The Vyner Brooke Tragedy (80 Year Anniversary)

The broken hull of the Vyner Brooke is laying in a state of rusted decay in shallow water by the shoreline.

On the 12th of February, 1942, the coastal steamer named the Vyner Brooke departed from Singapore, headed to Sumatra, with 65 nurses from the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) aboard amongst it’s 181 passengers. The decision was hastily made on February 6th to evacuate, after it became clear that Japanese invasion of Singapore was imminent.

Gladys Boon

A crowd of nurses and soldiers are outside, shifting luggage or overlooking the activity.

Gladys Boon was trained as a nurse at Orange Hospital, having graduated with her nursing certificate in 1915. However, she soon resigned from her position here to work as a nurse at a military hospital in Sydney in December 1916, and eventually enrolled with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) in mid-1917.

Mary de Garis

Portrait of Mary de Garis.

Mary de Garis was one of very few women in Australia at the beginning of World War I that had earned qualifications as a doctor, rather than a nurse. She had enrolled at the University of Melbourne in 1900, being one of only 31 women at the time to do so.

Joyce Tweddell

Portrait of Joyce Tweddell.

Joyce Tweddell was amongst the Australian nurses who boarded the Vyner Brooke ship following the fall of Singapore on the 12th of February, 1942. The ship itself was bombed with Joyce and her fellow nurses aboard, a direct impact causing the vessel to sink in under 15 minutes.

Patricia Violet Slater (1918-1990)

A small room is shown containing a single bed, dresser, mosquito net and several Australian flags hung on multiple surfaces. Assorted belongings are placed upon the dresser, and photos stuck to the mirror above it.

Patricia Violet Slater’s contribution to the world of nursing went far beyond her line of duty. She paved the pathway for many in the field of nursing education, and was a key supporter of bringing modern medical standards to Australia.

Lettitia Gladwys Moreton (1882-1916)

Portrait of Letitia Gladwys Moreton.

Sister Lettitia Gladwys (Gladwys) Moreton was amongst the nurses of the Australian Imperial Force, initially stationed in Egypt at the No. 2 Australian General Hospital in 1915. It was here that she helped and tended to soldiers coming from Gallipoli.