Annie Merle TRENERRY


TRENERRY, Annie Merle

Service Number: SFX13419
Enlisted: 7 February 1941
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital
Born: Moonta Mines, SA, 31 March 1909
Home Town: Moonta, Copper Coast, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Lost at Sea - Presumed Drowning (SS Vyner Brooke), Bangka Island, Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia, 14 February 1942, aged 32 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
At Sea; (CWGC) Official Commemoration - Memorial Location: Column 142, Singapore Memorial (within Kranji War Cemetery).
Memorials: Adelaide Royal Adelaide Hospital Chapel Roll of Honour, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bicton Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A., Daw Park Repatriation Hospital WW2 Women of the Armed Forces Who Died HR, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital Memorial Rose Garden, Kingoonya & Tarcoola Honour Roll, Moonta War Memorial, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery, Tumby Bay RSL Portrait Memorials
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World War 2 Service

7 Feb 1941: Enlisted Lieutenant, SN SFX13419, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Wayville, SA, Australia
7 Feb 1941: Enlisted Wayville, SA
7 Feb 1941: Involvement SN SFX13419
7 Feb 1941: Enlisted SN SFX13419, General Hospitals
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Lieutenant, SN SFX13419, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Evacuated - Singapore with (69 civilians, 64 nurses, & 47 Crew) Embarked Ship: 12/02/1942, SS Vyner Brooke; Japanese Imperial Force Attacked SS Vyner Brooke - Date: 14/02/1942, Off the coast of Bangka Island, Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia; (AWM) The Sinking of the Vyner Brooke.
14 Feb 1942: Wounded Lieutenant, SN SFX13419, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Malaya/Singapore, Wounded - as per stated: 14/02/1942, missing; Further - 11/02/1942, reported missing, believed Killed; (NAA, Pg-4) Service Record of Lieutenant-Sister: Annie Merle TRENERRY, SN SFX13419.
Date unknown: Involvement


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.


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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Stewart

Annie Merle (sometimes spelt Myrle) Trenerry was born in the Moonta Mines district on 30 Mar 1909 to Edward Joseph Trenerry and Annie Vincent Trenerry (nee Osbourne).  She was the eldest of 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls.  Her father worked in the Moonta Mines 

She went to school in the Moonta Mines district.   After completing her schooling she went to Adelaide and started her general nursing training at Hutt Street Hospital; in those days it was a four year course.  At the completion of this training she moved to Northfield and gained her certification in infectious diseases before moving to Queens Home and gaining her certificate in midwifery.  As a triple certificated sister she was a very highly qualified nurse for her time.

Merle returned to Moonta and became the matron of the Moonta Jubilee Hospital in 1935.  She remained in this employ for approximately 18 months and then moved to Eyre Peninsula as a Bush District Nurse, being based out of Tumby Bay.

On 7 Feb 1941 she enlisted in the Army and traveled to Wayville (SA) for processing: not unexpectedly she was allocated to the Australian Army Nursing Corps.  She was then posted to 13 Australian General Hospital and within 6 weeks was on her way to Singapore, arriving in Apr 41.

Just prior to the fall of Singapore a number of Australian Army Nurses and wounded servicemen were evacuated from the island in two groups aboard hospital ships.  The first ship, “The Empire Star” left on 11 Feb 1942; it was constantly attacked by Japanese aircraft and severely damaged, but finally made it to Batavia (Indonesia) and then to Australia.  The second ship, “The Vyner Brooke” left on 12 Feb 1942; it also was constantly attacked by Japanese aircraft and finally sank on 14 Feb 1942.  Along with the wounded there were 65 Army Nurses aboard this ship: some survived the sinking and made it ashore to Banka Island, of these 21 were murdered by Japanese soldiers on the island.  The sole survivor of this massacre was Sister Vivien Bullwinkel. 

This was a particularly despicable act in a nasty war.

It has not been confirmed how Merle died.  Whether it was during the sinking, or as a result of the massacre, is unknown. A letter from the Army to Merle’s family simply states that she was “one of a number of whom no further report has been received, and still remains posted as missing”.

Nurses were not at war as combatants; they were there to tend the sick, the helpless and the suffering.  A brave lady gave her life to honour her commitment to these ideals.

Merle’s name is included on both the Moonta and Tumby Bay Honour Rolls and a photograph of her is held in the Tumby Bay RSL.  Moonta and the RSL have ensured that her memory is refreshed each year with the awarding of the Annie Merle Trenerry Memorial Trophy.