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Sister Viv

Sister Viv

The Inspiring Gripping WWII Story of Survival and Heroism of a Courageous Young Army Nurse from the Bestselling Award-Winning Author of the REMARKABLE MRS REIBEY, LAWSON and HUDSON FYSH

by Grantlee Kieza
Publication Date: 03/04/2024

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The inspiring story of the nursing hero who survived a wartime massacre and dedicated her life to saving others - from the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of Flinders, The Remarkable Mrs Reibey, Hudson Fysh and Banjo

Bangka Island, 1942: Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel was just twenty-six when Japanese soldiers marched her and her fellow nurses into the shallow waters of a remote beach to be executed.

Miraculously, Vivian would be the lone survivor - and she committed the rest of her long life to an exceptional peacetime career which she lived in tribute to her lost friends. The Lieutenant-Colonel would also be the first woman to be honoured with a statue at the Australian War Memorial for her extraordinary bravery and service - a country girl who become one of the highest ranking women in the Australian army, and who spent her life caring for others.

Growing up in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Vivian started work at a local hospital and joined the Australian Army Nursing Service in World War II. When the Japanese attacked Singapore in 1942, she and sixty-four other nurses were ordered to evacuate, but soon their ship was bombed by enemy aircraft. Some of the women drowned, but Viv made it to Radji Beach on Bangka Island, off Sumatra, with twenty-one of her nursing colleagues.

There Japanese soldiers forced the women to wade back into the sea, and as Vivian felt a bullet slam into her back, she fell face down into the water then waited to die as the soldiers bayonetted survivors. Somehow Vivian lived.

For the next three and a half years Viv was a prisoner of war in a series of brutal Japanese camps where she helped other inmates survive the horror. When peace was restored, she went on to become a giant of Australian nursing - and was a key driver of Operation Babylift, the mass rescue of young orphans during the Vietnam War. For her extraordinary efforts, Vivian was awarded numerous honours, but she never forgot her fallen colleagues, whose lives she paid tribute to with her service to nursing.

From the bestselling, critically acclaimed author of Flinders, The Remarkable Mrs Reibey, Banks and Hudson Fysh, Sister Viv tells the astonishing story of the courage, sacrifice, service, and love of an Australian nursing hero who survived against the odds and dedicated her life to the care of others.

Australasian & Pacific history
Publication Date:
ABC Books
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Grantlee Kieza

Award-winning journalist Grantlee Kieza has held senior editorial positions at The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Courier-Mail.

He is a Walkley Award finalist and the author of twelve acclaimed books, including the recent bestsellers Bert Hinkler: The Most Daring Man in the World, Sons of the Southern Cross and Monash.

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