Elmes, D G (Sister, b.1914 - d.1942)

Accession Number PR88/108
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 2 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Letter
Maker Elmes, Dorothy Gwendoline Howard 'Buddy'
Date made 1941-1942
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM315 419/075/048
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copyright expired. Copying permitted subject to physical condition. Permission for reproduction not required.

Collection relating to the Second World War service of NFX70526 Sister Dorothy Gwendoline Howard Elmes, Australian Army Nursing Service, Malaya, 1941-1942.

Wallet 1 of 1 - Collection contains 33 letters from Sister Elmes "Buddy" to her close friend "Smitty" [Clarice Jean Smithenbecker], while serving with the AIF in Malaya from 1941-1942. Collection contains mostly social news related to off duty hours and references to nursing friends in Australia. The later letters refer briefly to the outbreak of the Pacific War.

Collection also contains 4 photographs.

History / Summary

Sister Elmes was one of 65 Australian Nurses evacuated from Singapore aboard the SS Vyner Brooke on 12 February 1942. The ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft and sunk leaving approximately 150 survivors who made it ashore at Banka Island. The island was occupied by the Japanese and most of the survivors were taken captive. However, the survivors who landed on Radji Beach joined another party there that consisted of civilians and up to 60 Commonwealth servicemen and merchant sailors who had made it ashore after their own vessels were sunk. After an unsuccessful effort to gain food and assistance from local villagers, a deputation was sent to contact the Japanese with the aim of having the group taken prisoner. The deputation was taken prisoner upon making contact.

Sister Elmes was killed on Banka Island, Netherlands East Indies, 16 February 1942, when a party of Japanese troops arrived at Radji Beach a few hours after deputation had made contact with Japanese. The Japanese soldiers who arrived at Radji Beach shot and bayoneted the men then forced the 22 Australian nurses, including Sister Elmes, and the one remaining British civilian woman, to wade into the sea, they were then shot from behind.

There were only two survivors, Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, and Private Cecil Kinsley, a British soldier.