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Banka Island


Relief map of Banka Island

Banka Island, located just northeast of Sumatra in the Netherlands East Indies, was a rich tin mining area (in the ballpark of 13,000 tons per year.) The oil field of Banka Penang produced about 2 million barrels a year. The principal port was Muntok, across Bangka Strait from the mouth of the Musa River.

Elements of 229 Regiment landed on the island on 14 February 1942. On 15 February, a group of 22 Australian Army nurses, together with a civilian and about 35 prisoners of war, were murdered by the Japanese:

There were about twenty-two Army sisters, one civilian, and about ten or twelve stretcher cases that had been wounded in the bombing of our ship and the shelling of the other one.

When [the Japanese troops] had finished cleaning their rifles and bayonets the Japanese officer ordered twenty-three of us [the nursing sisters and the civilian] to march into the sea. We had gone a few yards into the water when they commenced to machine-gun from behind. I saw the girls fall one after the other until I was hit. The bullet that hit me entered my back at about waist level and passed straight through. It knocked me over and th waves gradually washed me up on to the beach. I continued to lie there for ten or fifteen minutes, and then I sat up and looked around. The Japanese party had disappeared. I then dragged myself into the jungle and became unconscious...

(Russel 1958)

References

Rottman (2002)

Russell (1958)
Van Royen and Bowles (1952)



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