Studio portrait of VFX38746 Sister (Sr) Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Cuthbertson, 2/20th Australian ...

Accession Number P04131.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print other than silver gelatin
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1940-1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Description

Studio portrait of VFX38746 Sister (Sr) Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Cuthbertson, 2/20th Australian General Hospital, Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). Sr Cuthbertson, along with 64 other Australian nurses and over 250 civilian men, women and children, were evacuated from Singapore, three days before the fall of Malaya, onboard the SS Vyner Brooke. On 14 February 1942 the SS Vyner Brooke was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk in Banka Strait. Twelve Australian nurses were killed and 31 of the nurses who survived the sinking were captured as Prisoners of War (POWs), eight of whom later died during captivity. The remaining 22 nurses, including Sr Cuthbertson, aged 32, were washed ashore on Radji Beach, Banka Island, where they, along with 25 British soldiers, surrendered to the Japanese. On 16 February 1942 the Japanese bayoneted the soldiers and ordered the nurses to march into the sea where they were shot. The only survivors of the massacre were Sr Vivian Bullwinkel and a British soldier. Both were taken POW, but only Sr Bullwinkel survived the war. Sr Cuthbertson was the daughter of Mr W M Cuthbertson of Ballarat, Vic.