Minnie Ivy HODGSON

HODGSON, Minnie Ivy

Service Numbers: WFX11174, W16357, WX11174
Enlisted: 14 July 1941
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital
Born: Leederville, Western Australia, 16 August 1908
Home Town: Yealering, Wickepin, Western Australia
Schooling: Presbyterian Ladies College Perth, Western Australia
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Murdered as a POW of Japan in the Bangka Island massacre, Radji Beach, Bangka Island, Netherlands East Indies, 16 February 1942, aged 33 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., Kapunda Dutton Park Memorial Gardens Nurses Plaques, Launceston Banka Island Massacre, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery, Wickepin District Roll of Honour WWII, Wickepin District Service Volunteers Honour Board, Wickepin Fallen Soldiers Memorial, Yealering Memorial Gates
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World War 2 Service

14 Jul 1941: Enlisted WX11174, General Hospitals - WW2
14 Jul 1941: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, W16357
14 Jul 1941: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, WFX11174, Swan Barracks, Western Australia
8 Sep 1941: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Staff Nurse, WFX11174, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, HS Wanganella, Fremantle
12 Feb 1942: Embarked WFX11174, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Evacuated - Embarked Ship - Date and Place of Departure: SS Vyner Brooke, 12/02/1942, Singapore, (with 65 nurses, and 116 civilians); to Japanese Aircraft Attack, sinking disaster of SS Vyner Brooke - Date and Location: 14/02/1942, Bangka Strait (by Bangka Island); NAA Service Record of Sister: Minnie Ivy HODSON; SN WFX11174; (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
16 Feb 1942: Wounded WFX11174, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, Malaya/Singapore, After 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 - Date: 16/02/1942; NAA Service Record of Sister: Minnie Ivy HODGSON; SN WFX11174; Also (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
16 Feb 1942: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, WFX11174, 2nd/13th Australian General Hospital, 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

Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...Minnie was from Yealering , coming to PLC in 1923 but leaving after one year. Her relatives describe her as a “good country girl, used to standing up for herself”.

She qualified as a nurse and enlisted in the Army on 14 July 1941. By February 1942 she was in Singapore; a Sister in the 13th Australian General Hospital. With the Japanese about to lay fall to the city, 65 nurses, including Minnie, and over 200 patients, military personnel and civilians were evacuated aboard the steamer Vyner Brooke.

Despite being clearly marked as a Red Cross ship, the Japanese bombed the Vyner Brooke between Sumatra and Borneo. As it was sinking, they flew over, again and again, strafing the survivors with machine guns. Most perished then.

…but not Minnie.

After drifting in the ocean for hours, some survivors made it ashore to Bangka Island where they were eventually joined by others – 22 nurses and about 70 civilians, allied servicemen, sick and wounded in all.

The next morning the nurses, including Minnie, remained on the beach under the red cross, treating the survivors while a small party set off to find some Japanese soldiers to organise for their surrender.

They ran into a Japanese patrol who refused their surrender, but let the civilians with them go free. The others returned to the beach and marched the able-bodied men over the hill. Those on the beach heard gunfire and saw the patrol returning and terrifyingly, wiping blood from their bayonets.

The Japanese then ordered the nurses into the water. Thigh deep, they were then fired on, and survivors bayonetted. This is when Minnie died..." - READ MORE LINK (www.plc100.info)


Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Sister Minnie Ivy Hodgson WX11174, 2/13th Australian General Hospital was born at Leederville Western Australia on the 16 August 1908, the 4th of seven children to John William Hodgson and Contrary Hodgson (nee Savage). Her relatives described her as “… a good country girl, used to standing up for herself …”

Minnie’s surname is sometimes misspelt, as in the book On Radji Beach where the spelling is ‘Hodgeson’, presumably a typo.

It is interesting to see how dates of birth can be sometimes erroneously recorded or interpreted. On Minnie’s Service Record in the National Archives the DOB in her own hand writing on her Attestation Form and on the hand written Officer’s Record of Service is clearly shown as 16 August 1908. But on a typed page of her Officer’s Record of Service and in www.ancestry.comher DOB is shown as 16 April 1908. The DOB in August in her own writing is presumably correct.

Minnie’s father John was born in 1874 in Brighton Sussex England and married Contrary Savage in 1900 in Perth WA. They both came from large families and continued the tradition with 7 children in 19 years. He died on 21 June 1960 at the age of 86 and is buried in Nedlands Western Australia. Contrary Savage was born on 1 October 1881 in Busselton Western Australia and died on 4 March 1965 age 83 years.

Her father was by trade a fitter and turner and after immigrating to Australia he took up farming in Yealering in 1908 (the year Minnie was born). Yealering is a small agricultural service town in the ‘wheatbelt’ region of Western Australia, about 220 km south of Perth. Today the population is about 200 and apart from a hotel/pub dating from 1925 and a few shops there is little else. Little is known about Minnie’s schooling except that she attended the Presbyterian Ladies College in Perth in 1923 (aged about 15 years) but left after one year.

From her Service Record it seems that Minnie enlisted for service in Australia for Abroad on 12 December 1940 at Swan Barracks in Perth showing her home town as Yealering. She was the called up for “Full time Duty in the Australian Army Nursing Service on the 14th July 1941. Her paybook photo shows a lean faced, dark haired young woman who typified the country woman her relatives described.

Many of the Service Records of the Nurses and others who served in WW2 have not yet been digitised and as such are not readily available at the National Archives. Nevertheless, Minnie’s is available and it makes interesting reading and would probably be similar to the records for most of the Nurses killed at Raji Beach on 16 February 1942. Some pages of the Record are included as photos.

Her Record shows details of her enlistment, her “call up for fulltime duty”, her pre-embarkation leave and much more. It seems that after being called up for Full Time Duty Minnie was detached for about 2 weeks to the Narembeen District Hospital, about 3 hours drive east of Perth and about an hour from Yearlering. After arriving in Singapore, she was attached to the 2/10th AGH at various times before finally rejoining her unit the 2/13th AGH on the 13 December 1941. Minnie became ill with influenza in mid October 1941 and was admitted to the 2/10th AGH to recover whci she did within a few days.

The terrible uncertainity as to her fate, as with all the nurses, is very clearly portrayed on her Record. Notations include “8-6-44 Missing bel Killed on or after 11/2/42” and only the next day on “9-6-44 Prev Rep Missing. Now Reported Missing believed Killed on or after 11/2/42”. And then on 12-1-45 “….and is for official purposes presumed to be dead.” The tragic reality of what happened is stated on 21-12-45 as “Deceased whilst POW executed by Japanese”.

At last, on the 8 March 1946, certainty prevails with the Record noting “Amend last recorded date of death to read 16-2-42.” How sad are these notations.

As with other nurses in her Unit she left Australia in early September 1941 and sailed for Malaya and Singapore on the Hospital Ship Wanganella, arriving on 15 September 1941. She was part of the 2/13th Australian General Hospital that was initially located at St Patrick's School on Singapore Island. Between 21-23 November 1941 the entire hospital was moved across the Straits to Tampoi Hill on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Due however, to the swift progress of the Japanese invasion force, most of the hospital staff was evacuated back to Singapore in late January 1942

Minnie does not seem to be mentioned in any of the literature about the AANS nurses on the SS Vyner Brooke but we know that she somehow made it to Radji Beach by the 15 February and was one of the nurses murdered by Japanese troops on 16 February 1942.

Her life and work is commemorated by a plaque on the Lake Yealering Memorial Gates at the local primary school in Sewell Street, Yealering WA. These gates were erected by the people of the Yealering District in 1954 in memory of those men and women who gave their lives during the War.

Minnie is also remembered on Plaque Number 262 in Honour Avenue, Kings Park, Bicton WA.

Principal sources


(1) Notation on page 8 of Minnie’s Service Record
Michael Pether, Historian and Researcher Auckland New Zealand
On Radji Beach by Ian Shaw
Public records