recruited by the British in 1929 on an initial six month contract which was later made permanent. His title was Government Dispenser, a position for a pharmacist. He worked at the government hospital in Tulagi and among other field work did frequent yaws and hookworm field trips to outlying islands.

His war experiences were very vivid and life-threatening. Captain Stackpool began as a Lieutenant in the AIF Intelligence (NX77356) and later became Lieutenant then Captain in the British Solomon Island Protectorate Defence Force (BSIPDF). He was chosen as a guide and was attached to the United States Marine Corps 1st Marine Division amphibious landings at Tulagi that occurred on 7-9 August 1942. The reason why Captain Stackpool, an Australian, was chosen as a guide and attached to the 1st Marine Division was because of his knowledge of Tulagi's land and surrounding reefs, based on his pre-war 13-year residency and medical work in the southern Solomon's with the former British colonial administration. He added value to United States 1st Marine Division when he nominated a place for amphibious landing craft to land on the island of Tulagi that was mangrove-free.

Additionally, he added more value to United States Marine Corp, and the Allied cause in the Solomons' campaign when he demonstrated that sick indigenous employees, for whom he was responsible, responded very well to malaria treatment in that tropical environment. US Marine medical staffs attached to the Guadalcanal landing were less familiar with local medical conditions in the Southwest Pacific than they were with tropical Americas and Caribbean conditions. Large numbers of sick combatants in their care were initially treated for dengue fever. They were persuaded by two factors to revise this initial diagnosis to favour malaria. Based on his pre-war medical work in the southern Solomon's Captain Stackpool was brought to the US Guadalcanal campaign headquarters to speak about the former British administration's anti-malaria treatment policy and practices in the southern Solomon's in the many years preceding the war.

On seeing these successful results first hand themselves, US Marine medical staff very quickly adopted similar malaria treatment practices for their sick combatants. The initial approach to treat for dengue fever instead of malaria is understandable given that deadly Plasmodium falciparum is the predominant malaria in the Solomon Islands but it was not so in places familiar to US Marine medical staff such as Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, where less deadly Plasmodium vivax malaria predominated.

From 1943 to 1948 Stackpool was based at Aola on Guadalcanal, and later at Honiara where he was involved in re-building 'Number 9', now the Government Referral Hospital. He died in 1995 and is buried in Gungahlin cemetery, north Canberra. (Information from his son, Mike Stackpool, 2014)