Title: Bullwinkel – The True Story of Vivian Bullwinkel, a Young Army Nursing Sister Who Was The Sole Survivor of a World War Two Massacre by the Japanese.
Author: Manners, Norman
Edition: 3rd Edition (Revised Memorial Edition)
Publication Date: 2008
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 240 pages
Comments: The story of Vivian Bullwinkel – Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC).
The Vivian Bullwinkel story takes the reader through her early years in Broken Hill and her struggle to become a certified nurse. She joined the A.A.N.S. at the outbreak of war in Europe and enjoyed the balmy days of pre-war Malacca and Singapore until the surprise attack by the Japanese in December 1941.
In 70 days the victorious Japanese captured Malaya and landed on Singapore Island where the Australian Military Hospitals overflowed with wounded and staff worked around the clock under shell and mortar fire.
Ordered to evacuate, to escape a looting, raping and murderous enemy, their ship was bombed and sunk off Bangka Island.
Vivian and other survivors were lined up and shot by a Japanese patrol. Only Vivian survived by playing dead after receiving a bullet wound to her side.
After existing in the jungle for several weeks, where she cared for a badly wounded British soldier, they finally surrendered. For the next three and a half years Vivian and the surviving Australian Sisters were constantly moved, starved, worked unmercifully and tortured. Although some were to die, their will to live and to see loved ones and Australia again, brought them through a living hell.
Their comradeship and togetherness, linked with their unstinting compassion for their fellow prisoners was an example to all who saw them and embodied the finest traits to be found in Australians.
The Bullwinkel story, although at times harrowing, is one that should be read by every Australian. It generates a deep-seated pride for the country of our birth, or adoption, and for the men and women who helped build on the ANZAC tradition as did Vivian Bullwinkel, a quiet Australian heroine.