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St George Hospital


Nurses Association


Sister Janet Kerr

Sister Janet Kerr 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 on board twelve were lost at sea and thirty two survived the sinking and were captured as Prisoners of War (POWs) of which eight later died during captivity. Sister Kerr aged 31, 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.

Sister Kerr was the daughter of Ida Maud Kerr or Woodstock, NSW.


Selected text republished from: Ritchie, L. The Healing Saint: A hundred year history of The St George Hospital 1892–1994. St George Hospital & Community Health Services, 1998.


At the 2015 Reunion Luncheon, Janice Hodgson (MacDonald 1962) informed the group that her husband was one of the troops who found the remains of Janet Kerr.


Unit: 113 Australian General Hospital

Service: Australian Army

Rank: Sister

Death Date: 16 February 1942

Death Place: Banka Island, Indonesia

Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Cause of Death: Massacred