Mona Margaret WILTON

WILTON, Mona Margaret

Service Numbers: VX61225, VFX61225
Enlisted: 6 August 1941, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
Born: Willaura, Victoria, Australi, 8 September 1913
Home Town: Warrnambool, Warrnambool, Victoria
Schooling: Naringal State School, Mordialloc and Carrum High School, Warrnambool Hospital
Occupation: Nursing sister
Died: Lost at Sea, Banka Island, Netherlands East Indies, 14 February 1942, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Commemorated at the Singapore Memorial to the Missing (within the grounds of Kranji War Cemetery); (CWGC) Official Commemoration - Memorial Location: Column 142.
Memorials: Allansford Memorial Gates, Augusta Australian Army Nursing Sisters Monument, Australian Military Nurses Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bicton Vyner Brooke Tragedy Memorial, W.A., Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital Memorial Rose Garden, Kapunda Dutton Park Memorial Gardens Nurses Plaques, Panmure Sister Mona Wilson Memorial Plaque, Singapore Memorial Kranji War Cemetery, Warrnambool Base Hospital Memorial Window
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World War 2 Service

6 Aug 1941: Enlisted VX61225, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Melbourne, Victoria
6 Aug 1941: Enlisted VX61225, General Hospitals - WW2
12 Feb 1942: Embarked Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1), Lieutenant Colonel, VFX61225, 2nd/13th 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, Banka Strait (by Banka Island); (AWM) The Sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke.
14 Feb 1942: Involvement Lieutenant, VFX61225, Australian Army Nursing Service (WW1)
15 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

"...VFX61225 Sister Mona Margaret Wilton, 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, thirty two survived the sinking and were taken Prisoner of War (POW) of which eight later died in captivity, another twenty two 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. Sister Wilton, aged 28, was one of twelve nurses who were lost at sea. She was hit by a raft or a lifeboat and swept away. She was the daughter of Frederick Wilton of Allansford, Vic." - SOURCE (


Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Mona Margaret Wilton, 13th AGH, VX61225

(Information supplied by her brother, Tom Wilton, in Mona's memory.)
Photograph ©copyright to the family of Sr. M.M. Wilton.

Born on 8th August 1914 at Hamilton Hospital, Mona's father Frederick was a blacksmith and her mother Christina (nee Stewart) was a nurse. She had an older sister Amy and later a younger brother Tom. The family lived in Willaura, Victoria, with Mona beginning her education at Willaura State School. In 1924 the family moved to Naringal, near Warrnambool when Frederick purchased a farm and Mona continued her schooling at Naringal State School. In 1928 she went to stay with an aunt, Mrs George Meyers in Brighton and attended the Mordialloc and Carrum High School for 1 year.  She then returned to the farm at Naringal and worked as sewing mistress at Naringal State School until 1933. She played tennis with the Allansford Tennis Club and attended the Allansford Presbyterian Church where, for a time, she was organist for church services.
In 1933, she joined her sister Amy as a nurse at Warrnambool Hospital, completing her training in General Nursing after 3 years, after which she obtained her Midwifery Certificate. While Mona was training, she met Wilma Oram and the two became firm friends. On completing her training, Mona did some private nursing around Warrnambool and then went to Daylesford as Head Sister for a time.
She kept in touch with her nursing friend Wilma. In 1939, Mona decided to join the AANS. She began training at Darley near Bacchus Marsh. It was Mona who persuaded Wilma Oram to join the Australian Army Nursing Service and eventually they both found themselves attached to the 13th AGH. After their final leave, the two nurses boarded the Wanganella in 1941, expecting to go to the Middle East.
Arriving instead on September 15th at Singapore where they initially set up a hospital at St Patrick's School. Mona expressed disappointment in her letters as it seemed at first to the nurses that they were on holiday.  Next they transferred to Johore Bahru where they set up the 13th AGH. However, soon after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour the invaders approached overland from the north and the nurses and their patients had to retreat to Singapore.
Mona's family reports: "Tent hospitals had been erected as there were many wounded soldiers coming in to be looked after. The nurses also had to contend with Japanese planes directing their Tbombs at the hospital.” After the retreat of all units to Singapore members of the 13th AGH set up hospital again at St Patrick's School, where they had been stationed when they first arrived. The situation rapidly became hopeless and nurses of all units, extremely unwilling to leave wounded soldiers behind, were ordered to evacuate by sea in various requisitioned ships. Mona's family reports: "Mona was one of the group that boarded the Vyner Brooke (12th February 1942). When the small ship was bombed and sunk by the Japanese, Mona and her friend Wilma were in the water together as the ship went down. Mona was not seen again after the ship listed onto them and sank." (For eye witness accounts of the sinking of the Vyner Brooke)
Mona's vivacious personality is remembered fondly by her family and friends, and is preserved in the optimistic and often funny letters that she wrote to her nursing colleagues at home.