Nunamara nurse lived to write about POWs

WAR ORDEAL: Jessie Elizabeth Hookway with her war book.After the war, Jessie Elizabeth Hookway wrote a book on her experiences under her maiden name of Simons entitled In Japanese Hands.
Nanjing Night Net

It included the cold-blooded murder of 21 nurses who were marched into the sea and shot.

Mrs Hookway grew up on a farm at Nunamara, then trained as a general nurse at the Launceston General Hospital.

By 1937, she had qualified as a theatre nurse.

Mrs Hookway was called up for active service in the Australian Army Nursing Service and went to Singapore as a member of 13th Australian General Hospital.

She landed in Singapore in September 1941.

Mrs Hookway worked as a senior theatre nurse at Johore Bahru before the hospital was moved to Singapore on January 25, 1942.

She was later to term the evacuation “a very bad mistake”.

Half the hospital’s staff left Singapore on February 12 and reached Australia.

Mrs Hookway remained as part of a corp of 65 nurses in Singapore.

Half the group tried to escape on a small ship, the Vyner Brooke, which was mined and then bombed and sank by the Japanese.

She found an oar, jumped into the sea and was picked up by some men in a raft.

She was taken prisoner of war after landing on Banka Island on February 15, 1942.

Mrs Hookway said that some who reached the shore in lifeboats were shot by the Japanese.

Thirty-two of the 65 nurses on the Vyner Brooke were taken prisoner, with 24 of them living to return to Australia.

Mrs Hookway said that food was scarce and no clothes or medicines were supplied.

In her book, Mrs Hookway recalled that when the war ended in August, 1945, Japanese soldiers had told her “now we can be friends”.

Mrs Hookway spent her later years on a Boat Harbour dairy farm run by her late husband Hayman Hookway.

A thanksgiving service for the life of Mrs Hookway will be held at Uniting Church, Dodgin St, Wynyard, tomorrow at midday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.