Excerpt from “Soldier Surgeon in Malaya” by Thomas Hamilton ~~Nurses~~

picture-SoldierSurgeonInMalaya-HamiltonFatigued by the anxieties of the day, I walked across the grounds to the bungalow that had been allotted to us. Prior to our arrival it had been occupied by the nurses, the last of whom were standing by for a passage on the next available ship out of Singapore.
Sister Shirley Gardam, youngest of our nurses, was waiting on the lawn to greet me with news and greetings from the others.
“We hate leaving, colonel, at a time when we could be of so much use in the hospitals. Can I take any messages back to Australia for you?”
I looked down at her youthful face flushed with excitement of her impending departure. Mindful of the day her father in far-away Tasmania had entrusted me with her welfare, I prayed momentarily, “May God take care of you on a hazardous journey, lassie.”
Out loud, I said, “Thank you, sister. In case I shouldn’t be able to get a message back to my wife, would you please post this from the first Australian port? It’s a letter I wrote this morning in the hope of getting it through.”
Neither of us were capable of expressing our thoughts. She must have known I was doomed to imprisonment, or worse. Mercifully, I was ignorant of the cruel, sad martyrdom awaiting her and her fellow nurses.
Her lips trembled. “Of course I will, colonel. What’s more, I’ll deliver it personally.” Then with a half-strangled sob she took the letter, and ran back to her quarters in the bungalow next door.

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Soldier Surgeon in Malaya” by Thomas Hamilton ~~Nurses~~

  1. Thomas Hamilton was born in Scotland on 30 March 1899, and died on 5 July 1990, aged 91 years. He served as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps, as Commanding Officer of the 2/4th Casualty Clearing Station.
    He saw active service in Malaya at the commencement of hostilities against Japan in early 1942, until the capitulation of the allied forces in Singapore, remaining a prisoner of the Japanese until the end of the war.
    Sister Shirley Gardam was born in Tasmania on 24 August 1910, and died as a prisoner of war on 4 April 1945, aged 34 years.
    She had escaped from Singapore aboard the S.S. Vyner Brooke, which was attacked and sunk. Of the 65 Australian servicewomen on board, 12 were killed during the air attack or drowned following the sinking, 21 were murdered on Radji Beach, and 32 became internees, 8 of whom subsequently died before the end of the war.

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