WWII nurse's medals go to war memorial

The medals awarded to nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, sole survivor of a WWII massacre, have been presented to the Australian War Memorial

Medals awarded to one of Australia's most distinguished nurses Vivian Bullwinkel, the sole survivor of a massacre which killed her 21 colleagues, have been presented to the Australian War Memorial.

That includes her Order of Australia, Florence Nightingale Medal plus campaign medals which will go on display in the Memorial's World War Two gallery.

Memorial director Brendan Nelson said Vivian Bullwinkel was a giant from a generation which produced so many remarkable Australians.

"She was a leader and an inspiration, a woman who embodied all that is good in us. She led from both position and principle," he said in a statement.

The Bullwinkel medals were donated by her nephew John Bullwinkel.

Lieutenant Colonel Bullwinkel, who died in 2000 aged 84, was an army nurse evacuated from Singapore in February 1942, shortly before the island fell to Japanese forces.

Her ship was sunk by Japanese aircraft, and she and other nurses managed to reach shore on Banka Island, now part of Indonesia.

Captured by Japanese soldiers, they were ordered to walk into the sea then gunned down.

Although wounded, she survived and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

She said nothing of her ordeal, speaking publicly for the first time when she testified at the Tokyo war crimes trial in 1947.

Source AAP

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