Service Numbers: WX3439, WFX3439
Enlisted: 14 August 1940, Claremont, Western Australia
Last Rank: Sister
Last Unit: 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station
Born: Perth, Western Australia, 24 May 1913
Home Town: Perth, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Nursing Sister
Died: Murdered as a POW of Japan in the Banka Island massacre, Banka Island, 16 February 1942, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
(CWGC) Official Commemoration - Kranji War Memorial Location: Column 142.
Memorials: Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Banka Island Massacre, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery, Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A.
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World War 2 Service

14 Aug 1940: Enlisted Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN WX3439, Australian Army Nursing Service, Claremont, Western Australia
7 Dec 1941: Involvement Australian Army Nursing Service, Nursing Sister, SN WFX3439, 2nd/4th Casualty Clearing Station, Malaya/Singapore
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service, Sister, SN WFX3439, 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, Banka Strait (by Banka Island); (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
16 Feb 1942: Imprisoned Malaya/Singapore


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.


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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...WX3439 Sister Bessie Wilmott, 2/4th Casualty Clearing Station, 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 dyas 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, twelve were lost at sea, thirty two survived the sinking and were captured as Prisoner of War (POWs), of which eight later died in captivity. Sister Wilmott 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..." - SOURCE (