Banka Island MassacrePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by John Huth

A plaque commemorates the nurses who were murdered in the massacre at Banka Island in February 1942 during World War Two.  The plaque was removed by the Launceston General Hospital when Cosgrove Park was sold, and relocated to the memorial wall at the Launceston Cenotaph.

The Vyner Brook was attacked on the 14th of February in the Bangka Strait and sank within half an hour. While all the nurses survived the bombing, many drowned or were killed by the returning Japanese planes which raked those survivors struggling in the water with deadly machine-gun fire. The 53 remaining nurses staggered ashore in various stages of exhaustion, having spent anywhere from eight to 65 hours in the water.

One group of survivors was washed ashore on Bangka Island. It was a motley group, comprising nurses, soldiers and civilian men and women. Finding themselves in a desperate situation, they surrendered to Japanese soldiers on the 16th of February. The men in the group were immediately led to a beach behind a bluff. The Japanese soldiers returned alone, cleaning their rifles and bayonets in front of the horrified women. The nurses were then ordered to walk into the sea, where they were machine-gunned. Only one nurse survived, Sister Vivian Bullwinkel. Although wounded, she feigned death until she felt certain the Japanese had left the beach.


Address:Paterson Street, Remembrance Wall near Cenotaph, Launceston, 7250
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -41.438528
Long: 147.133286
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event STart Date:16-February-1942
Actual Event End Date:16-February-1942


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1964
Front Inscription

Pro Humanitate

Banka Island  February 1942

[ Names ]

Lest We Forget

Plaque :

The above plaque was unveiled by Colonel John Edis
Indian Medical Service (Ret.) 
Director-General of Health Services Tasmania 1964


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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