Pembantaian di Pulau Bangka- VIVIAN BULLWINKEL

 

Pembantaian di Pulau Bangka

VIVIAN BULLWINKEL

Vivian Bullwinkel adalah salah satu perawat Angkatan Darat Australia yang diperkosa secara brutal oleh tentara Jepang dalam peristiwa pembantaian para perawat Australia di Pantai Radji Muntok pada Perang Dunia II sebelum mereka dibariskan ke laut dan ditembak mati dari belakang dengan senapan mesin. Di kemudian hari, Vivian Bullwinkel, pada saat kejadian itu berusia 26 tahun, ditekan oleh pemerintah Australia untuk tutup mulut tentang pemerkosaan itu.

Permulaan Tahun

Vivian Bullwinkel lahir pada tanggal 18 Desember 1915, di Kapunda, sebuah kota kecil di Australia Selatan, dari pasangan George Francis dan Eva Bullwinkel. Vivian memiliki seorang kakak bernama, John. Vivian unggul di bidang olahraga dan memperoleh julukan “Bully,” yang melekat di sepanjang hidupnya.

Ia memulai pelatihan sebagai seorang perawat dan bidan di rumah sakit Broken Hill, New South Wales kemudian ia melanjutkan karir keperawatannya di Hamilton, Victoria, sebelum kemudian dipindahkan ke rumah sakit Jessie McPherson di Melbourne. Pada tahun 1941, ia pernah mendaftarkan diri menjadi seorang relawan di Royal Australian Air Force namun dia tidak terpilih karena tidak memenuhi persyaratan. Kemudian ia bergabung dengan Pelayanan Keperawatan Tentara Australia di Angkatan 2/13 Australian General Hospital (2/13 AGH) yaitu sebuah organisasi yang terbentuk di Melbourne`s Caulfield Rececourse pada tanggal 11 Agustus 1941.

Pada bulan September 1941, Vivian berangkat ke Singapura, dan beberapa minggu setelahnya, ia ditugaskan ke dalam Angkatan 13 Rumah Sakit Umum Australia di Johor Bahru, sebuah kota besar di ujung selatan Semenanjung Malaysia. Di sini ia merawat prajurit Australia yang diserang penyakit daerah tropis atau terluka dalam kecelakaan. “Aku merasa jika teman-teman kita bersedia untuk berangkat dan berjuang untuk negara mereka, maka mereka layak mendapat perawatan yang terbaik yang bisa kita berikan,” katanya dalam sebuah wawancara. 

Serangan Jepang

Pada bulan Desember 1941, hanya beberapa hari sebelum ulang tahun Vivian yang kedua puluh enam, sesuatu yang tak pernah terduga terjadi. Jepang menyerbu Asia Tenggara dan membom Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, pangkalan militer terbesar Amerika Serikat, dan menyatakan perang pada Sekutu. Segera setelahnya, Jepang menyerbu Malaysia dan mulai masuk melalui daerah selatan.

Segera, staf dan pasien dari Angkatan 13 Rumah Sakit Umum Australia diperintahkan untuk meninggalkan Johor Bahru secepatnya dan mencari perlindungan di pulau terdekat, Singapura. Pemikiran yang salah menganggap Singapura tidak akan pernah bisa ditaklukkan.

Setelah tiba di Singapura, para perawat Australia mengubah sekolah menjadi rumah sakit darurat. Di sini mereka terlibat dalam perawatan luka berat, merawat tentara yang paling menderita dengan luka yang parah sementara musuh terus maju tak terhindarkan.

Segera Singapura diserang. Gadis-gadis perawat itu, sebagian besar dari mereka berusia dua puluhan, berada di bawah bayang-bayang bom pesawat Jepang, sadar bahwa hantaman langsung ke rumah sakit kian mendekat.

Melarikan Diri dari Musuh

Sesaat Singapura akan mengalami kekalahan, dan sebagian besar kapal telah digerakkan untuk upaya perlawanan perang, kapal untuk mengungsi warga sipil, perawat, dan orang-orang yang terluka pun dibutuhkan. Vivian termasuk di antara 65 perawat terakhir dan 265 orang lainnya terdiri atas laki-laki, wanita dan anak-anak yang ketakutan, menaiki kapal terakhir yang meninggalkan Singapura, sebuah kapal kecil uap bernama SS Vyner Brooke.

Pada 12 Februari, malam tiba saat semua penumpang telah naik ke atas kapal, dan saat mereka meninggalkan pesisir, Vivian melihat api besar yang membakar sepanjang garis pantai Singapura.

Hari berikutnya, Kapten SS Vyner Brooke dengan cekatan berusaha menyembunyikan kapalnya di balik pulau-pulau kecil. Dari 47 kapal yang melarikan diri selama hari terakhir sebelum jatuhnya Singapura, hanya lima kapal yang berhasil selamat.

Sepanjang malam, kapten melarikan kapal menuju laut lepas dan berlayar menuju Selat Bangka. Namun, mustahil bersembunyi di siang bolong. Pada pukul 2 siang tanggal 14 Februari, kapal itu diserang oleh pesawat musuh dan terkena tiga hantaman bom langsung. Kapten memberi perintah untuk meninggalkan kapal, warga sipil didahulukan pertama. Kemudian pesawat Jepang kembali, menembaki sekoci dan orang-orang yang berenang di air.

Tidak ada pilihan Selain Menyerah

Vivian berhasil mencapai pantai di Pulau Bangka dengan memegang sisi sekoci. Sepanjang malam, para korban yang selamat dari SS Vyner Brooke dan kapal-kapal lainnya yang ditenggelamkan oleh pesawat tempur Jepang, terus berdatangan ke darat dan pada pagi harinya sudah hampir enam puluh laki-laki, perempuan dan anak-anak serta 22 Perawat Angkatan Darat Australia berkumpul di Pantai Radji. Mereka membutuhkan makanan dan air. Keesokan harinya, dibuatlah regu pencari makanan, termasuk di dalamnya Vivian dan lima perawat lainnya, mencari kampung terdekat. Tetapi orang-orang kampung takut ketahuan Jepang jika menolong mereka. Orang-orang kampung mendesak para korban untuk menyerahkan diri saja ke Jepang. Akhirnya, regu pencari makanan itu menemukan beberapa mata air tawar di ujung pantai.

Malam itu, mereka meringkuk bersama-sama di atas pasir. Mereka menyaksikan baku tembak sengit di laut dan kemudian sekoci besar yang membawa prajurit Inggris datang ke darat. Kini jumlah mereka bertambah menjadi hampir 100 orang.

Dengan jumlah yang bertambah sekarang, mereka memutuskan untuk menyerahkan diri saja ke Jepang dan ada sekelompok kecil yang tetap berada dalam pencarian Jepang. Sementara itu, anak-anak sudah kelaparan dan rewel karena sudah 48 jam tanpa makanan, mulai mengganggu ketenangan orang-orang. Akhirnya, sekelompok sipil yang terdiri dari wanita dan anak-anak membuat keputusan yang sulit yaitu mereka akan berjalan menuju perkampungan dan menyerah kepada tentara Jepang. Sementara para perawat, tentara Inggris, dan orang-orang yang terluka menunggu di pantai dengan harapan jika Jepang menemukan mereka dan akan membawa mereka sebagai tahanan.

Pembantaian di Pulau Bangka

Vivian Bullwinkel duduk dengan tenang di atas pasir pantai ketika pasukan Jepang tiba. Mereka memerintahkan setengah dari laki-laki untuk berdiri dan berbaris berjalan dengan dikawal oleh para tentara berbayonet menyusuri pantai dan menghilang dari pandangan di balik pantai. Setelah beberapa menit, para tentara Jepang itu kembali dan mengumpulkan orang-orang yang tersisa, menuju arah yang sama.

Beberapa menit kemudian, tentara Jepang muncul kembali. Mereka duduk di depan para perawat sambil membersihkan senapan bayonet mereka dari darah. Setelah selesai, mereka memberi isyarat agar para perawat berdiri. Tidak seorang pun dari mereka yang menangis, merintih atau bahkan mencoba melarikan diri. Mereka tidak memiliki senjata apapun dan mereka tahu bahwa para laki-laki yang digiring di pantai tadi sudah mati. Mereka juga tahu bahwa mereka tidak akan selamat. Sia-sia melarikan diri, selain itu, kemana mereka dapat pergi?

Para tentara Jepang mulai mendorong mereka menuju ombak setinggi lutut. Mereka berdiri lurus -dua puluh dua perawat dan seorang wanita sipil tua- menghadap cakrawala. Para perawat masih mengenakan emblem Palang Merah pada lengan mereka, simbol yang konon, seharusnya dapat melindungi mereka. Sekali lagi, tidak ada yang berbicara, tidak ada yang menangis, dan ketika mereka mencapai air setinggi pinggang, Jepang melepaskan tembakan dengan senapan mesin.

Mereka diberondong dengan tembakan dari belakang. "Mereka menyapu tembakan ke atas dan ke bawah dan gadis-gadis berjatuhan satu demi satu," kenang Vivian. Dia melihat satu per satu, teman-temannya menghilang tersapu gelombang. Peluru yang mengenai Vivian tepat berada di atas pinggul kirinya. Dia tersapu ke dalam gelombang dan melayang di dalam air laut. Dia mulai tertelan air laut dan menjadi mual, tapi Vivian belum mati.

Air laut di sekitarnya diwarnai dengan darah yang keluar dari tubuhnya sendiri dan teman-temannya. Dia bisa merasakan darah di dalam air itu saat tertelan air. Dia berusaha bertahan hidup dengan menenggelamkan dirinya ke dalam air laut dan pura-pura mati selama 10 menit sampai tentara Jepang meninggalkan tempat itu.

Dia sadar jika dia muntah atau menunjukkan gerakan apapun, Jepang akan menghabisinya. Dia menahan napas, mencoba mencuri sedikit udara di sana-sini. Meskipun ia tidak bisa berenang, dia melayang dan perlahan-lahan mendekat ke pantai. Walaupun terluka, Vivian Bullwinkel menjadi satu-satunya yang selamat dari pembantaian itu.

Setelah tentara Jepang meninggalkan pantai, Vivian menyeret dirinya keluar dari air. "Akhirnya," katanya kemudian, "Aku mengumpulkan keberanian untuk duduk. Aku melihat sekeliling dan tidak ada tanda-tanda orang. Tak ada siapapun. Hanya ada diriku".

Vivian terhuyung-huyung berjalan beberapa puluh meter ke dalam hutan. Kemudian ia terbaring dan kehilangan kesadarannya, "Aku tidak tahu apakah Aku masih sadar atau tertidur," cerita Vivian. Sebuah peluru telah menembus tubuhnya, nyaris menghilangkan organ-organ vitalnya.

Siang hari dia terbangun, dia merasa kepanasan dan haus. Dia membayangkan mata air tapi langkahnya berhenti seketika saat dia melihat barisan tentara Jepang kembali ke pantai. "Nyaliku menciut lagi," katanya. Dia pun bersembunyi lagi.

Dua Belas Hari dalam Hutan

Kemudian ketika Jepang telah pergi, dia meninggalkan tempat persembunyiannya dan menemukan mata air. Airnya dingin dan dia meneguk sepuasnya. Tiba-tiba, ia mendengar suara laki-laki berbahasa Inggris berkata "Dari mana saja kau?" Itu Private Pat Kingsley, seorang tentara Inggris yang selamat, namun terluka parah, di antara laki-laki lain yang telah ditembak dan dibayonet tentara Jepang. Vivian dan Kingsley tetap bersembunyi di hutan selama 12 hari. Selama itu, walaupun dia juga terluka, Vivian merawat Kingsley yang terluka dan membuat perban dari apa pun yang bisa ia temukan.

Vivian mencari makanan apa pun yang bisa dia dapatkan dari penduduk setempat.  Ketika Vivian pergi ke kampung terdekat untuk mengemis makanan, kepala kampung tersebut mengusirnya pergi. Saat ia berjalan di sepanjang jalan, seorang perempuan setempat memberi isyarat kepadanya dan diam-diam menyerahkan nasi, ikan, dan sayuran. Setiap kali ia kembali ke kampung, para ibu-ibu diam-diam memberi Vivian makanan. Mereka tidak akan bertahan hidup tanpa bantuan dari beberapa perempuan di kampung itu.

Pada akhirnya, penduduk setempat tidak berani memberikan pasokan makanan lagi karena takut ketahuan dan dibunuh oleh tentara Jepang. Vivian menyadari bahwa mereka tidak bisa terus seperti ini, yang membuatnya berpikir untuk menyerahkan diri ke tentara Jepang. Akhirnya, Vivian menyampaikan kepada temannya bahwa satu-satunya kesempatan untuk bertahan hidup adalah menyerah. Kingsley setuju tapi memintanya untuk menunggu 24 jam.

"Aku akan berulang tahun ke-39 besok dan Aku ingin menghabiskan ulang tahunku ke-39 sebagai orang bebas", ia ingat saat Kingsley mengatakannya. "Waktu itu tidak ada benda apapun," kata Vivian. Keesokan harinya, mereka merayakan ulang tahun Kingsley di hutan.

Pada saat itu, Kingsley hampir tidak bisa berjalan, tapi ia bertekad untuk menemani Vivian menuju nasib mereka. Saling membahu satu sama lain, mereka berdua tertatih-tatih keluar dari dalam hutan. Vivian meletakkan botol air minumnya di pinggul untuk menyamarkan bekas luka dan lubang peluru di seragamnya.

Masa Tawanan Perang

Pada 28 Februari, Vivian Bullwinkel dan Private Pat Kingsley menyerahkan diri ke Jepang dan dibawa ke kamp di mana Vivian bertemu kembali dengan tiga puluh satu perawat yang selamat dari tenggelamnya SS Vyner Brooke dan Kingsley dimasukkan ke kamp pria di Muntok. Tak lama setelah kedatangan mereka, Vivian mendengar kabar bahwa Kingsley meninggal akibat lukanya yang terlalu parah.

Di kamp penjara wanita, Vivian sangat gembira bertemu dengan 24 perawat Australia yang menumpang di SS Vyner Brooke. Mereka tidak berhasil mendarat di Pantai Radji (untungnya), dan mendarat di bagian lain pulau itu, di mana kemudian mereka tertangkap.

Wilma Oram, rekan Vivian selama menjadi tahana perang, menggambarkan saat kedatangan Vivian di kamp:

"Ketika kami pertama kali melihat Vivian, kami gembira dan berharap bakal ada rekan-rekan kami yang lain juga datang. Kondisi Vivian terbakar matahari, lelah dan lapar. Seragamnya yang bernoda darah kami ambil dan dicuci. Meskipun pakaian terbatas, Vivian diberikan pakaian untuk menutupi lukanya. Kami memberikannya sedikit nasi dan air yang ada. Tempat tidurnya terbuat dari  lempengan beton yang miring dan kami tidak punya tempat tidur. Saat itulah kami mendengar kejadian yang telah menimpanya. Ceritanya kami pendam dan tidak pernah dibicarakan lagi selama kami berada di tahanan.”

Vivian yang baru bergabung dengan salah satu grup perawat dari 32 grup perawat Australia yang kini akan menghadapi kemungkinan menjadi tawanan Jepang selama berbulan-bulan atau bahkan bertahun-tahun. Selama 3½ tahun penangkaran perawat itu, Vivian Bullwinkel mengalami kesulitan dan kebrutalan dalam kehidupan kamp dan ia bertekad untuk bertahan hidup sebagai saksi pembantaian dua puluh satu rekannya.

Selama di kamp tahanan, Vivian terus menyimpan kisah rahasia gelapnya, ia menyadari bahwa ia akan dibunuh jika pihak Jepang tahu dia telah mengalami kejahatan perang. Dia melaksanakan semua tugas kamp seperti memasak, pelayanan keperawatan, dan bekerja di urusan kebersihan dan pemakaman. Dia dan dua perawat lainnya mendapatkan 80 sen sehari, dari para tawanan lainnya, menggali saluran toilet yang tersumbat dengan tempurung kelapa dan membuang kotoran manusia sejauh setengah kilometer ke dalam hutan.

Pada periode pertengahan Februari 1942 sampai pertengahan Maret 1942, para tawanan dikurung dalam kamp-kamp sementara di Muntok. Setelah itu, para tawanan dipindahkan ke penjara dan kamp-kamp tahanan di Palembang. Pada periode berikutnya, para tawanan dibawa kembali ke Muntok. Bulan September 1944 sampai Maret 1945, tawanan laki-laki ditempatkan di Penjara Muntok. Bulan Oktober 1944 sampai April 1945, tawanan wanita dan anak-anak ditempatkan di kamp wanita. Kemudian, para tawanan dipindahkan ke Belalau, Lubuk Linggau. Pemindahan tawanan laki-laki pada bulan Maret 1945 dan tawanan wanita dan anak-anak pada bulan April 1945. Pada tanggal 24 Agustus 1945, mereka dibebaskan saat Jepang menyerah tanpa syarat kepada sekutu di Perang Dunia II itu.

Dari 65 perawat Angkatan Darat Australia yang berada di SS Vyner Brooke, 12 orang tewas dalam serangan udara Jepang atau tenggelam di tengah laut, 21 orang dieksekusi di Pantai Radji, dan 32 orang lainnya menjadi tahanan perang. Selama masa tahanan, 8 perawat mati karena kekurangan gizi dan penyakit. Dan hanya 24 orang perawat yang kembali ke Australia, salah satunya Vivian Bullwinkel. Setelah menjalani penawanan selama bertahun-tahun sebagai tahanan perang, berat badannya tinggal sekitar 25 kilogram.

Masa Setelah Perang

Sekembalinya mereka ke Australia, Vivian Bullwinkel dan Wilma Oram bekerja di Rumah Sakit Militer Heidelberg sampai Juni 1946. Namun, selama masa itu, kegelisahan dan keinginan untuk bersama rekan-rekan sesama tahanan perang dahulu, membuat mereka keliling ke seluruh bagian negara Australia. Dia menghubungi dan mengunjungi semua keluarga para perawat yang meninggal. Dia menyampaikan beberapa kata-kata terakhir mereka sebelum dibantai.

Pada tanggal 21 Desember 1946, Bullwinkel membeberkan kepada The Canberra Times tentang apa yang dikenal kemudian dengan sebutan Pembantaian di Pulau Bangka. Kesaksiannya membuka mata dunia akan kekejaman Jepang dan mendorong Australia untuk melakukan penyelidikan.

Pembantaian di Pulau Bangka akhirnya dibawa ke Pengadilan Militer Internasional untuk Timur Jauh, atau dikenal sebagai Pengadilan Tokyo. Vivian Bullwinkel meberikan kesaksiannya atas kekejaman Jepang dan tragedi yang menimpa dia dan rekan- rekannya. Namun, ia dilarang Pemerintah Australia untuk menceritakan tentang pemerkosaan itu. “Komandan unit yang bertanggungjawab saat itu ditugaskan di Manchuria pada akhir perang dan tak dipulangkan oleh Rusia sampai 1948. Dia ditangkap dan ditahan di Penjara Sugamo pada 6 Juni 1948, namun ia bunuh diri dua hari kemudian,” tulis berita “The Australian War Crimes Trials and Investigations (1942-51)”.

Penulis buku sejarah militer Lynette Silver, Angels of Mercy, telah mengungkapkan bagaimana Vivian merasa tertekan oleh Pemerintah Australia karena diminta tutup mulut tentang kejadian pemerkosaan oleh tentara Jepang yang telah menimpa dirinya dan teman-temannya pada tanggal 16 Februari 1942, saat ia menghadiri Pengadilan Kejahatan Perang di Tokyo pada tahun 1946.

'Hal yang paling menghantuinya adalah saat dia diberitahu oleh pemerintah Australia bahwa dia tidak boleh mengungkit peristiwa itu dan dia tidak diizinkan untuk berbicara tentang hal itu di Pengadilan Kejahatan Perang. Dia telah dicekal,' kata Ms. Silver kepada wartawan ABC Radio National Breakfast, Fran Kelly.

Vivian Bullwinkel menerima banyak medali dan penghargaan atas keberaniannya dalam memberikan kesaksian di Pengadilan Kejahatan Perang di Tokyo pada tahun 1947 atas pembunuhan massal itu serta perjuangan hidupnya selama menjadi tawanan perang.

Setelah Wilma menikah pada bulan Desember 1947, dimana ia menjadi pengiring pengantin, Vivian pensiun dari Perawat Angkatan Darat Australia dengan pangkat Letnan Kolonel dan menjadi perawat sipil. Selanjutnya, ia menjadi Direktur Keperawatan di Rumah Sakit Fairfield di Melbourne. Vivian menghormati peristiwa tragis rekan-rekannya dengan tetap aktif di organisasi veteran, keperawatan dan penggalangan dana.

Dia bergabung dengan rekan tahanan perang lainnya, Betty Jeffrey, dalam tur penggalangan dana dari seluruh Victoria untuk Nurses' Memorial Centre yang akan dibangun di Melbourne. Tempat itu tidak hanya sebagai peringatan kehormatan bagi perawat penumpang SS Vyner Brooke tetapi untuk semua perawat lainnya, di dalam peristiwa Perang Dunia II, yang telah kehilangan nyawa mereka.

Dalam kesempatan itu, Vivian dan Betty berhasil mengumpulkan lebih dari 240.000 Poundsterling. Bagaimanapun juga, Nurses' Memorial Centre didirikan untuk kesejahteraan dan kemajuan profesi keperawatan dan dalam hal ini, Vivian Bullwinkel telah, mungkin, meninggalkan warisan terbesarnya.

Pada tahun 1970-an, sebagai Anggota Dewan dan kemudian Presiden Universitas Keperawatan, Australia (kemudian berubah menjadi Universitas Keperawatan Kerajaan Australia), Vivian terlibat penuh dalam pembentukan 'Tujuan-Tujuan Pendidikan Keperawatan,' sebuah gerakan yang digembar-gemborkan sebagai langkah pendidikan perawat Australia dari rumah sakit menjadi sebuah pendidikan perguruan tinggi. Atas jasanya, saat posisinya di Dewan Pengupahan Perawat, juga mendorong peningkatan gaji dan kondisi kerja untuk semua perawat di Victoria.

Untuk menghormati orang-orang yang telah membantu perawat selama penawanan mereka, Vivian mendukung dana beasiswa bagi perawat Malaysia untuk melanjutkan studi pascasarjana di Australia.

Beberapa penghargaan kehormatan telah diberikan kepada Vivian, diantaranya Officer of Order of Australia dan the MBE (Anggota Keluarga Kerajaan Inggris Raya) untuk keberaniannya, Associate of the Royal Red Cross, 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal 39-45, Australia Service Medal 1939-1945, Efficiency Decoration, dan Florence Nightingale Medal (Palang Merah) sebagai penghargaan tertinggi di dunia di bidang keperawatan.

Setiap kali dia menerima suatu kehormatan, dia menjadikannya sebagai pengingat atas mereka yang mati terbawa arus ombak dan yang meninggal di kamp-kamp tahanan perang. "Aku ingin menghargai bahwa kehidupan, kesempatan, kesenangan, dan kebebasan di masa muda kita dibayar dengan mahal," katanya belakangan ini.

Agak terlambat dalam hidupnya, Vivian Bullwinkel menikah Kolonel Francis Barat Statham pada tahun 1977, kurang lebih di usia 62 tahun, dan mengubah namanya menjadi Vivian Statham. Setelah menikah, dia terus menjadi tokoh di upacara-upacara peringatan, memberikan waktu untuk wawancara dan menghadiri acara-acara peringatan.

Lima puluh satu tahun setelah dia mendarat kali pertama di Pulau Bangka, tepatnya pada tanggal 2 maret 1993, Vivian Bullwinkel datang kembali ke Bangka, dengan beberapa perawat lain, untuk melakukan satu penghormatan terakhir kepada rekan-rekan mereka. Dia merasa pulau itu asing baginya, bukan bagian dari sejarahnya. Dia menemukan lagi mata air yang dulu, mengunjungi pekuburan, dan salah satu lokasi kamp tahanan perang, tapi dia tidak bisa menemukan di mana tempat kejadian pembantaian yang sebenarnya. Apa yang pernah tak terlupakan baginya, seiring waktu, telah memudar dalam ingatannya dan Pulau Bangka sekarang tampak seperti pulau-pulau lainnya.

Pada akhirnya, dia, dan sesama tawanan perang lainnya, berdiri di pantai tempat dimana mereka merasa berada di dekat lokasi pembunuhan, dan di sinilah mereka meresmikan tugu untuk keempat puluh satu perawat penumpang SS Vyner Brooke yang tidak kembali ke Australia.

Sebuah monumen peringatan dibuat di depan Mercusuar Tanjung Kalian Muntok, monumen ini menggabungkan unsur batu dari sisa bangunan kamp penjara wanita di Muntok dan sebuah plakat perunggu ditempelkan pada batu itu dengan berisi nama-nama semua 65 perawat Australia yang menumpang di SS Vyner Brooke.

Vivian meninggal karena serangan jantung pada tanggal 3 Juli 2000, diusia 84, di Perth, Australia. Empat dari perawat yang masih hidup yang pernah bersama sebagai tahanan kamp menghadiri pemakaman kenegaraannya.

Pada suatu kesempatan, direktur Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, memberikan penghormatan kepada pahlawan-pahlawan yang luar biasa ini, dengan mengatakan: “Dari generasi yang menghasilkan begitu banyak orang Australia yang luar biasa, Vivian Bullwinkel adalah raksasa di antara mereka.”

Pada tahun 2001, nama Vivian Bullwinkel dianugerahkan secara anumerta oleh Victorian Honour Roll of Women. Penghargaan kehormatan ini dibuat pada tahun 2001 sebagai pengakuan atas pencapaian kaum wanita Negara Bagian Victoria, Australia. Penghargaan kehormatan ini dibuat sebagai bagian dari perayaan Seabad Negara Bagian Victoria.

Beristirahatlah dalam damai, Vivian Bullwinkel Statham. Peristiwa di Pulau Bangka tidak akan pernah terlupakan berkat tekadnya demi menjaga kenangan itu tetap hidup.***

 

(Tulisan ini disusun dari berbagai akun daring tentang Vivian Bullwinkel)
Disusun dan diterjemahkan oleh Muhammad Erfan
Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Bangka Barat  

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Massacre of Bangka Island

VIVIAN BULLWINKEL

Vivian Bullwinkel was one of the Australian nurses who were brutally raped by Japanese soldiers in the tragedy of Bangka Island Massacre at Radji Beach during World War II before they were marched into the sea and shot dead with machine guns. Later, Vivian Bullwinkel was ordered by the Australian government to keep silent about being happened to her when she was 26.

The Early Years

Vivian Bullwinkel was born on December 18, 1915, in the small town of Kapunda in South Australia, to George Francis and Eva Bullwinkel. She had one brother, John. Vivian excelled at sports and acquired the nickname “Bully,” which stuck throughout her life.

She trained as a nurse and midwife in the hospital Broken Hill, New South Wales and then pursue a career in nursing in Hamilton, Victoria before being transferred to a hospital in Melbourne, Jessie McPherson. In 1941, she had been enrolled as a volunteer in the Royal Australian Air Force, but she was not chosen because she didn’t meet the requiremnets.. Then she joined the Australian Army Nursing Service in the 2/13 Australian General Hospital (AGH 2/13) is an organization formed in Melbourne`s Rececourse Caulfield on August 11, 1941.

In September 1941, Vivian sailed for Singapore, and after a few weeks, she was assigned to the 13th Australian General Hospital in Johor Bahru, a large city at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Here she nursed Australian servicemen who contracted tropical diseases or were injured in accidents. “I felt if my friends were willing to go and fight for their country, then they deserved the best care we could give them,” she said in a later interview.

Japanese Attack

In 8 December 1941, just days before Vivian’s twenty-sixth birthday, the unthinkable happened. Japan invaded Southeast Asia and bombed Pearl Harbor, the largest US Navy's base in the Pacific, and declared war on the Allies. Immediately, Japanese troops invaded Malaysia and began their advance southward.

Soon afterward, the staff and patients of the 13th Australian General Hospital were ordered to leave Johor Bahru and seek sanctuary on the nearby island of Singapore, in the mistaken belief that Singapore could never be conquered.

After arriving in Singapore, the Australian nurses transformed a school into a makeshift hospital. Here they were engaged in trauma nursing, caring for soldiers who suffered the most terrible wounds while the enemy continued its inexorable advance.

Soon Singapore was under attack. The girls (most of them still in their twenties) were under continual bombing from Japanese aircraft, knowing that a direct hit to the hospital was imminent.

Fleeing the Enemy

As Singapore faced certain defeat, and with most ships commandeered for the war effort, a search began for seaworthy vessels to evacuate civilians, nurses, and wounded men. Vivian was amongst the last 65 nurses and 265 terrified men, women and children to board the final boat to depart from Singapore, a small steamship called the SS Vyner Brooke.

Night had fallen on February 12 by the time the ship had finished boarding its passengers, and as they left shore Vivian could see huge fires burning along the Singapore coastline.

The following day, the captain valiantly tried to conceal his ship behind various islands. Of the 47 ships that fled during those last chaotic days before the fall of Singapore, only five made it to safety.

During the night, the captain dashed for freedom and sailed into the Bangka Strait. However, it was impossible to hide in broad daylight. At 2 p.m. on February 14, the ship was attacked by enemy aircraft and received three direct bomb hits. The captain gave the order to abandon ship, with civilians going over the side first. Then the Japanese aircraft returned, firing at the lifeboats and people swimming in the water.

No Choice but Surrender

Vivian made it to the beach on nearby Bangka Island by holding onto the side of a lifeboat. All night long, exhausted survivors from the Vyner Brooke and other shipwrecks kept coming ashore and by morning almost sixty men, women and children and 22 members of the AANS were gathered on Radji beach. They needed food and they needed water. The next day, a search party, which included Vivian and five other nurses, was dispatched to a nearby village, but the locals there, fearing Japanese reprisal, turned them away. They urged the survivors to surrender themselves to the Japanese. Finally, the search party found some freshwater springs at the end of the beach.

That night, huddled together on the sand, the group watched a fierce gun battle out to sea and later a large lifeboat carrying British servicemen came ashore. Their numbers were now swelled to almost 100 people gathered on the beach.

Now large in number, the group decided to surrender themselves to the Japanese or kept in search of the Japanese. In the meantime, the children, hungry and cranky after forty-eight hours without food, were beginning to annoy people. Finally, a group of civilians that the mothers, children, and other civilian women made the difficult decision that they were making their way toward the village and surrender to Japanese troops. Whilst the nurses, British soldiers, and wounded men waited on the beach with the expectation if the Japanese found them and would take them, as prisoner.

The Bangka Island Massacre

Vivian Bullwinkel was sitting quietly on the sand when the Japanese troops arrived. They ordered half of the men to stand and a detachment marched them at bayonet point down the beach and out of sight behind a headland. A few minutes later the Japanese returned and gathered up the remaining men, heading them off in the same direction.

Minutes later the Japanese detachment reappeared, they sat down in front of the women and began to clean their rifles and bloodied bayonets. When done, they ominously motioned for the women to stand up. Not one woman cried, not one woman whimpered and not one of them tried to run away. They had no weapons and they knew that the men from the beach were dead. They also knew that they would not be rescued. It was pointless to run, and besides, where could they go?

The soldiers began pushing them towards the knee-high surf. They stood in a straight line - twenty-two nurses and one elderly civilian woman - facing the horizon. The nurses were still wearing their Red Cross emblems on their sleeves, the symbol which, supposedly, should have protected them. Again, no one spoke, no one wept, and when they reached waist-deep water, the Japanese opened fire with a machine gun.

They were machine-gunned from behind. “They just swept up and down the line and the girls fell one after the other," Bullwinkel recalled. She watched one by one, her friends disappear beneath the waves. The bullet that was meant for her, struck her in the flesh above her left hip. The force of the round threw her into the waves, where she floated. She began to swallow saltwater, then became nauseous, but she was not dead.

The surrounding sea was inked with blood leaking from her own body and her companions. She felt she could taste the blood in the water; was swallowing it. She had survived by lying face down in the water and playing dead for 10 minutes until the Japanese had left.

She knew that if she vomited, or showed any movement whatsoever, the Japanese would finish her off. She held her breath, stealing a little air here and there and, although she couldn't swim, she floated and slowly the current brought her closer to the shore. Though wounded, Vivian Bullwinkel was the sole survivor of the massacre of the women.

After the Japanese left the beach, Vivian dragged herself out of the water. "Finally," she was to say later, "I plucked up enough courage to sit up. I looked around and there was no sign of anybody. There was nothing. Just me".

Vivian dragged herself out of the water and walked up a narrow path for some twenty yards into the jungle. Then she lay down and lost her consciousness. "I don't know whether I became unconscious or whether I slept," she was told the story. A bullet had passed through her body, narrowly missing her vital organs.

At daylight she awoke, she was hot and thirsty. She thought of the springs but fortuitously stopped herself from moving, for just at that moment she spotted a line of Japanese back on the beach. "My heart went to the bottom of the feet again," she said. Another escape.

Twelve Days in the Jungle

Later when the Japanese were gone, she abandoned her hideout and made for the springs. The water was cool and she gulped it greedily. Suddenly she heard an English male voice say "Where have you been?" It was Private Pat Kingsley, a British soldier who, although badly wounded, had survived when the men had been shot and bayoneted. Vivian and Kingsley remained hidden in the jungle for 12 days, during which time Vivian, though herself injured, attended to Kingsley's wounds and she was making bandages out of whatever she could find.

She procured whatever food she could from the local inhabitants. When Vivian went to the nearest village to beg for food, the village headman sent her away. As she walked along the path, a local woman beckoned to her and quietly handed over rice, fish, and vegetables. Each time she returned to the village, the women secretly gave Vivian food. They neither would have survived without help from some local women.

At the end, the locals could not give the supply anymore, fear of getting discovered and killed by Japanese. Vivian realized that they could not go on like this, which led her to the inescapable conclusion that they would have to give themselves up again. Finally, Vivian conveyed to her companion that their only chance of survival was lay in surrender. Kingsley agreed but asked her to wait twenty - four hours.

"I'll be thirty-nine tomorrow and I'd like to think I had my thirty-ninth birthday free", she remembered him saying. "Time is no object," she said, and the next day they celebrated his birthday in the jungle.

By then Kingsley could barely walk, but he was determined to accompany Vivian to their fate. Leaning on each other for support, the two of them hobbled out of the jungle. Vivian carried her water bottle over her hip to disguise her wound and the telltale bullet hole in her uniform.

The Prisoner-of-War Years

On February 28, Vivian Bullwinkel and Private Pat Kingsley once again gave themselves up to the Japanese and were brought into the camp where Vivian was reunited with the thirty-one nurses who had survived the sinking of the Vyner Brooke and Kingsley was put into the men’s camp at Muntok. Shortly after their arrival, Vivian was to hear that Kingsley had died of too badly injured.

At the women’s prison camp, Vivian was overjoyed to find another group of 24 Australian nurses from the SS Vyner Brooke. They had failed to make it to Radji Beach (luckily, as it turned out), and had landed on another part of the island, where they were captured.

Wilma Oram, Vivian’s collegue during as Prisoner of War (POW), was later to describe Vivian's arrival in the camp:

"When we first saw Vivian we were overjoyed and hoped that there were more of our colleagues to come. Vivian was sunburnt, tired and hungry. Her blood-stained uniform was taken from her and some of the blood washed out and, although clothes were not plentiful, Vivian was given something to wear to cover her wound. A little cooked rice was found and a small amount of water. Sleeping space was made for her on the sloping concrete slab, but we had no bedding. It was then that we heard what had happened to her, it was accepted quietly and was never to be spoken of again whilst we were prisoners."

Vivian just merged in as one of our group of 32 Australian nurses who now faced the prospect of being prisoners of the Japanese for many months or even years. During the 3½ years of the nurses' captivity, Vivian Bullwinkel endured the hardships and the brutality of the camp life and was determined to survive to bear witness to the massacre of her twenty-one nursing colleagues.

As long as in the prison camp, Vivian kept her story a dark secret, knowing that she would be killed if her Japanese captors were aware that she had observed the war crime. She took her turn in performing all of the camp duties such as cooking, nursing, and working on the hygiene and burial parties. And she and two other nurses were to earn 80 cents a day, from the other internees, bailing out the clogged toilet drains with half a coconut shell and carrying the human excreta a half-mile into the jungle.

In the mid-February to March periods, the prisoners were locked in temporary camps in Muntok. After that, they were transferred to the jail dan the camps in Palembang. In the next period, the prisoners were transferred back to Muntok. In Spetember 1944 to March 1945, the prisoners of men were placed in Muntok Jail. In October 1944 to April 1945, the prisoners of women and children were gathered in Women’s Camp. Later, all the prisoners were move to Belalau, Lubuk Lingga. The transferred of men occured in March 1945, women and children in April 1945. In 24 August 1945, the prisoners were released after Japanese surrendered of unconditional to Allies in World War II.

Of the original group of 65 nurses on board SS Vyner Brooke, 12 drowned after the ship sank, 21 were massacred on Radji Beach, and 32 as prisoners of war. During the prison camp, another eight of Vivian’s fellow nurses died of malnutrition and disease. And only 24 nurses returned to Australia after the war end, included Vivian Bullwinkel. After her years of captivity and privation as a POW, she weighed just around 25 kilograms.

The Post-War Years

On their return to Australia, Vivian Bullwinkel and Wilma Oram worked together at the Heidelberg Military Hospital until June 1946. However, during this time, restlessness and a need to be with their POW colleagues sent them touring to all parts of Australia. She contacted all the families of the nurses who died. She conveyed some of their remarkable final words before they were slaughtered.

In December 21, 1946, Bullwinkel divulged to The Canberra Times, on what became known as the Massacre of Bangka Island. Her testimony opened the eyes of the world to Japanese inhumanity and encourages Australia to conduct an investigation.

The Massacre of Bangka Island finally was brought to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, otherwise known as the Tokyo Tribunal. Vivian Bullwinkel went on testify for Japanese inhumanities and tragedies that suffered by her together with her colleagues. But she was not allowed to speak about the raped by the Australian government. "Commander of the unit responsible then served in Manchuria at the end of the war and was discharged by Russia until 1948. He was arrested and detained at Sugamo Prison on June 6, 1948, but committed suicide two days later," Sissons DCS wrote in The Australian War Crimes Trials and Investigations (1942-51).

Military historian Lynette Silver's new book, Angels of Mercy, has revealed how Sister Bullwinkel was pressured by the Australian government to remain silent about being raped by the Japanese when it happened to her and her collegues on February 14, 1942, as she attended the War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo in 1946. 

"The thing that affected her the most was that she'd been told by the Australian government that she was not to speak about it and she was not permitted to speak about it at the War Crimes Tribunal. She was shut down,” Ms. Silver told ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly on Monday.

Vivian Bukkwinkle received many medals and awards for bravery to give testimony on the massacre as well as her life for a prisoner of war in a war crimes court in Tokyo in 1947.

After Wilma's marriage in December 1947 (at which she was a bridesmaid), Vivian retired from the AANS with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and returned to civilian nursing. Subsequently, she was to become a much loved Director of Nursing at the Fairfield Hospital in Melbourne. Vivian honored the memory of her fallen colleagues by remaining active on veteran, nursing and philanthropic committees.

She joined her POW colleague, Betty Jeffrey, in a fundraising tour of the whole of Victoria to raise monies for a Nurses' Memorial Centre to be built in Melbourne. The Centre was not only to honor the memory of the nurses from the Vyner Brooke but all other nurses, in WW2, who had lost their lives.

In all, Vivian and Betty raised over £240,000. However, the Nurses' Memorial Centre was also established for the welfare and advancement of the nursing profession and it is in this arena that Vivian Bullwinkel has, perhaps, left her greatest legacy.

In the 1970s, as a Council Member and later the President of the College of Nursing, Australia (later the Royal College of Nursing, Australia), Vivian became heavily involved in the establishment of the 'Goals in Nursing Education,' a task which heralded in the move of Australian nurse education from the hospital to the University sector. It was at this time, that her position on the Nurses Wages Board was also to help improve the salaries and working conditions for all Victorian nurses.

In honor of the people who had helped the nurses during their captivity, Vivian supported a scholarship fund for Malaysian nurses to pursue postgraduate studies in Australia.

Some honors were awarded to Vivian, among her medals are the Officer of Order of Australia and the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her bravery, Associate of the Royal Red Cross, 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal 39-45, Australia Service Medal 1939-1945, Efficiency Decoration, and Florence Nightingale Medal (Red Cross) for the world’s highest honor available to nurses.

Each time she accepted an honor, she did it to keep alive the memory of those cut down in the surf and those who died in the POW camps. "I would like to appreciate that the lives, opportunities, sports, and freedom for our young were bought at a price," she said recently.

Rather late in life, Vivian Bullwinkel married Colonel Francis West Statham in 1977, in her 62, and changed her name to Vivian Statham. After married, she continued become a regular figure at memorial services, gave interviews and attended memorial events.

On March 2, 1993, fifty one years after she came ashore on Bangka Island, Vivian Bullwinkel was to return to Bangka, with some of the other nurses, to pay one last tribute to their colleagues. The island seemed unreal to her, not part of her history. She found the freshwater springs again, visited gravesites, and one of the POW camps, but she could not locate the actual spot where the massacre had taken place. What was once so unforgettable had, with time, faded in memory and Bangka Island now looked like any other island.

In the end, she, and her fellow POWs, stood on a beach which they felt to be near the site of the murders, and here they unveiled a shrine to the forty-one nurses from the Vyner Brooke who did not return.

A memorial monument was made in front of the Muntok’s Tanjung Kalian Lighthouse; the memorial incorporates stone from the women’s prison camp and bears a bronze plaque with the names of all 65 nurses who were aboard on SS Vyner Brooke.

Vivian died of a heart attack on July 3, 2000, aged 84, in Perth, Australia. Four of the surviving nurses who were fellow prisoners’ camp attended her state funeral.

One upon a time, the director of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, and paid tribute to this outstanding heroine by saying this: “From a generation that produced so many remarkable Australians, Vivian Bullwinkel was a giant among them.”

In 2001, Bullwinkel was inducted posthumously to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women. The honour was established in 2001 to recognise the achievements of women from the Australian state of Victoria. The Honour Roll was established as part of the celebrations of Victoria's Centenary of Federation.

Rest in Peace, Vivian Bullwinkel Statham. The events of Banka Island will never be forgotten thanks to her determined effort to keep the memory alive.***

 

 

 

Penulis: 
Muhammad Erfan
Sumber: 
Disparbudbabar