Bangka Day Memorial Service

Event TypeActivity
Event FocusCommunity
Event ReachAll
Event ScopeLocal Community
Dates11/02/2018 to 11/02/2018
Start Time9.45 am
End Time12noon
LocationSouth Australian Women's Memorial Playing Fields
Shepherds Hill Road
St Marys SA

The President wishes to invite you to attend the Memorial Service to be held at the South Australian Women’s Memorial Playing Fields

Shepherds Hill Road, St. Marys on Sunday 11 February 2018 9.45am for 10am. Decorations may be worn. A collection will be taken during the service. Please advise if you wish to lay a wreath or tribute.

R.S.V.P. by Friday 25 of January 2018

Email, Fax: 8357 6874 or PO Box 428 Park Holme SA 5043 or President: Bruce Parker 8276 9586 M. 0400 944 110


It has been said that a Nation's greatness is decided by the calibre of its women. If this is so then we in Australia have much to be thankful for and much that gives us cause for pride. The Navy, Army and Air Force each have been enriched by their own women's services. The women who served with the armed forces in two World Wars were endowed with the finest qualities.
In the study of our nurses who served in Malaya these qualities are brought into bold relief. The story of their evacuation from Singapore, of the Bangka Straits Massacre, and of the subsequent tribulations of the survivors in a prisoner of war camp is an epic
to fill all Australians with pride. The movie "Paradise Road" gives a very moving account of the story. The decision to evacuate all of the women and children from Singapore was hastily made when it became clear Singapore would be invaded by the Japanese.
Sixty-five Australian nurses ultimately embarked on the Vyner Brooke, a small steamer formally owned by the Rajah of Sarawak, but now flying the White Ensign. In this last party to leave were the Matrons Paschke and Drummond.

The remainder of the passengers were mainly mothers and small children. The small ship was uncomfortably crowded. She sailed on the evening of Thursday February 12, and during the night became separated from the convoy such as it was.

On the afternoon of February 14 the enemy struck when the ship was 10 miles off the village of Muntok in the Bangka Straits.
Japanese bombers attacked her. Bombs blew up the bridge and foredeck. The bombers then raked the ship fore and aft with machine gun fire, and she began to settle. Complete chaos was prevented by the sisters attending to the mothers and children, seeing that they got life jackets on, and ushering them into life boats.

Matron Drummond and 21 nurses, together with a number of civilians, reached land in a holed ship's boat. The civilians decided to walk to Muntok, but the sisters stayed behind with the wounded. They were approached by a party of Japanese soldiers and
told by signs to form a line including the wounded and walked back into the sea.

They were machine gunned from behind. The day was February 16. Vivian Bullwinkel, although a bullet had passed through her body, managed to survive. With incredible level-headedness and endurance she evaded the prowling Japanese. After an amazing week of hardship she was able to join the group crowded in a small room in Muntok. A slung water bottle concealed the bullet hole in her frock. For three and a half years of internment an organised and enforced silence among the party prevented the
Japanese from learning that she was the sole survivor of the shocking massacre.


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