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Buckshot Bear

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  1. We still have the Labrador seeing eye dog spare change donation figures for the blind in supermarkets, but they have to be now chained to something strong. Scumbags took to carrying them out....stealing the whole dog to get a couple of bucks.
  2. Soldier and dog, departure of the 6th Division for the Middle East January 1940, State Library of New South Wales
  3. AUSTRALIAN NURSE SURVIVED MASSACRE Elinor Florence. After a bullet from a Japanese machine gun tore through her body, Australian nurse Vivian Bullwinkel floated face down in the sea and feigned death. She was the sole survivor of the 1942 Bangka Island Massacre, in which 22 nurses were forced to wade into the ocean at gunpoint and then shot in the back. he Early Years Vivian Bullwinkel was born on December 18, 1915 in the small town of Kapunda in South Australia, to George and Eva Bullwinkel. She had one brother, John. Vivian excelled at sports and acquired the nickname “Bully,” which stuck throughout her life. Vivian trained as a nurse and midwife in New South Wales and worked in several locations before volunteering with the Australian Army Nursing Service. “I felt if my friends were willing to go and fight for their country, then they deserved the best care we could give them,” she said in a later interview. Vivian Arrives in Malaysia In September 1941, Vivian sailed for Singapore, and after a few weeks she was assigned to the 13th Australian General Hospital in Johor Bahru, a large city at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Here she nursed Australian servicemen who contracted tropical diseases, or were injured in accidents. Japanese Attack! In December 1941, just days before Vivian’s twenty-sixth birthday, the unthinkable happened. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and declared war on the Allies. Immediately, Japanese troops invaded Malaysia and began their advance southward. Soon afterward, the staff and patients of the 13th Australian General Hospital were ordered to leave Johor Bahru and seek sanctuary on the nearby island of Singapore, in the mistaken belief that Singapore could never be conquered. After arriving in Singapore, the Australian nurses transformed a school into a makeshift hospital. Here they were engaged in trauma nursing, caring for soldiers who suffered the most terrible wounds while the enemy continued its inexorable advance. Soon Singapore was under attack. The girls (most of them still in their twenties) were under continual bombing from Japanese aircraft, knowing that a direct hit to the hospital was imminent. Fleeing the Enemy As Singapore faced certain defeat, and with most ships commandeered for the war effort, a search began for seaworthy vessels to evacuate civilians, nurses, and wounded men. Vivian was amongst the last 65 nurses and 265 terrified men, women and children to board the final boat to depart from Singapore, a small steamship called the SS Vyner Brooke. Night had fallen on February 12 by the time the ship had finished boarding its passengers, and as they left shore Vivian could see huge fires burning along the Singapore coastline. The following day, the captain valiantly tried to conceal his ship behind various islands. Of the 47 ships that fled during those last chaotic days before the fall of Singapore, only five made it to safety. During the night, the captain made a dash for freedom and sailed into the Bangka Strait. However, it was impossible to hide in broad daylight. At 2 p.m. on February 14, the ship was attacked by enemy aircraft and received three direct bomb hits. The captain gave the order to abandon ship, with civilians going over the side first. Then the Japanese aircraft returned, firing at the lifeboats and people swimming in the water. Vivian made it to the beach on nearby Bangka Island by holding onto the side of a lifeboat. The exhausted survivors continued to drift ashore throughout the night and the next day. By the morning of February 16, around 80 survivors were gathered on Radji Beach, including wounded men, civilians, and just 22 of the 65 Australian nurses who left Singapore on the SS Vyner Brooke. No Choice but Surrender The survivors sent out a small search party and located a local village, but the villagers were terrified of Japanese reprisal, and urged them to surrender. However, the survivors decided to wait on the beach and hope for rescue. That night the survivors watched a fierce gun battle at sea, and soon another lifeboat arrived, carrying about 20 British soldiers. Although they found a fresh water spring at the end of the beach, there was no food and the children were crying with hunger. A group of civilians made the difficult decision to set off to the nearby town of Muntok and surrender to Japanese troops. The nurses, British soldiers, and wounded men waited on the beach with the expectation that the Japanese would take them prisoner. Nurses Massacred in Cold Blood Vivian recalled sitting quietly on the beach when a party of Japanese troops arrived and ordered the soldiers to march at gunpoint out of sight behind a headland. A few minutes later the Japanese returned, cleaning their bloodied bayonets. She now realized that all hope was lost. The young nurses were motioned to walk out into the sea, still wearing their khaki uniforms and the Red Cross armbands that should have protected them. With them was an elderly British woman who had refused to leave with the other civilians. Bravely and calmly, the women did as instructed. None of them cried out or attempted to run away. As the women were waist deep in water, facing the horizon, the Japanese opened fire. According to Vivian: “They just swept up and down the line, and the girls fell…” Vivian was at the end of the line. A bullet struck her above her left hip, knocking her into the sea. She held her breath and remained motionless as the current carried her back to shore, surrounded by the floating bodies of her friends. After the Japanese left the beach, Vivian dragged herself out of the water and staggered into the jungle where she lay down and lost consciousness. The bullet had passed through her body, narrowly missing her vital organs. When she woke at dawn, hot and thirsty, she spotted Japanese soldiers on the beach and remained in hiding until they had gone. As she cautiously made her way to the fresh water spring on the beach, Vivian heard an English voice call out! It was a British soldier, Private Patrick Kingsley, who was badly wounded but had also survived the attack. Twelve Days in the Jungle Vivian and Kingsley then shared a terrifying 12 days and nights in the jungle while she tended to his severe wounds, making bandages out of whatever she could find. Neither would have survived without help from some local women. When Vivian went to the nearest village to beg for food, the village headman sent her away. As she walked along the path, a local woman beckoned to her and quietly handed over rice, fish and vegetables. Each time she returned to the village, the women secretly gave Vivian food. Finally, Vivian broke the news to her companion that their only chance of survival lay in surrender. He asked her to wait just one more day, as he wanted to spend his 39th birthday as a free man. By then Kingsley could barely walk, but he was determined to accompany Vivian to their fate. Leaning on each other for support, the two of them hobbled out of the jungle. Vivian carried her water bottle over her hip to disguise her wound and the telltale bullet hole in her uniform. After they surrendered, Kingsley was put into the men’s camp at Muntok. Too badly injured to survive, he died a few days later. Vivian Survives Years in Prison At the women’s prison camp, Vivian was overjoyed to find another group of 24 Australian nurses from the SS Vyner Brooke. They had failed to make it to Radji Beach (luckily, as it turned out), and had landed on another part of the island, where they were captured. For the next 3.5 years in the Palembang prison camp, Vivian kept her story a dark secret, knowing that she would be killed if her Japanese captors were aware that she had observed the war crime. She was determined to bear witness to the massacre so that her fellow nurses would never be forgotten. Of the original group of 65 nurses on board the ship, only 24 returned home to Australia. Twenty-one were massacred, and 36 drowned after the ship sank. Conditions in the camp were so appalling that another eight of Vivian’s fellow nurses died of malnutrition and disease before the war ended. After the War Vivian retired from the Australian Army in 1947 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. That same year, she gave evidence of her horrific experiences at the Tokyo War Crimes Commission trials. Vivian was awarded both the Order of Australia and the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her bravery. Among her medals, is the Florence Nightingale Medal, the world’s highest honour available to nurses. Rather late in life, Vivian Bullwinkel married Colonel Francis West Statham in 1977, and changed her name to Vivian Statham. In 1992 Vivian returned to the scene of the terrible crime, to unveil a memorial to her fellow nurses who had not survived. Standing in front of the Muntok Lighthouse, the memorial incorporates stone from the women’s prison camp and bears a bronze plaque with the names of all 65 nurses who were aboard the ship. Vivian died of a heart attack on July 3, 2000, aged 84, in Perth, Australia. Four of the surviving nurses who were fellow prisoners at the Palembang camp attended her state funeral. At that time, the director of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, paid tribute to this outstanding heroine by saying this: “From a generation that produced so many remarkable Australians, Vivian Bullwinkel was a giant among them.” Rest in peace, Vivian Bullwinkel Statham.
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