Nurses' War Stories

Stories of heroism, suffering, loss, sacrifice and resilience.

The Australian Nurses Memorial Centre was founded by Australian war nurses who survived unimaginable adversity during WWII. Here are some of their stories.

Sixty-five nurses leave Singapore…

On Thursday 12 February 1942, with the fall of Singapore to the Imperial Japanese Army imminent, 65 Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) nurses were evacuated on the small coastal steamer Vyner Brooke. Two days later, on Saturday 14 February, the Vyner Brooke was bombed near Bangka Island and sank within 30 minutes. Twelve nurses were lost at sea. Twenty-two nurses washed ashore on Radji Beach, of whom 21 were killed by Japanese soldiers. Only Vivian Bullwinkel survived the massacre. She eventually joined the remaining 31 nurses, who had been interned on Bangka Island after surviving the sinking and reaching shore. Three-and-a-half years later, only 24 returned home to Australia.

These are the stories of each of those 65 brave women.

Nurses of the Bangka Island Massacre

Nurses Lost at Sea

Prisoners of War