Bangka Island Massacre
Also Known as Banka Island
On 12th February 1942, the Vyner Brooke left Singapore to evacuate injured personnel and 65 nurses of the Australian Army Nursing Service from the 2/13th Australian General Hospital. The ship also carried civilian men, women and children.
Japanese aircraft Bombed and sank the ship. Two nurses were killed in the bombing, those who survived were but spread amongst rescue boats and put ashore on Bangka Island at various places. About one hundred collected together on Radji Beach , this included 22 of the nurses.
Finding that Japanese already held the island , an officer of the Vyner Brooke went to surrender the party to the Japanese. While away a civilian woman and her children left the group to reach Muntok and safety. when the officer returned he was accompanied by 20 Japanese soldiers.
The Japanese ordered all the wounded men to move away from the group to the headland, after the had gone, rifle shots were heard. When the Japanese soldiers returned they were cleaning their bayonets and rifles. A civilian women and the 22 nurses were ordered to walk into the surf while a machine gun was set up. when the women were waist deep in the surf the machine gun opened fire. All but Bullwinkel were killed. Stretcher cases who could not walk with the men to the headland beacvh were then bayoneted.
Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel was shot in the massacre but survived by playing dead. She hid in the jungle and was taken as a prisoner of war, before eventually returning to Australia. Of the small group of men who were massacred, two are known to have survived: Ernest Lloyd and Eric Germann.
According to the Australian government, the perpetrators of the massacre remain unknown and "escaped any punishment for their crime".
From Judy Campbell
Ronnie, I find it so hard to fathom why the British government is so reluctant to acknowledge the tragedy of the Far East. I am still in Muntok, Bangka Island after a full day of commemorative services yesterday for the 21 Australian Army Nurses!, about 60 British servicemen and several civilians massacred at Radji Beach on February 16 1942. The services were attended by families of the Nurses and civilians and also the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, the British and New Zealand Defence Attaches and the Political Advisor to the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia. There were 4 formal services, the Walk for Humanity where everyone holds hands and walks towards the water as the Nurses did as they were shot in 1942 and a tree planting for Peace by the official Representatives of the 4 countries. The services and the Walk for Humanity are now an annual event in Muntok.
Walk for Humanity
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