Vivian Bullwinkel

Australian Army nurse

Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel, Mrs. Statham, AO, MBE, ARRC, FNM (18 December 1915 – 3 July 2000) was an Australian Army nurse during the Second World War. She was the only one alive from the Bangka Island Massacre. In that massacre, Japanese troops killed 21 of her fellow nurses on Radji Beach, Bangka Island (Indonesia) on 16 February 1942.

Vivian Bullwinkel
Studio portrait of Vivian Bullwinkel, taken in May 1941
Born18 December 1915
Kapunda, South Australia
Died3 July 2000(2000-07-03) (aged 84)
Perth, Western Australia
AllegianceAustralia Commonwealth of Australia
Service/branchRoyal Australian Army Nursing Corps
Years of service1941–47
RankLieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsOrder of Australia
Member of the Order of the British Empire
Associate of the Royal Red Cross
Florence Nightingale Medal


Japanese troops invaded British Malaya in December 1941. They went southward. They won several victories. By late January 1942, Japanese forces went through Johore. Australian hospital staff were told to get to Singapore. On 12 February, Bullwinkel and 65 other nurses boarded a steamship to escape.[1]

Two days later, the ship was sunk by Japanese aircraft. Bullwinkel and many others made it ashore. There were about 100. They surrendered to the Japanese. An officer walked to Muntok, a town on the northwest of the island, to contact the Japanese.[1]

In the Banka Island Massacre, Japanese soldiers came and killed the men. Then forced the nurses to go into the sea. They then machine-gunned the nurses from behind. Bullwinkel was struck by a bullet which passed completely through her body, missing her internal organs. She played dead until the soldiers left.[1] She hid with British Army Private Cecil George Kingsley of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps for 12 days. She took care of his severe wounds. They were taken into captivity. Private Kingsley died soon after his wounds.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Klemen, L (1999–2000). "The Bangka Island Massacre, February 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942.