To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Vyner Brooke on Tuesday14 February 2017, a special collectible commemorative 20 cent coin was released by the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) to recognise the story of this devastating but also inspiring struggle for survival.
During the Second World War SS Vyner Brooke was sunk by Japanese forces during the evacuation of medical staff and the wounded from Singapore. Despite a number of survivors making it ashore at Banka Island, an awful fate awaited those that landed on Radji Beach, the servicemen were bayoneted and nurses were shot, with nurse Vivian Bullwinkel the only Australian to survive the events on Radji Beach. Bullwinkel spent the rest of the war as an internee alongside other survivors of the sinking who landed on Banka Island.
The coin design depicts the SS Vyner Brooke’s torturous journey while the packaging features several images including a group photo of the Australian war nurses and Australia’s most distinguished war nurse, the late Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian Statham AO MBE ARRC ED FNM, also known by her maiden name Vivian Bullwinkel.