Service Numbers: SX10596, SFX10596
Enlisted: 29 November 1940, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: Australian Army Nursing Service
Born: Renmark, South Australia, 11 January 1912
Home Town: Renmark, Renmark Paringa, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Killed in Action (Murdered - POW of Japan), Bangka Island, 16 February 1942, aged 30 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Kranji War Cemetery - Column 141
Memorials: Adelaide WW II Wall of Remembrance*, Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Banka Island Massacre, Glenelg HB5* Woodlands Girls College - Female Service personnel, Renmark - WW II Honour Rolls HB06*, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery, Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A.
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World War 2 Service

29 Nov 1940: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN SX10596, Keswick, South Australia
7 Dec 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN SFX10596, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Malaya/Singapore
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN SFX10596, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Evacuated - Embarked Ship: SS Vyner Brooke (with 65 other nurses, and 116 civilians) Date and Place of Departure: 12/02/1942, Singapore; to Banka Strait (by Banka Island) Attacked by Japanese Aircraft; Disaster - Sinking of SS Vyner Brooke - Date: 14/02/1942; (AWM) Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
15 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore
16 Feb 1942: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN SFX10596, Australian Army Nursing Service, Prisoners of War


Emotional Welcome As Gallant Women Return

Fremantle, Western Australia; The Australian Women's Weekly

Saturday; 3 November 1945, Page 19.


BY: Josephine O'Neill

No legendary figures, but ordinary women, you, who died

Facing the water, last glance each to each

Along the beach, leaving your bodies to the accustomed surf

Your hearts to home

No legendary figures, but ordinary women, you, who lived

Holding the spirit, through the camps slow slime

Unsoiled by time ...

Bringing your laughter out of degraded toil

As a gift to home

As ordinary women, by your dying you fortify the mind

As ordinary women, by your living you honor all mankind.

TROVE: http://nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/55465571

Showing 1 of 1 story



Edited excerpt for Monuments Australia - for full detail click the Monuments Australia link to the left


" Elaine Balfour-Ogilvy was born in Renmark, in 1912,  and was a member of a well known pioneer family with a remarkable record of war service. In 1940; as a trained nurse, she  enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was attached to the 2/4 Casualty Clearing Station AANS. 

.... When it became obvious that Singapore would fall, many nurses despite their protestations were forced to leave the island. The 2/4th`Casualty Clearing Station remained.

The 65 nurses in this Unit were evacuated on February 12, 1942; in the E.M.S, Vyner Brooke. On the 14th the ship was attacked by Japanese bombers, with many losing their lives while endeavouring to reach Banka Island.

Those including Elaine, who reached the island were forced to walk back into the sea by Japanese soldiers who using machine guns killed them...."


The account above is not strictly correct:

After the Vyner Brooke sank, about 150 survivors, clinging to rafts flotsam or swimming made their way to Bangka Island.  At Radgi beach, Matron Irene Drummond and other managed to get a fire going which attracted other survivors during the course of the afternoon and following night.  Many remarked that they couldn't make it and drifted past in the current.  Fate would prove them to be relatively fortunate.

Survivors washed up all along the coast of Bangka island and the Sumatran coast, and quickly became captives of the Japanese.

A large group of 22 nurses and 65 or so British sevice personnel merchant sailors and civilians some from other ships sunk in the area, had gathered at Radgi beach.

Fate was to deal them a dreadful hand. Survivors from the Vyner Brooke joined up with another party of civilians and up to 60 Commonwealth servicemen and merchant sailors, who had made it ashore from other vessels  that had been sunk. After an unsuccessful attempt to source 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.

Later, a party of Japanese troops arrived at Radji Beach. They marched off the males and shot and bayoneted them.  They then ordered the 22 Australian nurses and the one British civilian woman who had remained after the other party had left,  to wade into the sea.  They were machine gunned where they stood. 

There were only two survivors - Sister Vivian Bullwinkel, who feigned death until the Japanese had left, and Private Cecil Kinsley, a British soldier who Sister Bulwinkel found and tended for 12 days, but he later died of his wounds.  Hiding in the jungle the pair eventually gave themselves up to the Japanese. Kinsley died shortly afterwards, and Bullwinkel spent the rest of the war as an internee, without disclosing her survival to other than her closest confidantes.


(c)  Steve Larkins Feb 2018