On the second day at sea, along with other boats who were also trying to escape, the ship was bombed. These nurses gathered on Radji Beach , where they lit a fire as a beacon to those who were believed to still be in the water. They hoped the beacon would light their way to safety. Whilst on the beach they cared for the sick and injured — many of whom were male soldiers who had also survived the sinking of their ships. Eventually Matron Drummond suggested the civilians — women and children — should walk into the nearest town and give themselves up to the Japanese.
On the journey, they met a Japanese military patrol. This was the same group who — a short time later — was responsible for committing an horrific act of violence.
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When the Japanese arrived on the beach they found men, the nurses, and a civilian woman who had stayed with her injured husband— all survivors of the sunken ships. The Japanese military forces first ordered the surviving soldiers to walk around a rocky outcrop out of sight of the nurses. A short time later, a sound of gunfire erupted on the quiet of the beach. Indeed, what eventuated was an horrific war crime, the unarmed and weakened men had been shot and bayonetted to death. After committing this act of extreme violence, the Japanese soldiers returned to the beach where the nurses were located.
They ordered the nurses and the British civilian woman to line up and walk into the sea in front of them. All of the nurses showed enormous bravery as they stoically helped those who could barely walk and marched forward into the sea.
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Bullwinkel waited with the other surviving nurses from the Vyner Brooker. They went on to endure three and a half years in internment camps. Only 24 of the original 65 returned to Australia. Ian W. Publisher: MacMillan , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.
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