Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove to attend nurses commemorative service in Bathurst

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Sir Peter Cosgrove will be among those to honour the dedication of nurses in times of war and peace at an upcoming service in Bathurst.

Since the South African (Boer) War, 102 Australian nurses have died on active service, while many civilian nurses have also given their lives serving others.

The service, to be held this Sunday will pay particular focus to those who lost their lives aboard the SS Vyner Booke which evacuated women and children from Singapore on February 12, 1942, just three days before the fall of Malaya.

On board was Rylstone nurse Sister Mary Dorothea Clarke who was last seen clutching onto debris after this ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft and sunk.

Of the 65 Australian nurses on board, 12 were killed during the attack or drowned, 21 were murdered on the nearby Radji Beach (which was occupied by the Japanese), and 32 became prisoners-of-war, eight of whom died before the end of the war.

Bathurst nurse Linda Shields, who is Professor at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, said it was vial to remember those nurses who had given their lives while in service.

“It’s very poignant and I think as a member of the nursing profession have an obligation to ensure these stories are told and the people are remembered,” she said.

Singapore High Commissioner Mr Kwok Fook Seng will also be among the special guests at the service as some who died on the Vyner Brooke were from Singapore.

Ms Shields said while a lot of information was known about military nurses, less was known about civilian nurses died on the job.

One recent civilian nurse who died was outback nurse Gayle Woodford, 56, who was working in South Australia's APY Lands.

Ms Woodford was the nurse on-call for a medical clinic in the Nganampa Health Service on the night of her murder.

The service will be held at All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral at 4.30pm and is open to the public.

Full military dress, medals, nursing uniforms and academic dress may be worn.

VISIT: Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove is coming to Bathurst.

VISIT: Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove is coming to Bathurst.