The 16th of February was the anniversary of the Banka Island massacre, which occurred in 1942 during WW2.
Twenty two members of the Australian Army Nursing Service and sixty Australian and British soldiers and other crew members who survived the sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke were massacred by Japanese Soldiers with machine guns, off the Indonesian Coast
The only survivor from this party of Australian nurses was Sister Vivian Bullwinkel.
I was reminded of this on my newsfeed yesterday. I was also reminded of when we were young and how the older generation used to speak of Lieutenant Colonel Bullwinkel with much reverence.
As there are no signs of a break in the heatwave, and the humidity remains over 90 per cent, it was yet another night for a DVD under the ceiling fans. (I digress, but I must point out that I am sick of feeling like a wet, slimy slug).
And Vivian Bullwinkel led me to a lovely little movie written and directed in the 1990’s by Bruce Beresford : Paradise Road.
Based on actual events Paradise Road is the story of Australian, British and Dutch women, who flee Singapore in February 1942 by ship, only to have their transport bombed and sunk by the enemy. When they reach land they are taken captive by the Japanese and imprisoned on the island of Sumatra.
This movie is very moving with all the usual brutality and atrocities expected and I dare you not to get a little weepy. It is also a tale of much bravery, resilience, and inner strength as the women form a vocal choir, singing music written for piano or orchestra….and I suggest that this show of unbreakable spirit will make you a little weepy also.
American actress, Glenn Close, starred in Paradise Road, though I believe a very young Cate Blanchett stole the show.
Good little movie. Beats these Marvel, Vampire, and Grey franchises any day.
Oh, and for a less sanitised version of Vivian Bullwinkle’s authorised story go here – well worth the read:
4 thoughts on “Paradise Road, a reminder of Vivian Bullwinkle’s story.”
Yes, I liked Paradise Road. I loved the choir and the way some of the Japanese guards loved listening to it. Was White Coolies an early story of Vivian Bullwinkle and her nurses? I read it around 60 years ago.
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White Coollies was written by Nurse Betty Jeffries who worked alongside Bullwinkle. I had been chasing the book for years.
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There was a book launched at the local library earlier this month with the Banka Island nurses as the theme. Disappointed I missed it.
Oh – I didn’t know that. It would have been worth attending.