Vivian Bullwinkel: An Australian Heroine
Vivian Bullwinkel: An Australian Heroine chronicles the extraordinary life and legacy of the woman who is one of Australia's greatest war heroines. Australian army nurse, Vivian Bullwinkel was one of the hundreds of Europeans evacuated at the last minute as Singapore fell to the Japanese. Her ship was bombed and sunk by Japanese fighters and Vivian and some fellow survivors washed up on the shores of Bangka Island near Sumatra.
Their attempt to surrender to the occupying Japanese army was ignored. The men were bayoneted and the nurses were ordered to march into the ocean and were machine-gunned. Vivian Bullwinkel was shot through the side and survived by pretending to be dead. She hid in the jungle for 13 days, caring for a soldier who had been bayoneted and was badly wounded. Eventually starvation forced her to surrender and Vivian spent the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war in the most appalling conditions.
After the war ended, Vivian Bullwinkel had a successful career as a civilian nurse. She became the much loved matron of Melbourne's Fairfield Hospital and, as the President of the Royal College of Nursing Australia, she was a key player in the struggle to have nursing education moved to universities.
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