Vyner Brooke Tragedy Print Page
A plaque commemorates those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Vyner Brooke and the aftermath during World War Two.
On the evening of 12 February 1942, Vyner Brooke was one the last ships carrying evacuees to leave Singapore. Although she usually only carried 12 passengers, in addition to her 47 crew, Vyner Brooke sailed south with 181 passengers embarked, most of them women and children. Among the passengers were the last 65 Australian nurses in Singapore.
On the 14th February, Vyner Brooke was attacked by several Japanese aircraft. Despite evasive action, she was crippled by several bombs and within half an hour rolled over and sank bow first. Approximately 150 survivors eventually made it ashore at Banka Island, after periods of between eight and 65 hours in the water. The island had already been occupied by the Japanese and most of the survivors were taken captive.
Sister Vivian Bullwinkel was with a group of 22 survivors on Banka Island when a Japanese patrol arrived and ordered the women in the group to walk into the sea. They were machine-gunned from behind. All except Sister Bullwinkel were killed.
Of the 65 servicewomen who embarked on the Vyner Brooke, only 24, including Vivian Bullwinkel and Betty Jeffrey, returned to Australia. Of the 32 taken prisoner of war, eight died in captivity.
|Address:||May Drive, May Circle, Kings Park & Botanic Garden , Kings Park , 6005|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -31.95641|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Event STart Date:||12-February-1942|
|Actual Event End Date:||12-February-1942|
The Vyner Brooke Tragedy
On 12 February 1942 sixty five Australian Army nurses were ordered to evacuate Singapore to escape the advancing Japanese Army. Along with many civilians they boarded the ship "Vyner Brooke", two days later the ship was discovered by enemy aircraft, bombed, strafed and sunk. Twelve nurses drowned after the attack.
The survivors made they way to shore at Bangka Island. A group of twenty two nurses came together on Radji Beach and the next day, 16 February, surrendered to the Japanese.
They were forced to walk into the sea and were shot from behind. One nurse, Vivian Bullwinkel, survived the massacre by feigning death and spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war. Only twenty four nurses returned home to Australia.
Of the five Western australian nurses honoured here, one was lost at sea when the ship was sunk and the other four were massacred by their captors at the beach.
Lest We Forget.