From Our Archives: by Sr Colleen Foley osu

75th Anniversary of The Fall of Singapore 15th February 1942

Massacre of Australian Nurses including two Ursuline Ex-students


15th February 1942 was the fall of Singapore.

On 16th February 1942, 21 Australian nurses were executed by the Japanese, one survived to tell the story. This story is “White Coolies” by Betty Jeffrey; it was made into the film “Paradise Road” in 1997.

This current anniversary is of interest to us because two of those nurses who died were Ursuline ex-students, Nancy Harris (pictured left) and Ellie McGlade (pictured right).

Nancy Haris

           Ellie McGlade

Nancy Harris, daughter of Dr J. Harris of Guyra attended our Guyra school for many years.

Ellie was confided to our care at the early age of four years (on the death of her parents) and remained with us for 15 years. After leaving St Ursula’s Armidale she took up nursing as a profession, and she never failed to keep in touch with the Nuns throughout the subsequent years. The beautiful Crucifix surmounting the High Altar of our Chapel was presented by her at the opening of the new Chapel in 1929. (Annals 1945)

The St Ursula’s Magazine for 1927 contained the following :
Who does not remember Ellie as the winsome little toddler of four years of age to be seen playing around the Convent grounds with Rex, the collie, or her family of dolls, when first she was entrusted to the care of the Ursulines on the death of her parents.

 Mary Eleanor McGlade, known as Ellie, was born in Armidale in 1903.


Ellie and Rex


The first ever Commemorative Service at Radji Beach to remember the 21 Australian Army Nurses executed on 16 February 1942 was held recently on the 75th Anniversary of that fateful day.
One of the highlights on Radji Beach during the 75th Anniversary Service on 16 February was the laying of wreaths and flowers in memory of the executed Nurses.

Posted on Facebook by Muntok Nurses and internees

I have never seen anything as moving as this....the line of army nurses walking hand in hand into the sea, just as the nurses did 75 years ago.

17 February at 04:56 Helen Webb Facebook