Mary Elizabeth CUTHBERTSON


CUTHBERTSON, Mary Elizabeth

Service Numbers: VX38746, VFX38746
Enlisted: 20 August 1940
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital
Born: Stirling, SA, Australia, 5 March 1910
Home Town: Ballarat, Central Highlands, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nursing sister
Died: Murdered as a POW of Japan in the Bangka Island massacre, Bangka Island, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, Banka Island, Netherlands East Indies, 16 February 1942, aged 31 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
(CWGC) Official Commemoration - Memorial Location: Column 141, Singapore Memorial (within Kranji War Cemetery)., Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Memorials: Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, Ballarat Base Hospital Sisters who served King and Country WW2, Bicton Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A., Kapunda Dutton Park Memorial Gardens Nurses Plaques, Launceston Banka Island Massacre, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, SN VX38746, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
20 Aug 1940: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Nursing Sister, SN VX38746, 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital, A.A.M.C., Depot - Melbourne, Vic, Australia
20 Aug 1940: Enlisted SN VFX38746, General Hospitals - WW2
20 Dec 1940: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, SN VX38746, 2nd/7th Australian General Hospital
25 Jul 1941: Transferred Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, General Hospitals - WW2, A.A.N.S., 7th - Detached to - 115 G.H Heidelberg, Vic, Aust.; from - Date: 25/07/1941, to - Date: 29/07/1941; (NAA, Pg-4).
30 Jul 1941: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, SN VX38746, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), (NAA, Pg-4)
23 Aug 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, SN VFX38746, 10th Australian General Hospital , Malaya/Singapore
20 Dec 1941: Promoted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, 10th Australian General Hospital , (NAA, Pg-7)
10 Jan 1942: Transferred Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, (NAA, Pg-4, bottom of page).
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, SN VFX38746, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Embarked Ship - Date and Place of Departure: SS Vyner Brooke, 12/02/1942, Singapore, (with 65 other nurses, and civilians); to Japanese Aircraft Attack - sinking disaster - SS Vyner Brooke - Date and Place: 14/02/1942, Bangka Strait (by Bangka Island); (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
15 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore

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Biography contributed by Daniel Bishop

Daughter of William Melville CUTHBERTSON, & Lillian Beartrice (nee HOOPER) CUTHBERTSON, of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.


per AWM:

 VFX38746 Sister (Sr) Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Cuthbertson, 2nd/20th Australian General Hospital, Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). Sr Cuthbertson, along with 64 other Australian nurses and over 250 civilian men, women and children, were evacuated from Singapore, three days before the fall of Malaya, onboard the SS Vyner Brooke. On 14 February 1942 the SS Vyner Brooke was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk in Banka Strait. Twelve Australian nurses were killed and 31 of the nurses who survived the sinking were captured as Prisoners of War (POWs), eight of whom later died during captivity. The remaining 22 nurses, including Sr Cuthbertson, aged 32, were washed ashore on Radji Beach, Banka Island, where they, along with 25 British soldiers, surrendered to the Japanese. On 16 February 1942 the Japanese bayoneted the soldiers and ordered the nurses to march into the sea where they were shot. The only survivors of the massacre were Sr Vivian Bullwinkel and a British soldier. Both were taken POW, but only Sr Bullwinkel survived the war. Sr Cuthbertson was the daughter of Mr W M Cuthbertson of Ballarat, Vic.