Florence Aubin SALMON

SALMON, Florence Aubin

Service Numbers: NFX70991, NX70991
Enlisted: 9 May 1941, Victoria Barracks - Sydney, NSW, Australia
Last Rank: Nursing Sister
Last Unit: 2nd/10th Australian General Hospital
Born: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 20 October 1915
Home Town: Punchbowl, Canterbury, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
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 26 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorial Location: Column 142, 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
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World War 2 Service

9 May 1941: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Nursing Sister, NFX70991, 2nd/10th Australian General Hospital, Victoria Barracks - Sydney, NSW, Australia
9 May 1941: Enlisted NX70991, General Hospitals - WW2
7 Dec 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Nursing Sister, NFX70991, 2nd/10th Australian General Hospital, Malaya/Singapore
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Sister, NFX70991, 2nd/10th 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
16 Feb 1942: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Nursing Sister, NFX70991, 2nd/10th 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 Faithe Jones

Sister Florence Aubin Salmon, NFX 70991, was a member of the 2/10th Australian General Hospital, and was born on the 20 October 1915 in Sydney. She was the daughter of John Henry Salmon and Florence Alexandria Salmon (nee Aubin) of Punchbowl Sydney and belonged to the Methodist Church.

Sadly, despite the historic profile of the Radji Beach war crimes not much is known about Florence’s life. Her pay book photo in the Australian War Memoril shows a smiling woman with the description of ‘… dark hair, hazel eyes …’.

The records at the Australian War Memoril have virtually nothing else about Florence Salmon. Nevertheless, from a report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on 26 June 1938 it is known that she passed her Nurses Registration Board exam whilst at the War Memorial Hospital at Waverley in Sydney, notably at the same time as Winnie May Davis.

Winnie was one of the younger and most popular Nurses and sadly died of illness and malnutrition on 19 July 1945 while a Prisoner of War at a remote camp in Sumatra.

Florence initially enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Victoria Barracks in Sydney on the 22 February 1941. Her record shows that it was for Home Service and that she was at Bathurst NSW. On 9 May 1941 she was called up as a reinforcment for the 2/10th Australian General Hospital that was then stationed at Malacca in Malaya. After joining the 2/10th AGH Florence went back to her old unit at Bathurst until he went on a week’s pre-embarkation leave on 30 June 1941.

Florence sailed to Singapore on the 24 July and disembarked on 17 August and travelled immediately to join her new unit at Malacca. At various times she was seconded to work with the 2/4th Casualty Clearing Station. She was with the 2/10th AGH when most of the hospital staff were evacuated back to Singapore in late January 1942, due to the swift advance of the Japanese invasion force.

Little is known about Florence’s last voyage on the SS Vyner Brooke apart from the fact that, after somehow attaching herself to either a raft or lifeboat she made it to Radji Beach. With the other Australian nurses she proceeded to care for the wounded and injured on the beach.

Two days later on the 16 February 1942 this lovely caring young woman in her mid 20’s was brutally executed by the Japanese soldiers on Radji Beach with twenty Australian Army nurses and the other civilians and military personnel.

The Japanese executed the men in 2 groups; firstly the Officers and then the Other Ranks and civilian men. Both groups were marched around the rocky headland and killed. After returning and wiping their bayonets in front of the Nurses, the Japanese turned their attention to them. Forming Florence and the nurses and one civilian woman into a line facing the sea, the Japanese soldiers carried out one of their most abhorrent war crimes against Allied women on record. Those that were not immeditely killed by machine gun fire were then bayoneted where they lay.

After the men and nurses had all been killed the soldiers proceeded to bayonet to death the 10-15 people who were lying wounded and injured on makeshift stretchers under trees at the back of the beach and in the nearby fisherman’s hut.

According to newspaper records a Memorial Service was held at the War Memorial Hospital Waverley, on 28 October 1945 in memory of Florence Salmon and Winni May Davis (SMH 29.10.45). Shamefully for the journalist involved it is stated even at that early stage that “ …Sister Salmon was shot by the Japanese after years of imprisonment …”. At the Hospital there is a ‘Window of Memory’ dedicated to nurses. Three stained glass panels honour “ … the memory of Winnie Davis and Florence Salmon graduates of the hospital… “.

Florence’s Record of Service concludes with the notation

“Deceased whilst POW. Executed by Japanese”

Florence’s family suffered further unbelievable loss and pain as a result of the War and tragedy was to strike the family again in 1943. Her parents lost her older brother Leonard Salmon of the 2/12th Filed Ambulance, in another Japanese war crime. He was killed in the sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship “Centaur” which was sunk off the coast of Queensland by a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943. Of the 332 medical personnel on board that clearly marked Hospital Ship, 268 were killed in the sinking, including Leonard Salman (centaurassociation.files.wordpress.com).

Along with her friends Florence Salmon will be remembered at the annual Services at Muntok and Radji Beach on the 16 February each year.

Principal sources


Michael Pether Researcher and Historian Auckland New Zeland
Public records


Biography contributed by Daniel Bishop

Daughter of John Henry SALMON & Florence Alexandria Rebecca (nee-AUBIN) SALMON.