Irene Ada SINGLETON

Poppy

SINGLETON, Irene Ada

Service Numbers: VX48842, VFX48842
Enlisted: 6 August 1940, A.A.M.C., Depot - Melbourne, Vic, Australia.
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station
Born: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia , 21 June 1908
Home Town: Caulfield, Glen Eira, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nurse
Died: Illness (POW of Japan), Sumatra - Netherlands, East Indies, 20 February 1945, aged 36 years
Cemetery: Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia
(CWGC) Official Commemoration - Grave Location: 6. F. 8.
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Maffra Library Memorial, Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A.
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN VX48842, Australian Army Nursing Service
6 Aug 1940: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN VX48842, Australian Army Nursing Service, A.A.M.C., Depot - Melbourne, Vic, Australia.
11 Jan 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, 2nd/10th Australian General Hospital
2 Feb 1941: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN VX48842, Australian Army Nursing Service, Embarked Ship: 02/02/1941, "Queen Mary", for Singapore; (NAA, Pg-5).
23 May 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN VX48842, Australian Army Nursing Service, Malaya/Singapore
17 Jan 1942: Transferred Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Transferred - as per stated: 17/01/1942, (10 AGH) det., from duty - to (2/4 C.C.S.); (NAA, Pg-5).
17 Jan 1942: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Staff Nurse, SN VX48842, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Malaya/Singapore
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN VX48842, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, 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, AWM - Roll of Honour; Also - POW'S & Missing Persons.
16 Dec 1943: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Lieutenant, SN VFX48842, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Malaya/Singapore
16 Dec 1943: Promoted Australian Army Nursing Service, Lieutenant, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, (NAA, Pg-5)
18 Feb 1944: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN VFX48842, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Malaya/Singapore
18 Feb 1944: Promoted Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Promotion (Demoted): 18/02/1944, Appointed [Appointd.,] Sister; (NAA, Pg-5).

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Rene trained in Melbourne as a nurse, and was at the Caulfield Military Hospital when she volunteered for overseas service in August 1940. In February 1942 she was one of a group of nurses evacuated aboard the "Vyner Brooke" as Singapore burned.

The Japanese bombed the ship, which sank. Twelve nurses drowned and another 21 who reached the shore of Banka Island were massacred by the Japanese. Rene was one of the 32 nurses who survived. She and the others were held as prisoners of war at Muntok, Sumatra under atrocious conditions, and it was not until March 1943 that her family knew she had survived. Conditions slowly worsened, and Rene became ill and died at Sumatra on 20 February 1945 [RE:  (AWM) Roll of Honour]. She was 36 years of age.

In August 1945 newspapers reported the rescue of the soldiers, but that the nurses could not be found. Her family was not advised of her death until September 1945. Rene now rests in the Jakarta War Cemetery. She died not knowing that her brothers, Douglas and Ken, had been killed within ten days of each other during heavy fighting in North Africa almost two years before.

This plaque is in the Maffra Library, beside one to Louie Riggall, who died on service as a VAD in France in 1918.

These notes have been extracted from "Rene died on Banka Island: Irene Ada Singleton (1908-1945)" by Ann Synan in Gippsland Heritage Journal #27 (2003).

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