Ada Joyce BRIDGE

BRIDGE, Ada Joyce

Service Numbers: N108177, NX76284, NFX76284
Enlisted: 8 April 1941
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital
Born: Scone, New South Wales, Australia, 6 July 1907
Home Town: Darlinghurst, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nursing sister
Died: Murdered by Japanese Troops whilst a POW, Bangka Island, Netherlands East Indies, 16 February 1942, aged 34 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorial Location: Column 141, Singapore Memorial (within Kranji War Cemetery)
Memorials: Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial, Bicton Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A., Darlinghurst St John's Anglican Church Honour Board, Kapunda Dutton Park Memorial Gardens Nurses Plaques, Launceston Banka Island Massacre, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery
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World War 2 Service

8 Apr 1941: Enlisted N108177
8 Apr 1941: Enlisted NX76284, General Hospitals - WW2
19 Aug 1941: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, NFX76284, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Victoria Barracks - Sydney, NSW, Australia
30 Aug 1941: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, NFX76284, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Embarked Ship: HMAS Wanganella, 30/08/1941; (Pg-33, of 42Pg's) NAA Service Record of Sister: Ada Joyce BRIDGE; SN NFX76284.
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, NFX76284, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Evacuated - 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.
16 Feb 1942: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, NFX76284, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Malaya/Singapore
16 Feb 1942: Wounded Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, NFX76284, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Malaya/Singapore, After the sinking disaster of SS Vyner Brooke, 14/02/1942, Banka Strait; (with 22 nurses) made for shore - Radji Beach, Banka Island; Killed in Action (Massacred) by Japanese Troops, 16/02/1942; NAA Service Record of Sister: Ada Joyce BRIDGE; SN NFX76284; Also (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
23 Mar 1943: Promoted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Lieutenant, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Promotion - as per stated - appointed: 23/03/1943; (Pg-39, of 42Pg's) NAA Service Record of Lieutenant: Ada Joyce BRIDGE; SN NFX76284.


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.


Showing 1 of 1 story

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

"Joyce faced every crisis with cheerfulness and fortitude". (1)

Sister Ada Joyce Bridge, NFX 76284, 2/10 Australian General Hospital (also seconded to 2/13 AGH in Malaya), Australian Army Nursing Service, was born in 6 July 1907 in Scone, NSW. She had an older brother and was the daughter of William Thomas Bridge and Ada Matilda Bridge (nee Thurlow). William was a descendant of Joseph Bridge, a convict from Lancashire England who arrived in NSW in 1806 on the “Fortune”. Her family home was ‘Stoney Creek’, Belltrees about 30 km from Scone in the Hunter Valley area of NSW.

‘As a young girl, Joyce loved the country life at Stoney Creek. She and her brother rode their horses about 5km to the Public School at Belltrees until they reached 6th class. The outdoor life tannd her skin and emphasised her brown eyes and short brown hair. Those who knew Joyce at this time described her as a happy girl, who enjoyed her life to the full.

She had a ready smile which often turned into an infectious chuckle…… She was not very tall, but her figure was slim; her arms were strong and her hands were gentle……Joyce was socially very popular, and being an excellent dancer, she enjoyed the local dances.’ ‘. (p5 One Life is Ours….)

She applied to St Luke's Hospital at Darlinghurst Sydney, was accepted as a trainee nurse and commenced on 1 February 1930 and graduated in 1934. She sat for her Nurses Registration Exam on 23 May 1934 and passed all subjects.

A friend who graduated with Joyce remembered her “as a very pleasant companion, very bright with a great sense of humour. She was a genuine friend, a typical country girl who took pride in her work and was very good nurse.” (p8 One Life is Ours….)

She left St Luke's some time after graduation and joined the Toshack’s Nursing Club based in Kings Cross Sydney and undertook private nursing. During this time she shared flats in the area with a number of her colleagues from St Luke’s.

Joyce came from a very patriotic family and enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service on 8 April 1941 and was called up 19 August 1941. She was posted to the 2/13th Australian General Hospital (AGH) and travelled to Singapore aboard the Australian Hospital ship Wanganella arriving on the 15 September 1941.

Initially, Joyce and nine other sisters were attached to 2/10 AGH at Malacca in Malaya, where they stayed for three weeks. But life was not all nursing and hard work. ‘Joyce and her friends found new and enjoyable off-duty activities; shopping in the village, sampan picnics, golf, swimming and tennis, as well as the usual social activities in the sister’s mess. She enjoyed her work in the wards, gaining experience of nursing in the tropics and becoming acclimatised’. (p15 One Life is Ours….)

All ten sisters then returned to Singapore to commence work at 2/13 AGH, which was located at St Patrick's School. Between 21-23 November 1941 the entire hospital was moved across the Strait to Tampoi Hill on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. However, due to the swift progress of the Japanese invasion force, most of the hospital staff was evacuated back to Singapore in late January 1942.

She survived the sinking of the “SS. Vyner Brooke" but tragically was amongst the nurses massacred on Radji Beach (On Radji Beach p. 218).

A small book was written in 1989 by Joan Crouch entitled “One Life is Ours: the story of Ada Joyce Bridge”. The local newspaper in 1954 described her as “ … a popular and brave district servicewoman …” and on 27 May 1954 The Scone Advocate published an article about the dedication by the Scone & District Country Womens institute of its new Baby Health centre and Assembly Hall, “ … with all conveniences in Kelly Street, part of the land on which the Cottage stands ( facing Kingdon Street) …”, to Joyce Bridge with a most warm description of her “ … To those who knew her in private life there remains the memory of a lovely girl with laughing brown eyes, unafraid to face the horrors of war in her eagerness to help nurse the wounded and suffering …”.

In the Forward to One Life is ours…. Vivian Stratham (Bullwinkel) wrote “When approached to write a Forward…., I felt very priviledged.

‘I met Joyce, as we knew her, for the first time when our Unit… formed in 1941 and posted overseas to Malaya. The Unit had a short but intensive life during which the weaknesses and strengths of individuals were quickly recognised.

It was during this time that our respect, esteem and affection grew daily for Joyce’s commitment, skills and dedication. Joyce faced every crisis with cheerfulness and fortitude.’

‘One cannot but feel resentment and so very sorry that such a young, lovely and defenceless Australian Nurse, wearing a Red Cross Armband, was murdered in such a cruel and calculated way. A young woman who had so much to give the community and humanity….”.

A very fitting tribute to lovely Australian country girl.

Today the baby centre has been absorbed into the wider medical facilities of the town of Scone, but the Country Womens building remains where a portrait hangs of Joyce Bridge. Sadly the original medals issued to her posthumously which hung in the Assembly Hall were stolen some years ago, but have been replaced with miniatures .

Principal Sources

(1) Vivian Stratham (Bullwinkel) in the Forward to One Life is Ours….
- One Life is ours; the story of Ada Joyce Bridge – Joan Crouch
- Michael Pether Auckland New Zealand
- On Radji Beach by Ian Shaw
- Public records



 per AWM

NFX76284 Sister Ada Joyce (Joyce) Bridge, 2/13th Australian General Hospital, Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). She was one of sixty five Australian nurses and over 250 civilian men, women and children evacuated on the Vyner Brooke from Singapore, three days before the fall of Malaya. The Vyner Brooke was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk in Banka Strait on 14 February 1942. Of the sixty five nurses on board, twelve were lost as sea and thirty two survived the sinking and were captured as Prisoners of War (POWs) of which eight later died during captivity. Sister Bridge was one of the remaining twenty two nurses who also survived the sinking and were washed ashore on Radji Beach, Banka Island, where they surrendered to the Japanese, along with twenty five British soldiers. On 16 February 1942 the group was massacred, the soldiers were bayoneted and the nurses were ordered to march into the sea where they were shot. Only Sister Vivian Bullwinkel and a British soldier survived the massacre. Both were taken POW, but only Sister Bullwinkel survived the war. (Photograph copied from original photograph attached to attestation form, lent by Central Army Records Office.)