Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of VFX38746 Sister (Lieutenant) Mary Elizabeth (Beth) ...

Accession Number P02783.014
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print silver gelatin
Place made Australia: Victoria
Date made 20 August 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of VFX38746 Sister (Lieutenant) Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Cuthbertson, 2/10th Australian General Hospital, Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). She was one of sixty five Australian nurses and over 250 civilian men, women and children evacuated on the Vyner Brooke from Singapore, three days before the fall of Malaya. The Vyner Brooke was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk in Banka Strait on 14 February 1942. Of the sixty five nurses on board, twelve were lost at sea and thirty two survived the sinking and were captured as Prisoners of War (POWs) of which eight later died during captivity. Sister Cuthbertson, aged 32, was one of the remaining twenty two nurses who also survived the sinking and were washed ashore on Radji Beach, Banka Island, where they surrendered to the Japanese, along with twenty five British soldiers. On 16 February 1942 the group was massacred, the soldiers were bayoneted and the nurses were ordered to march into the sea where they were shot. Only Sister Vivian Bullwinkel and a British soldier survived the massacre. Both were taken POW, but only Sister Bullwinkel survived the war. Sister Cuthbertson was the daughter of Mr W. M. Cuthbertson of Ballarat, Vic. (Photograph copied from original photograph attached to attestation form, lent by Central Army Records Office.)

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