The survivors of the sinking reached Bangka Island In the Dutch East Indies, where an awful fate awaited many of them. They joined up with another party 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. Anticipating this, all but one of the civilian women followed behind. A party of Japanese troops arrived a few hours later. They shot and bayoneted the males and then forced the 22 Australian nurses and the one British civilian woman who had remained to wade into the sea, then shot them from behind. There were only two survivors - Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, and Private Cecil Kinsley, a British soldier. “The girls fell one after the other.” Sister Bullwinkel, badly wounded and feigning death, was the only nurse survivor.After hiding in the jungle for several days the pair eventually gave themselves up to the Japanese. Kinsley died a few days later from his wounds, and Bullwinkel spent the rest of the war as an internee.
The ship was originally SS Vyner Brooke, which was both Royal Yacht and transport ship, named after the last White Rajah of Sarawak...the Rajahs had been granted their land and title by a Sultan of Brunei in 1841. Sarawak was ceded to the British Empire after WW2, against the wishes of native members of the council, known as the Council Negri...
The period of Brooke rule is generally looked upon favourably in Sarawak, and in recent times the government has accepted the importance of their legacy for its social, cultural, and touristic value.
A daughter of the last White Rajah, Princess Pearl, was the first wife of bandleader Harry Roy...
Link to story of Sister Bullwinkel