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postgraduate thesis: Behind the wire: Australian military nursing and internment during World War II

TitleBehind the wire: Australian military nursing and internment during World War II
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Fletcher, A. M. K.. (2012). Behind the wire : Australian military nursing and internment during World War II. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4985858
AbstractThis dissertation argues that the experiences of a highly specific group of female medical personnel and the representations of their experiences, both during World War II and in the immediate postwar era, provide a unique opportunity for investigating the role of Australian women in the Pacific War, as well as the processes through which personal testimonies are produced in relation to collective memory, state-sponsored rituals of commemoration, and history. Victims of one of the most infamous war crimes of World War II, the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) Sisters and their wartime experiences at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army (JIA) on Sumatra have been accorded considerable prominence in Australian narratives of the Pacific conflict. Yet notwithstanding this attention, there has been surprisingly little focus on the nurses’ own accounts of the episode. This dissertation is the first attempt to redress the balance by offering a critical reassessment of the original source material, while exploring the broader discursive contexts within which such accounts were produced. The dissertation considers first-hand accounts of the “Bangka Island Massacre” and the AANS Sisters’ subsequent internment by the Japanese between February 1942 and September 1945. The chapters that follow explore the role of the nurses’ ordeal on Sumatra in the development of a professional Australian nursing self-identity, the episode’s incorporation in the national rituals of commemoration surrounding the remembrance of the Pacific conflict, and ultimately, the extent to which the nurses’ narratives have fed into – and helped to shape – a distinctive postwar Australian nationalism. Even before their release from captivity, the AANS Sisters had acquired iconic status in Australia, as embodiments of heroic resistance, altruistic sacrifice and bravery. The dissertation is arranged in four thematic chapters, which consider four distinct areas of the nurses’ experiences – the “Bangka Island Massacre”, internment, press representation and remembrance. Chapter 2 reassesses documentary material collected for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in 1946 in order to examine the murders on Bangka Island and the alleged sexual violence associated with the crime. Chapter 3 draws on the published and unpublished camp memoirs of several of the nurses to explore the ways in which the nurses characterized their internment experiences, and the possible factors influencing the construction of those narratives. Chapter 4 makes use of Australian print and broadcast media archives to investigate how the imprisoned Sisters, and civilian and military nurses more generally, were portrayed by the press, and the possible effect this may have had on postwar nation-building, nationalism and remembrance in Australia. Finally, Chapter 5 examines the inclusion of the AANS Sisters in postwar commemorative endeavours and rituals of remembrance – including monuments, shrines, museum displays, temporary exhibitions and the celebration of Anzac Day – investigating the extent to which the nurses have been incorporated into the “Anzac legend”, Australia’s militaristic interpretation of the national character.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectMilitary nursing - Australia - History.
Dept/ProgramHistory

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorPomfret, DM-
dc.contributor.advisorPeckham, RS-
dc.contributor.authorFletcher, Angharad Mary Kathleen.-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationFletcher, A. M. K.. (2012). Behind the wire : Australian military nursing and internment during World War II. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4985858-
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation argues that the experiences of a highly specific group of female medical personnel and the representations of their experiences, both during World War II and in the immediate postwar era, provide a unique opportunity for investigating the role of Australian women in the Pacific War, as well as the processes through which personal testimonies are produced in relation to collective memory, state-sponsored rituals of commemoration, and history. Victims of one of the most infamous war crimes of World War II, the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) Sisters and their wartime experiences at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army (JIA) on Sumatra have been accorded considerable prominence in Australian narratives of the Pacific conflict. Yet notwithstanding this attention, there has been surprisingly little focus on the nurses’ own accounts of the episode. This dissertation is the first attempt to redress the balance by offering a critical reassessment of the original source material, while exploring the broader discursive contexts within which such accounts were produced. The dissertation considers first-hand accounts of the “Bangka Island Massacre” and the AANS Sisters’ subsequent internment by the Japanese between February 1942 and September 1945. The chapters that follow explore the role of the nurses’ ordeal on Sumatra in the development of a professional Australian nursing self-identity, the episode’s incorporation in the national rituals of commemoration surrounding the remembrance of the Pacific conflict, and ultimately, the extent to which the nurses’ narratives have fed into – and helped to shape – a distinctive postwar Australian nationalism. Even before their release from captivity, the AANS Sisters had acquired iconic status in Australia, as embodiments of heroic resistance, altruistic sacrifice and bravery. The dissertation is arranged in four thematic chapters, which consider four distinct areas of the nurses’ experiences – the “Bangka Island Massacre”, internment, press representation and remembrance. Chapter 2 reassesses documentary material collected for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in 1946 in order to examine the murders on Bangka Island and the alleged sexual violence associated with the crime. Chapter 3 draws on the published and unpublished camp memoirs of several of the nurses to explore the ways in which the nurses characterized their internment experiences, and the possible factors influencing the construction of those narratives. Chapter 4 makes use of Australian print and broadcast media archives to investigate how the imprisoned Sisters, and civilian and military nurses more generally, were portrayed by the press, and the possible effect this may have had on postwar nation-building, nationalism and remembrance in Australia. Finally, Chapter 5 examines the inclusion of the AANS Sisters in postwar commemorative endeavours and rituals of remembrance – including monuments, shrines, museum displays, temporary exhibitions and the celebration of Anzac Day – investigating the extent to which the nurses have been incorporated into the “Anzac legend”, Australia’s militaristic interpretation of the national character.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B49858580-
dc.subject.lcshMilitary nursing - Australia - History.-
dc.titleBehind the wire: Australian military nursing and internment during World War II-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4985858-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineHistory-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4985858-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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